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singapore flagSoon Thian Keing
顺天宫

singaporeIn 1981, a pair of stone tablet was discovered in a Chinese temple in Singapore. The inscriptions on the tablets challenged the accepted history of Singapore at that time. Not surprising, it caused quite a stir and debate among scholars.

Soon Thian Keing controversy,
the Rosetta Stone of Singapore History

The tablets was discovered in Soon Thian Keing, an otherwise unassuming Chinese Hokkien temple in Malabar street. Once discovered, the tablets date the temple to 1812 slightly earlier than the British founding of Singapore in 1819.

The founding of a Chinese temple in 1812 suggested the presence of a Chinese community, a relatively stable existence, accumulation of economic and cultural capital among the inhabitants.

While there is nothing wrong with these assumptions, it challenges the common held belief that Singapore was a barren island until the British founding of modern Singapore in 1819. More specially, it questions the often cited Singapore population size of 150 including 30 Chinese before British arrival.

Soon Thian Leing’s tablets provided material culture for futher debate and research. Today, it is generally accepted that Singapore was rather a vibrant island before the British arrival in 1819. The British arrival launched Singapore into a larger trading web creating wealth and opportunities that were otherwise not likely.

The past in the path of the future

Soon Thian Keing’s tablet and its location thus became an important landmark in the understanding of Singapore’s past. Unfortunately, this significance was not enough to save it from Singapore’s urban development plans.

In 1984, Soon Thian Keing was informed that it stood in the path of Singapore’s future SMRT transport system and despite ways and means to remain, it had to go.

After an initial relocation in Albert Street, the temple was finally relocated to its present location within the Geylang Chinatown at 11 am on 25 February 1994 where it remains to this day and hopefully forever.

Soon Thian Keing; Faith and society

Soon Thian Keing was dedicated to Tua Peh Kong but also host other deities including the Goddess of Childbirth, Monkey God, Guan Yin, God of Wealth, Ji Gong, Magistrate Bao, God of Medicine and others.

As a social institute, it has supported education and charities and over the years, they have made substantial donations to charities that reach out to Singaporeans regardless ethnicity or religion.

200th year anniversary

In 2012, Soon Thian Keing celebrated its 200th anniversary with a thousand guest dinner banquet and with the President of Singapore as their VIP. A bilingual book was also published to mark this occasion and as a record of their history.

Soon Thian Keing’s unique history makes it one of the most hidden gems in the tourism and social scene. The temple is open to all visitors and is easily located within Geylang Chinatown.



shun tian gongSoon Thian Keing, 顺天宫

Address:
19 Lorong 29 Geylang Singapore 388070

 

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Geylang Chinatown
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shun tian gong




President of Singapore arriving

Road closure notice for the celebration dinner

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