Selangor and Federal Territory Kwong Siew Association, one of the famous associations in Federal Capital and Selangor, has a long history of 120 years. It has experienced many vicissitudes of life in the past. Today we can feel proud of its existence in the federal capital. An outline of the summary of its prosperity and changes are compiled and used as reference materials for those who research into the history of the Chinese associations in Malaysia.
Way back in 1886, quite a large number of our fellow villagers from 32 counties in 2 municipalities:-
Guang Zhou(廣州) municipality consist of 16 counties which are :
Panyu (番禺)、Nanhai (南海)、Shunde (順德)、Zhongshan (中山)、
Dongguan (東莞)、Baoan (寶安)、Xinhui (新會)、Taishan (台山)、
Zhoaqing(肇慶) municipality consist of 16 counties which are：
Our fellow villagers thought that in order to strengthen the bonds among the fellow villagers and to communicate with each other, a place of gathering should be set up.
Therefore, the formation of an association was initiated by Zhao Yu (趙煜), Wang Chun Lin (王春臨) and others. Zhao Yu had donated a huge sum of money generously to the Association. At the same time, many people from the two munipalities of GuangZhou and Zhaoqing now known as “Kwong Siew’s people” responded. A group of workers had built the association voluntarily. Our blue-collar fellow villagers provided free transportation. The shops donated furniture. 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.
As such, the lofty magnificent association was completed in 1888. The antique building that is rich in oriental taste has an area of more than 10,000 square feet.
PURCHASE OF PROPRETIES
After the association was completed, our founding members thought that it was difficult to maintain the grand association without any fixed income, They specially requested loans from their wealthy fellow villagers like Zhao Yu(趙煜), Dong Xing Long(東興隆), Loke Yew(陸佑) etc. free of interests to purchase properties. Later, all the trustees namely Yap Kuan Seng(葉觀盛), Loke Yew(陸佑), Liao An Niang(廖安娘), Lu Qu Jie(陸秋傑), Xin Bai Hui(辛百卉), Cheong Yoke Choy(張郁才), Liao Rong Zhio(廖榮枝) etc agreed with the founding members’ loan request and offered their full assistance.
They had purchased shop houses at No.13 & 15, Jalan Ampang, No.23, Jalan Lebuh Pasar, No.4 & No.6, Jalan Cecii and No.147, No.149 & No.170, Jalan Bandar one after another. The loans were paid back by installments from the rentals collected.
In 1974, the shop houses at no.147 & no.149, Jaian Bandar were demolished and rebuild into a 6-storey building. In 1994, Kuan Ti temple was renovated. In 1998, the pre-war shop house at Jaian Lebuh Pasar was taken back. As the shop house was built during the pre-war years around 1945, the condition was in dire need of repairs. The Board of Directors had decided to repair the shop and built an additional floor. The estimated costs were RM300,000.00. The project was completed in June 1999 and its foundation was reinforced and the building became more stable.
MEDIATION OF DISPUTES
At the initial stage, the Association was formed for strengthening the relationship among the fellow villagers and develop the spirit of mutual aid. Besides that, the Association has also tried their best to mediate disputes among the fellow villagers.
According to the statistics, from 1898 to 1902. a total of 486 cases of dispute were mediated within the 4 years. Besides the two municipalities i.e. Guangzhou(廣州) and Zhaoqing(肇慶), other fellow villagers from other municipalities also lodged complaints with our association whenever there were disputes. It was to avoid bringing the cases to the court of law.
It is evident that the complainants had confidence in our association and the judgements given were fair. Later, the cases of disputes between mothers and sons, the fall out between husbands and wives among the Kwong Siew clan were handed to the association for mediation.
As everyone were fellow villagers, there was no language barrier. With affection and righteousness, many husbands and wives’, mothers and sons agreed to bury the hatchet and they went home feeling satisfied.
SETTING UP THE LIBRARY
In 1924, to enable our fellow villagers to know about situation in China and the social activities, a reading room was set up. The Association had subscribed more than 20 copies of newspapers and periodicals from Singapore, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, etc. as reading materials for its members. Form morning till evening, there was a continuous flow of readers. It was good for intellectual development and gave great impetuous to spread knowledge.
The following year on the 1st of December, a library was set up. There were more than 300,000 ancient and modern books for reading and borrowing. Later, the rare books collected by Nanyang Books and Art Gallery, Mrs. Ye Da Ci (葉大池夫人), Mr. Ao Yang Xue Feng(歐陽雪峰先生), Mr. Li Yao Chong(黎耀聰先生), Mr.Qu Shou En (丘壽恩先生), Madam Xian Yu (冼玉枝女士), Mr Liang Zhang Ling (梁長齡先生等)etc. were donated to the library generously. Gradually the collection of books increased in abundance, It had even attracted the reading interest of people from all circles. During prime period, the number of readers each year broke a record of 60,000. For the past 100 years, it has contributed remarkably to the development of Chinese culture and carried forward the social education. At the moment, the library is under positive improvement and development. But after the war, many schools, associations and shops had subscribed their own newspapers and that the overseas newspapers were prohibited from being imported into the country. The importance of reading newspapers and books has been reduced. The existing size of the library was reduced. From 1999 onwards, the Board of Directors reorganized the library and expanded it into a library with characteristics cum an information centre. Besides keeping historical documents from Selangor & Federal Territory Kwong Siew Association, we have also collected valuable information from other Kwong Siew Associations throughout Malaysia and China to enrich the collection of the library.
