Brief History | Organisation
The Goh (Wu) Clan originates from the Jiangshu Province of China. In ancient China, the ancestors of Goh lived in the town of Meg. Today, descendants of Goh clan, like other Chinese, dotted the world.
In Singapore, there are many descendants of Goh as well. The Singapore Yen Leng Association (the predecessor of the current Singapore Yen Leng Goh Clan General Association) was formed in 1928. The Association celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year (2002).
As with other Chinese clan associations in Singapore, the main objectives of the Goh Clan Association are: To remember our ancestors, to foster close links among clan members and to promote the common interests of members.
In its early days, as most of the founding members were wage earner with meager incomes, the running of the Association was seriously hampered by the lack of funds. Unable to pay for the high rentals, the Association had to move from one location to another.
Some years later, the Association finally managed to settle down near the Chin Swee Road area. The new rented premises were big enough to accommodate a middle hall for the worshiping of our ancestral God and a front hall as office. The Association also functioned as a half way house to assist many of the clansmen coming from China to look for jobs and settle down in Singapore. It also acted as a mediator and helped to settle many disputes among clan members.
In 1939, the Association started to expand. More members were recruited. The early clan leaders were enlightened enough to adopt an open-door policy to accommodate members from all dialects groups. Its membership increased to more than 800 in a short span of time. Unfortunately, the Second World War broke out at this juncture and Singapore was invaded and occupied by the Japanese. Many Singaporeans fled.
During those darkest days, the Association was force& to close down temporarily. It was not until the end of the War that the Association was able to revive its activities. In 1946, a year after the Japanese Occupation, the Associapon called for a general meeting for restoration. Another membership campaign was launched and response was overwhelming. The membership strength surged to 1,500, the highest since the Association’s inception.
In 1952, the Association was able to rally the support of its members and purchase a three-storey property at 10 Mohd Sultan Road as its own premises. The new premises were officially opened on Sep 9 that year when the Association celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
The Hall of the Association was beautifully decorated with the portrait of one of our famous ancestors Jizha hung in the center with a horizontal tablet on top inscribed with four Chinese characters Gua Yon Yi Feng, depicting the life story of Jizha and giving a sense of awe. The four Chinese characters refer to the oft-told famous story of Jizha, epitomizing the virtue of trust-worthiness.
(Jizha lived during the Period of the spring and autumn. Once he was on a state mission to other states. The King of the State of Xu admired very much the sword he wore but felt too embarrassed to ask for it. Jizha noticed the desire of the King and decided to give away the sword as a gift once he completed his mission. However, when he returned after the mission, the King was dead. In order to keep his own promise Jizha then went to visit the King’s tomb and hanged his sword on a tree at the tomb.)
The Hall of the Association also has a four character horizontal tablet with three Chinese characters Zhi De Tang inscribed on it. This refers to the highest virtue of men as epitomized by another Goh’s ancestor, Taibo.
In 1994, the Association’s building was struck by a disaster. A big fire gutted down the adjoining building and burnt part of the Association’s premises. Worst of all, many of the Association’s documents, records and publications of historical values were destroyed either by the fire or by water in the course of fire fighting. The building was in bad shape and needed to be repaired. This was both costly and time consuming.
Thanks to concerted efforts of many of the present Committee members, the difficult task of rebuilding and retrofitting was completed some years back. And the building takes on a new look. The ground floor and the second storey of the Association premises are now rented out to generate regular incomes for the Association.
The Association today has not deviated from its original objectives. However, its activities have been brought up to date so that they more relevant to our modern society and cater to the new needs of members. The Association promotes traditional Chinese culture and values and supports local cultural, welfare and educational activities. Its activities are also designed to strengthen cohesiveness among members and to preserve our cultural heritage. Activities organized by the Association monthly get-togethers for members, festivities and educational tours. In 1997, an educational tour to our ancestral place at attracted many participants. It provides a rare opportunity for members to trace their ancestral roots and have a better insight of the unique Wu (Goh) culture and history.
The Association’s name was changed in 1997 from the Yen Leng Union Association to Singapore Yen Leng Goh General Association so as to keep its image more up to date. Looking ahead, the Association will continue to strive to serve its members better, play an effective role in preserving our cultural heritage, as well as participate in meaningful cultural, charitable and educational activities.