In 1822, 3 years after the British establishment of Singapore as a trading post, the Hakka community founded their clan association call Ying Fo Fui Kun 应和会馆.
The Hakka migrants who founded Ying Fo Fui Kun did not come from the same county. Instead it was established by migrants from 5 counties； 梅县， 兴宁， 五华， 平远， 蕉岭(Meixian, Xingning, Wuhua, Pingyuan, Jiaoling) from the Guan Dong province 广东省.
As minorities among the Hokkien majority, social solidarity and mutual assistance were of utmost importance in this Hakka community. This aspiration for peaceful environment and mutual support between fellow migrants was reflected in the name of the clan association “Ying Ho”, 应和, loosely translated as a mutual obligation for peaceful co existence. It is also reflected in the worship of Guan Gong, the Chinese God of war and literature and who also symbolize social integrity and a sense of brotherly responsibility.
Ying Fo Fui Kun is one of the oldest clan association and its founding date may hold clues to the pre British history of Singapore. It’s founding only 3 years after British arrival in Singapore suggest the existence of a pre British economy in Singapore and the Hakka involvement in that economy.
That economy would have attracted Hakka migrants and offered opportunities for the Hakka community’s development of economic and social capital. These economic and social foundations enabled them to develop a sense of community and to initiate the founding of a clan association. Other surviving evidence include the Fook Tet Soo Hakka Temple, 福德祠大伯公庙, managed by the Hakka community.
As a comparison, the largest Chinese community was the Hokkien who migrated from Fujian Province. Their temple and later clan association Thian Hock Keng Temple was founded in 1840, 11 years after the British arrival in Singapore.
Ying Fo Fui Kun addressed the social and cultural needs of their members by building schools (Ying Sin School), organizing festival and religious celebrsations.
As society change, Ying Fo Fui Kun embraces change by responding to new needs of society. It has become the embodiment of Hakka heritage and organizes Hakka cultural events such as the Hakka Song & Food Festival, Hakka Songs Performances and symposiums.
Filmed with permission from Ying Fo Fui Kun
These cultural events are open to the general public allowing them to understand an integral part of Singapore’s cultural history. It is also an opportunity for the association to serve the wider and larger segment of society by making donations to charities.
On 18 December 1998, it was gazetted as a Singapore National Monument. Ying Fo Fui Kun’s existence testifies to the resilience of culture and the ways in which traditional notions continue to be relevant in the modernity landscape of Singapore.