To fully understand our association, we have to look back at the Chinese history around the Qing dynasty and the pre-communist period to find out how the provinces and the municipality areas were structured. During that period it was important to structure the country into different provinces. The provinces were further sub-divided into municipalities, counties and villages.
Kwong Tong Province with 5 main areas and 10 prefectures.
- Ling Tong Area : Teo Chew municipality; Fui Chew municipality
- Ling Nam Area : ShaoZhou municipality NamHoong municipality
- Ling Sai Area : Siew Heng municipality ; Ko Chow municipality
- Hai Bei Area : Lian Zhou municipality ; Lei Zhou municipality
- Hainan Area : Keng Chow municipality
Guang Zhou municipality and its 16 counties
Nanhai , Panyu, Dongguang, Shunde, Zhongshan, Xinhui, Bao An, Taishan, Chonghua, Lungmen, Sanshui, Qingyuan, Huaxian, Zeng cheng, Fo gang, Cheqi.
Siew Heng municipality and its 16 counties
Gaoyao, Sihui: Guang Ning, Xin Din, Gao Ming, Kai Ping, En Ping, He Shan, Feng Chuan, Yunfo, Kai Jian, Luo Ding, Deqing, Yu Nan, Yang Chun, Yang Jiang.
Note: Jia Ying municipality is located between Teo Chew and Fui Chew and is therefore regarded as Ling Tong Area. However, in 1978 the Head of Singapore South East Asia Research Centre, Professor Xu Yun Jiao did not mention about Jia Ying in his book titled “Kwong Siew municipality and its counties” In another record, Kwong Tong province has a total of eleven (11 ) municipalities. Inside the provinces they excluded Nam Hoong municipality but included Jia Ying municipality and Lian Zhou municipality .As a result of development Guang Zhou municipality and Siew Heng municipality were merged to form Kwong Siew Association as it is known today.
Later, those municipalities status regions in China like Teo Chew, Fui Chew, Jia Ying, Keng Chow, Ko Chow and a few others set up associations in Selangor and the Federal Territory in Malaysia. In the Northern region, Southern region, Singapore and East Malaysia there were very few Fui Chew dialect speaking people and so it was decided that a new association be called Kwong Fui Siew Association-a merger of three municipalities .
Kwong Tong province is located in southern China and according to China history it was considered slow in development compared to some northern provinces.
Recent China history show some of these events happened in Kwong Tong province and Guang Zhou municipality. The opium war, some peaceful marches, clandestine revolution activities, the war that broke out in the northern regions of China, people began to strike, and there was a revolt in Guang Zhou municipality.
The above problems, the aftermath of the second world war plus a century old period of revolution in China brought a lot of sufferings to the people. The later years changed the lives of people from bad to worse. Many felt that the best alternative solution was to leave their homes and loved ones and emigrate to faraway land in search of riches and new lives. The countries numbered more than a hundred in five continents.
According to latest Chinese estimates, the number of overseas Chinese from Kwong Tong province is about twenty (20) millions. This figure represents 70% of the total of overseas Chinese. Another figure shows many of them are people from Kwong Siew municipality .
In many countries you can find many “Chinatowns” and the majority of people there speak Cantonese. In essence they speak the Guang Zhou dialect because Kwong Tong dialect would include the dialects of Teo Chew, Fui Chew, Keng Chow, Jia Ying where they have their own dialects and they are part of Kwong Tong province. Cantonese or Guang Zhou Chow dialect is the proper dialect spoken in the Guang Zhou municipality.
People from Kwong Siew county had migrated south to Malaya, as it was known then, particularly in Selangor and the Federal Territory region. More Kwong Siew people later arrived in Malaya and they set up permanent residence here. As there were so many people from the same county, they needed to communicate and interact with one another in the same dialect and many, therefore felt the need to set up an association to let all people from the same villages come and mingle.
