Ngee Ann Kongsi

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Ngee Ann Kongsi
Founded 1845
Founder Seah Eu Chin
Headquarters 97 Tank Road, Teochew Building, Singapore 238066

The Ngee Ann Kongsi (Chinese: 義安公司) is a charitable foundation governed by the Ngee Ann Kongsi Ordinance (1933).
It is one of the many Overseas Chinese clan associations that was set up by immigrants from China in the late 19th century.

The foundation's name 'Ngee Ann' is the old name for Chaozhou. The Teochews reside within the province of Guangdong, China, sharing the province with other communities like the Cantonese and Hakkas.

Founded in 1845 by Seah Eu Chin (佘有进) to look after the religious and welfare needs of Teochew immigrants in Singapore, it was set up within a temple then at Phillip Street named Yueh Hai Ching Temple (粤海清), which is a national monument of Singapore now. The Ngee Ann Kongsi has evolved to become a significant contributor towards the enrichment of Singapore society. Considered a non-profit organisation, several education institutions, namely: Ngee Ann Primary School, Ngee Ann Secondary School, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and University of Adelaide Singapore Campus, (former known as Ngee Ann - University of Adelaide Education Centre), Ngee Ann Traditional Chinese Medicine Centre at Balestier Road, and the third largest shopping centre in Singapore's famous Orchard Road shopping belt called Ngee Ann City bears the noun phrase 'Ngee Ann' in their names. Other assets held include the Teochew Funeral Parlour at 10 Ubi Road 4, and also the Memorial at Yishun Ring Road.

Ngee Ann Kongsi's wholly owned divisions are Ngee Ann Property & Management Pte Ltd, and Ngee Ann Development Pte Ltd, both housed within Ngee Ann City's Tower A. Whereas Ngee Ann Kongsi, Ngee Ann Education Holdings Pte Ltd, Ngee Ann Knowledge Centre, Ngee Ann Cultural Centre Pte Ltd, & Ngee Ann - Adelaide Education Centre are situated within the Teochew Building (formerly Tuan Meng High School) at 97 Tank Road (beside the Church of the Sacred Heart).

Yueh Hai Ching Temple (Wak Hai Cheng Bio)[edit]

The oldest Teochew temple in Singapore, the Wak Hai Cheng Bio now stands in the middle of the prime business district of Raffles Place. Despite being dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers, the 175-year-old Taoist temple commands attention with its imposing entrance and wide courtyard.

The temple, whose name literally translates into "temple of the calm sea built by the Guangdong people", was the first stop for Chinese immigrants in the early 19th century. Before clan associations were organised, temples were the focal point of social activity and many immigrants sought solace in temples such as the Wak Hai Cheng Bio, then situated on the waterfront.

Designed by Chinese craftsmen, the temple was constructed with rosewood imported from China. It has an elaborate roofscape while legendary Chinese figures are engraved on the walls. Wooden tablets with auspicious characters donated by traders and devotees and even one bestowed by Emperor Guang Xu of the Qing Dynasty - indicating the temple's close ties with China can be seen within its perimeter.

It is divided into two portions, one dedicated to Tua Lau Yah or Heavenly Father and another to Ma Zhou or Heavenly Mother. The temple is especially busy during the 1st and 15th day every month of the Lunar calendar, and the 3rd and 23rd days of the third month, which celebrate the birthdays of the Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.

In 1845, the management of the temple was taken over by the Ngee Ann Kongsi, which acquired the current temple site. Between 1852 and 1855, with funds from the Teochew community, the Kongsi constructed a new temple that was to become a symbol of the Teochews' growing eminence in Singapore.

After nearly a century and a half in existence and a painstaking two year restoration by artisans from China ending 1997, the temple was gazetted as a National Monument. The restoration process included cleaning and patching up the temple's elaborate wooden carvings and figurines. Broken roof and terracotta floor tiles were replaced with similar tiles from China.

Today, the impressive temple attracts not only devotees who pray for safety and luck, but also many tourists.

Ngee Ann Cultural Centre[edit]

The Ngee Ann Cultural Centre was set up in 1998 in the distinctive Teochew Building on Tank Road. The Centre aims to promote awareness of Chinese culture, in particular Teochew heritage - through the medium of visual and performing arts - among Singaporeans.

In keeping with its strong track record of community involvement, the Ngee Ann Cultural Centre has decided to expand its engagement with the Singaporean Teochew community and its artists. Chinese calligraphy and brush painting, Teochew opera, dance, music and drama are some of the avenues for this continuing involvement.

