Peranakan philanthropy in early Singapore

By Peranakan Museum / August 22, 2017

gan eng seng

A short video on Peranakan philanthropy in early Singapore, focusing on the work of one pioneer, Gan Eng Seng.

Mr Kwa Chong Guan speaks of the sense of 'moral obligation' that many of the early immigrants felt to their communities. Also included are oral history recordings with his descendents, such as his grandson Mr Gan Hock Hye and Mrs Marie Ethel Bong, the great grand-daughter of his close friend Mr Simon Aroozoo.

The early British colonial government relied on a system of 'proxy' leadership to govern Singapore, as the governing Residents lacked funding to employ policemen and other officials. As Kwa notes in his essay "The Community in the Colonial State" (from 'Great Peranakans: Fifty Remarkable Lives', 2015), the colonial administrators turned to community leaders to govern their own communities. They also provided public sector funding for public works, and other amenities in the early settlement such as hospitals, schools, burial grounds and temples.