Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
Logo of Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
|Location||Balestier, Novena, Singapore|
|Collection size||Artefacts from the Xinhai Revolution and life of Sun Yat-sen|
The Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall (simplified Chinese: 孙中山南洋纪念馆; traditional Chinese: 孫中山南洋紀念館; pinyin: Sūn Zhōngshān Nányáng Jìniàn Guǎn), also known as Wan Qing Yuan (simplified Chinese: 晚晴园; traditional Chinese: 晚晴園; pinyin: Wǎn Qíng Yuán), and formerly as Sun Yat Sen Villa (simplified Chinese: 孙中山故居; traditional Chinese: 孫中山故居; pinyin: Sūn Zhōngshān Gùjū), is a two-storey colonial style villa in Balestier, Singapore. The villa is now a museum commemorating Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, who visited Singapore nine times between 1900 and 1911.
Located at 12 Tai Gin Road in Balestier, the villa occupies an area of approximately 3,120 square metres and played a crucial role in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution by serving as the Tongmenghui's base in Nanyang (Southeast Asia) in the early 20th century.
The villa was designed in 1900 and built in 1901 by a businessman named Boey Chuan Poh, and named Bin Chan House, a name that he also gave to a racehorse that he owned. The house was sold in 1902 to Lim Ah Liang. The building was constructed in a classical colonial style and featured ornate arched windows and doors, eaves decorated with floral patterns, and movable louvred windows.
In 1905, the villa was bought by the rubber magnate Teo Eng Hock – great-granduncle of Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean – from a timber merchant for his mother, Tan Poh Neo, as a place of retirement. In July 1905, Sun Yat-sen met Teo Eng Hock, Tan Chor Lam and Lim Nee Soon through his close friend, Yau Lit, when he was on his way to Europe from Japan. In 1906, when Sun returned to Singapore, Teo offered Wan Qing Yuan for use as the Tongmenghui's headquarters in Southeast Asia. Wan Qing Yuan became the centre for the planning of numerous uprisings and fundraising activities leading to the 1911 Xinhai Revolution. Three uprisings – Chaozhou Uprising (May 1907), Zhennanguan Uprising (December 1907) and Hekou Uprising (April 1908) – were planned at Wan Qing Yuan. According to the former Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Yeo, the flag of the Republic of China was sewn in the Sun Yat Sen Villa by Teo and his wife, Tan Sok Jee.
Teo Eng Hock sold Wan Qing Yuan in August 1910 and the villa changed ownership many times until it was bought in 1937 by a group of six leading Chinese businessmen in Singapore, namely Lee Kong Chian, Tan Ean Kiam, Lee Chin Tian, Chew Hean Swee, Lee Chor Seng and Yeo Kiat Tiow. In the following year, they donated the villa to the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce (now the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SCCCI).
After the establishment of the Republic of China, the Chinese Nationalist Government funded the refurbishment of Wan Qing Yuan and turned it into a Memorial Hall in 1940. At the same time, they gathered information and artefacts related to Sun Yat-sen from overseas Chinese communities and opened the hall to the public in 1940.
During the Japanese occupation of Singapore (1942–1945), the Japanese military used Wan Qing Yuan as a communication base and many of the original artefacts and furniture of the hall were destroyed. After the war, the Nationalist Government funded the restoration of Wan Qing Yuan and set up the Kuomintang's Singapore branch in the villa. However, following the establishment of the People's Republic of China in October 1949, the British colonial government in Singapore prohibited the establishment of an overseas Kuomintang branch, so in 1951, the villa was handed back to the SCCCI and became known as the "Sun Yat Sen Villa" after renovations in 1964.
Wan Qing Yuan was gazetted as a National Monument on 28 October 1994 by the Singapore government. Two years later, the SCCCI renamed Wan Qing Yuan to 'Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall' and announced its plans to expand the place, so the villa was closed in November 1997 for a restoration at a cost of S$7.5 million. It was opened as a museum in November 2001. In 2009, the SCCCI appointed the National Heritage Board to manage the museum, and redevelopment works took place in October 2010. One year later, Wan Qing Yuan was reopened to the public on 8 October 2011 to commemorate the centenary of the Xinhai Revolution.
The villa is now home to a collection of close to 400 artefacts, including calligraphy works, photographs, old books, paintings, sculptures & etc., all spread over the five galleries in two levels. The villa is redecorated in the style of an old Peranakan house and has 180 new artefacts added. Most of the paintings, the bronze wall mural, and the bronze statues and busts, worth over S$1.5 million, which were commissioned by the museum, were paid for by the Lee Foundation.
- A two-metre tall bronze wall mural which spans 60 metres to the back of the building and depicts Singapore's history from the 1840s to the 1940s. It was sculpted by artists from China between 1999 and early 2005 at a cost of around S$1 million. It depicts scenes of Singapore as a fishing village in the 1840s and the Sook Ching Massacre in 1942.
- Bronze statues scattered around the garden, including those of persons who helped Sun Yat-sen in the Xinhai Revolution. There is a one-metre tall sculpture of Sun Yat-sen seated on a chair, which was presented by the Chinese government in 1937. More bronze sculptures of Sun line the hallway leading to the museum's entrance.
- Oil and watercolour paintings and calligraphy works by Singaporean and Chinese artists, such as painter Liu Kang, Buddhist monk and artist Reverend Song Nian, and Cultural Medallion-winning artists Ong Kim Seng and Tan Swie Hian. These are found in the galleries on level two.
- Photograph of Sun Yat-sen and members of the Tongmenghui's Singapore branch, taken at Wan Qing Yuan around 1906.
- Nanyang and the Founding of the Republic, the Memoir of Teo Eng Hock, a book by Teo Eng Hock, providing a detailed record of the Tongmenghui's activities in Southeast Asia.
- Wan Qing Yuan and the Chinese Revolution, a recollection by Tan Chor Lam, a book printed in the 1940s, containing records of the Tongmenghui's activities in Singapore.
- A work of Chinese calligraphy, bearing the Chinese characters bo ai (博愛; "universal love"), presented by Sun Yat-sen to Teo Eng Hock's nephew Teo Beng Wan.
- Seal belonging to Tan Chor Lam, engraved with the Chinese characters jie ai guo yuan (結愛國緣; "love for country and fellow countrymen").
- Goh, Charles (15 Dec 2011). "Debunking the Myth of Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall",
- 支持孙中山革命运动的新加坡革命志士: 张永福 (1871–1957)
- Chang, Rachel (17 July 2010). 'This is common ancestry', The Straits Times (printed edition), p. A17
- Dr Sun & 1911 Revolution: Teo Eng Hock (1871–1957)
- The Straits Times, "House of history", 29 December 2005
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