The Centre has also been active in supporting artists and performers by offering exhibition space, facilities and organisational resources for local and international artistic and cultural activities.

A highlight of the Cultural Centre's calendar is the Annual National Teochew artists Art and Chinese Calligraphy Exhibition. Organised by the Centre on November 19 every year, the event brings together amateur and professional artists of Teochew ancestry to exhibit their works in the Centre's Ngee Ann Exhibition Hall. There is even a section showcasing talent from primary and secondary schools to encourage budding young artistes. The exhibition spans hundreds of contemporary and traditional artworks in diverse media such as Chinese brush paintings, calligraphy, watercolours, oils, acrylic and even the odd mixed media artwork. One outstanding artiste is selected from the exhibitors and honoured by having his artwork highlighted on the cover of the accompanying souvenir magazine.

In the promotion of spiritual well-being, the Cultural Centre has been involved in hosting many Dharma / Buddhist spiritual talks and initiations by Tibetan and Chinese religious teachers from all over the world. Inter-religious organisations have also held talks at the Centre.

Apart from a spacious exhibition space and an auditorium, the Centre also has two smaller function rooms on its premises to cater for events of a smaller scale.

The current 39th Chairman of the NACC is Mr Ang Hoon Seng, supported by Vice-chairman Mr Phua Bah Lee.

The Centre organises three annual series of exhibitions, namely: The Teochew Art & Calligraphy Exhibition, Ngee Ann Photographic Exhibition, and 3D Art Exhibition.

Ngee Ann Traditional Chinese Medicine Centre[edit]

Now it is partnering China's Longhua Hospital, with their registrars and specialists coming in to provide their services.

The Kongsi is continuing to explore new areas that will improve the well-being of Singapore society. One way will be to look into the needs of an ageing population and to explore the field of alternative medicine.

The Ngee Ann Traditional Chinese Medicine Centre at Balestier Road was set up in November 2000 by Ngee Ann Kongsi, investing $1 million in it over three years. The 5,000 sq ft (460 m2). non-profit Centre offers traditional medicine and acupuncture among modern surroundings.

Highlights at the centre include a select team of physicians from China and a medicinal brewing machine, which extracts the essence of the prescribed herbs and packs them in sterilised pouches, offering a convenient way to consume traditional medicine.

It has as its practitioners some of the best and most respected medical professionals from China. The doctors have specialised skills in the treatment of various aliments from the basic colds, high blood pressure, sinus problems to the more complicated and life-threatening diseases like kidney, heart problems and even cancer. Patients have a choice of either seeking traditional herbal cures or acupuncture treatments. The increasing patient numbers at the centre indicate that more people are seeking the benefits of a natural cure system.

The current 39th Chairman of the TCMC is an ex-Member of Parliament - Mr Phua Bah Lee, director also in Metro Holdings Ltd, and Singapura Finance Ltd.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic[edit]

Through the visionary efforts of Dr Lien Ying Chow who was President of the Kongsi thrice in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Ngee Ann Polytechnic started out as Ngee Ann College based at the Teochew Building on Tank Road in 1963. The college later moved to the Kongsi's land in Clementi, changing its name to Ngee Ann Technical College, before taking on its current name in 1982. Ngee Ann Polytechnic is now internationally acclaimed for its academic excellence and close industry links. Some 14,300 full-time and 5,400 part-time students attend classes at the 36-hectare campus in more than 20 fields of study offered by 14 academic departments. It is the second oldest polytechnic in Singapore.

The Kongsi contributes 75% of its yearly surplus to the polytechnic; and to date, it has donated about $100 million to the polytechnic.

But a change in the ordinance in 2007, parliament has approved and decreed that the Kongsi will henceforth reduce the donation to 25% of the yearly surplus, while the remaining amount be donated to other educational institutions in Singapore. The Kongsi now contributes 25% of its revenues to the polytechnic since the change in the Ngee Ann Kongsi (Incorporation) Ordinance, which was passed in July 2007.

Among the first educational institutions to benefit from the new adjustment are:
National University of Singapore SGD$3 million
Nanyang Technological University SGD$3 million
Singapore Management University SGD$3 million
School of the Arts - SOTA SGD$12 million
National Junior College SGD$0.5 million
Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus
Autism Resource Centre
Jurong Junior College
School of Science and Technology, Singapore SGD$8.1 million

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