Initially they rented a shophouse at No. 4 Market Street and later at No 13 & No 15 Ampang Road. Due to shortage of space, Zhao Yu and Wang Chun Lin and a few others set up the Kwong Siew Association. Zhao Yu donated a piece of land and also loaned out a huge sum of RM9,000.00 free of interest, for purchase of construction materials. Kwong Siew people united themselves and offered to help. Those who were skilled in construction volunteered to help, coolies or laborers offered to carry and business people donated fixtures and furniture. The spirit of the Kwong Siew people was very high. Everyone worked with collective wisdom and concerted efforts and all were of one heart and one mind. Those who had money donated money, those who had strength also did their bit to help to get the association completed. It was finally completed on the 25th November 1888. The building looked fantastic and beautifully decorated.
The design of the building especially the entrance and the hall resemble those found in China. They called this place “ The Big Company”. They also dedicated the entrance hall and the interior with the god-like statue of Kuan Ti and a few others. Later the Kwong Siew people and the temple devotees began to associate the place as Kuan Ti temple and had forgotten the name of the building officially called Kwong Siew Association.
During this period Malaya was then under British rule and in its early days many Government departments were not properly organized. Though the courts and certain Government departments were normally tasked to handle the Chinese Affairs, somehow other well-respected local dignitaries like the Kapitans, Presidents of Chinese communities and associations were also appointed to handle similar matters.
The associations normally used the main hall to conduct and settle any disputes. Only unresolved matters would be referred to the Kapitans or the courts.
At that time, Yap Kwan Seng was the Kapitan and Zhao Yu was head of Chinese Affairs and because of that, Chinese people in the Selangor and Federal Territory region went to Kwong Siew Association to seek help in settling their problems– family, business disputes and debt collections.
It was evident that the complainants had confidence in our association and the judgments given were fair. The people were very happy and satisfied with the mediation effort and as such people gave praise and admiration for the association.
In 1909 – 1911, during the Xuan Tong period, Dr Sun Yat Sun lead his close comrades and started a revolutionary movement overseas by giving lectures. The response was encouraging.
Kwong Siew Association realized that the illiteracy rate among the members was very high. It therefore organized a series of public talks in the association premise to highlight the problem and these talks not only attracted a lot of Chinese members but also Chinese from other dialects and clans. The talks were very well received by the people and it even broke the dialect barrier. As a result It had significantly reduced squabbling and rivalry among the Chinese people. It also brought about a new spirit and love for their motherland.
|In 1912||more people spent their time in the association and because of this long benches were added in the hall and at the same time newspapers were introduced. This activity attracted more members to the association. In February some members suggested setting up of a school in the hall. However there were some who disagreed. This matter was dropped.|
|In 1923||a reading corner was set up in the association and more local and foreign newspapers and magazines were ordered.|
|In 1924||a library was set up.|
|On 1st October 1926||the Free School was set up. However it did not receive the approval of the health department. The association therefore obtained temporary use of a shop house called Chik Sin Tong and Wah Kiew private School for conducting the classes.|
|In 1928||student population grew rapidly. It obtained temporary use of Confucian Private Primary School for additional classes in the afternoon.|
|1941-1945||Afternoon classes at Confucian School were stopped because of the war in the Pacific|
|In 1946||Classes resumed using the Zhou Lap Primary School.|
|In 1947||the Free School borrowed classes again from Confucian Private Primary School.|
|In 1949||The Selangor Education Director informed the Chinese students who were in English schools that they needed the permission of the principals of schools to attend Chinese language classes and they were limited to learn only four(4) hours of lessons per week.The association sent Mr Leong Cheong Leng to discuss the matter with the education director to extend the learning hours. Somehow the matter was never resolved.|
|In 1951||Nearby the New Kuen Cheng Girls School, the association found a suitable place to build the Free school. However the plan did not receive the approval from the local government and so the plan was abandoned.|
|In 1954||Chin Woo Athletics Association moved into their own premises. Our association decided to refurbish the premises by renovating and painting the whole building to use it as the Free School – the same spot where our Wisma Kwong Siew now stands today.|