To commemorate our founding member Zhao Yu(趙煜), for his past sacrifices in donating his time, money and land and his great achievement in the formation of the Association, the library is therefore named after him, Zhao Yu Library & Information Center (趙煜圖書館暨資料中心).
SETTING UP OF FREE SCHOOL
In 1927, the free school was set up and its aim was to offer tuition classes in Mandarin to students who opted to study English, full time in government schools and also for poor students who could not afford the fees to attend schools’ The association felt that the English medium students needed some knowledge of Mandarin as well, so as not to forget their origin and culture.
As a result of these, morning and afternoon tuition classes were formed. Dr. Fang Xin Min (房新民博士) was appointed to be the headmaster. For the past 50 years, the school had trained many talented people who are both proficient in Chinese and English. We have received favorable responses from the students and the community. After visiting the school, the former Chinese Consul to Malaysia Mr. Xu Meng Xiong(許孟雄) specially praised the free school for developing Chinese Culture and its great contributions to students from English schools.
On 10th anniversary of the school, an educationist, Ma Xiang Bo(馬相伯)sent an inscription praising the school. The school originally held morning and afternoon Chinese tuition classes. Later, additional Chinese evening classes and Bahasa Malaysia night classes were set up. The school has indeed linked up the cultural exchange of all the races and acts as a bridge that links all the races. In 1974, the school building at No.147-149 was demolished and rebuilt into a 6-storey building. Three years later, in 1977, another 2-storey building was constructed for tuition classes at the back of the association at No. 168, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee.
Before the independence of Malaya, China was in the war resisting against aggression. As every man had a share of responsibility for the fate of his country, our association had donated a huge sum of RM10,000.00 as well as purchasing the “save the nation bands” of RM20,000.00. Our association had raised RM15,000.00 for the purchase of the bonds from the members. The generous donation had made a sensation throughout the country. The authorities in China had greatly praised our association for the effort. As to the flood and military disaster in our native land, we had also tried our best to help our fellow countrymen. Our Association had also fulfilled the aim and aspirations of the association, ie. Providing relief aid to our native land at that time.
During the period when Malaya was occupied, our association had suffered heavy losses.
- The two shop houses at No.147 & No.149 Jalan Bandar were seized by the Japanese military policeman for 3 years and 8 months without a single cent as compensation.
To substantiate funds for the invading army, the Japanese army had ordered all Malaysian Chinese to pay tax of 50 million, As our Association had a few properties, we were imposed a levy RM1 5,000.00. Later, we were also imposed association property tax of more than RM94,000,00. Before the imposed levy was paid up, we were ordered to mortgage the grants of all properties in Bank of Zhen Jin. Later, we had no alternative but to sell the shop house at No.15, Jalan Ampang to redeem the grants.
- At the beginning of Japanese Occupation, anyone found in possession of books that carried ideas against Japan would be severely dealt with. Our library was in possession of many of these books. In order to avoid trouble, we forced ourselves to destroy the books reluctantly by fire and had suffered heavy losses. The military propagandist frequently borrowed books from the library and never returned them. Consequently, in 1945, the library was closed down to stop borrowing.
RESTORATION OF KUAN TI TEMPLE
Kuan Ti Temple is situated in the association premises at No. 168, Jalan Tun H.S.Lee, Kuaia Lumpur. It is the property of the association and was built in 1888. It has a long history with many worshippers. Many local and foreign tourists admire the temple for its unique architecture and ancient design. It is also a favourite spot for photographers.
Since the temple is more than a hundred years old, the roof tiles leak whenever it rained, causing flooding in the temple. So at the Board of Directors meeting in 1994, it was decided the temple should be given a restoration and a proper facelift. A restoration committee was set up to look into the reconstruction of the temple. The association allocated some money from its reserves. While the rest came from donation by the public, The response was tremendous and the temple was restored within a year.
ABOUT KWONG TONG CEMETERY KUALA LUMPUR http://www.ktc.org.my/
Over the past 100 years, the relationship between our association and Kwong Tong Cemetery had been very close indeed. In the initial stages when the association for the cemetery was formed, Yap Kuan Seng(葉觀盛), Zhao Yu(趙煜), Loke Yew(陸佑), spared no effort in planning and building the cemetery.
