Kwong Wai Siew Li Si She Shut 广惠肇李氏书室 (Guang Hui Zhao Shi Shu Shi) is 140 years old this year. On 19 Oct 14, the Association celebrates its 140th anniversary at the Red Star Restaurant.
Started in 1874, at a time when China was under the Qing Dynasty, the association helped many of its clansmen from Kwong, Wai and Siew districts of Guangdong, China, as they came to Singapore to seek new opportunities and to seek a new life.
Through the support of its clansmen, it started off in a rented place at 26 Tao Fu Kai (Cantonese name for Tofu St, which was Upper Chin Chew Street, which is no longer there after the urban renewal of this area surrounded by South Bridge Road and Upper Cross St). It then moved to Neil Road and then Hospital Road.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, when Singapore came under the Japanese, the association ceased all activities for some 3 years and 8 months. After the war, the association re-opened and ran its activities out of 21 Ang Siang Road. It later moved to a more permanent place at 2 Ang Siang Road, thanks to the generosity of its members.
With membership reaching more than a thousand in the early years, the Association has been active in organising activities for its members, from social to cultural, welfare and charity, provided music and Cantonese opera performances for the community, scholarship awards to students and subsidizing its elderly members in their return home to China.
And there were also the Chinese events that have always been part of the Chinese community and family activities, that the Association organised for its members. These included Lunar New Year celebration, Mid-Autumn festival, ancestor veneration in Spring and Autumn (including tomb sweeping). Other activities such as forums, overseas visits and exchanges, and lessons such as Calligraphy, were also organised.
The Association has also been active in participating in heritage events in Chinatown to create more awareness to the young Singaporeans. Many Singaporeans, especially the older ones would know Lee Dai Soh of the Cantonese Story-telling fame from Rediffusion, but many did not know that he is a member of this Association. Many gathered to listen to a "re-play" of his stories at the Association.
Moving into yet another milestone, the Association looks into the new challenges, needs of its members and passing the torch to the new generation of members. In looking forward to yet another hundred years, the President and his 50th Executive Committee hope that the flame would continue to burn perpetually for the love of the Clan.
Some 400 members and friends attended the 140th Anniversary Dinner at Red Star Restaurant.
A souvenir magazine to commemorate its 140th Anniversary was published.
(acknowledgment: information from Kwong Wai Siew Li Si Shut Association 140th Anniversary Magazine)