Later the post of chairman was held by representatives of our association. The representatives were:-
- Dong Xin Long (東興隆) who held the post for 9 years;
- Chan Sow Lin (陳秀蓮) who held the post for 2 years;
- Xin Bai Hui (辛百卉) who held the post for 3 years;
- Lu Yun Huai (陸運懷) who held the post for 7 years;
- Yang Si Qi (楊思齊) who held the post for 1 year;
- Ou Yang Li (歐陽利) who held the post for 2 years;
- Chen Zhan Mei (陳占梅) who held the post for 3years;
- Cao Yao Hui (曹堯煇) who held the post for 13 years; and
- Zhao Ru Nan (趙如南) who held the post for 14 years.
Our representatives had held the posts of Chairman of the cemetery for as long as 54 years which took up half of the 100 years history of Kwong Tong Cemetery. Many of our representatives had also held the posts of deputy chairman, treasurer and secretary. During the tenure of office, they had made great contributions.
During the initial stage of the establishment of the Association, the costs of opening the wasteland were undertaken by the Associations and from well-off businessmen and kind-hearted people. Kwong Siew Association had raised a total of RM4,000.00, Keng Chew Association (瓊州會館) raised RM1,000.00, Teo Chew Association (潮州八邑會館) raised RM600.00, Fui Chiu Association (惠州會館) raised RM480.00, Che Ci Association (赤溪會館)raised RM280.00, making a total of RM6,360.00. Our association had raised more than half of the funds. Though the donations were not much, the temple in Jalan Lapangan Terbang Lama (Kwong Tong Temple, completed in 1909) was completed.
In 1925, the management of the cemetery built 10 pavilions, so that the people who paid respects to the dead could take a short rest. Our association took the lead in contributing money for the building of Mu Yi Ting (築義亭).
We also sought contributions from our fellow villagers to build the other pavilions for example
- Lu Yun Huai’s (陸運懷)had contributed “Xjao Qi Ting” (小憩亭) and “Yang Zhj Ting” (仰止亭);
- Madam Lin Cui Lan’s (林翠蘭女士) had contributed “Yj Cui Ting” (挹翠亭);
- Cheong Yoke Choy’s (張郁才) had contributed “Qing Jia Ting” (清佳亭);
- Liao Lu Shi’s (廖陸氏) had contributed “Xi Ying Ting” (息影亭);
- Dong Xin Long’s(東興隆) had contributed “Yi Ran Ting”(翼然亭),
- Chan Chen Yong’s (陳振永) had contributed “Kuo Jian Ting” (掛劍亭), Liang Xiang Ting’s (梁湘廷) and “Shi An Ting” (適安寧);
- Chen Pei Xiong (陳沛雄), Chen Chi Xiong(陳熾雄) and He Wen Kai’s (何文楷合捐) had contributed ‘Ai Ri Ting” (愛日亭) and Wong Yun Tin(望雲亭)
- Later 2 brothers Li Yuan Hong (李遠虹) and Li Yue Nan (李岳南)
jointly built “Nian Ci Ting” (念慈亭) in the cemetery in Sungai Besi.
From the above history records, it can be seen that during the initial stage of the establishment of the association, our sages of the past had made great contribution by putting in manpower, raised funds for the opening of the wasteland and later the strategic planning.
The constitution of Kwong Tong Cemetery Kuaia Lumpur provided that all the prefecture associations appoint three (3) representatives to be directors. As there are 32 counties under the jurisdiction of Guangzhou and Zhouqing prefecture, it was provided that our association was to send 6 representatives to participate in the administration of the cemetery as directors. Teochew, Fuichiu, Karying, Hainan associations were to send 3 representatives respectively. As Char Yong is only a county it could only sent 1 representative. The representatives formed the Board of Directors.
It proposed to appoint property trustees with two persons from Kwong Siew Association and one each from Keng Chew, Hui Chiu, Teo Chew and Kar Ying Association making a total of 6 persons. But in the 100 years history, the rules of the cemetery had undergone many amendments. The last amendment was adopted by the Special Board of Directors meeting on 23th December 1998.
Under the new amendments, each association was instructed to add two (2) additional representatives to the list of directors. Therefore, Kwong Siew representatives increased from six (6) to eight (8) directors; Teo Chew, Hui Chiu, Kar Ying and Hainan Associations from three (3) representatives to five (5). Char Yong had one representative increased to three (3) respectively. The ratio of increase for the additional directors representing the various associations was not in accordance to the spirit, the historical origins and the organizational structure. Such a change in the structure of representation was regrettable.
In keeping pace with the information technology age of the 21 St century, our association has computerized its operation in the office as well as launching a web site for the benefits of its members near and far.
The Board of Directors has also drawn up plans to develop some of the pre-war shops to increase the level of rental income to meet future goals and provide more benefits for the members especially in education.