About the History of the Peranakan Association

The history of The Peranakan Association goes back to its origins when, as the Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA), it was formed on 17 August 1900 with Tan Jiak Kim as its first president.

One of its original objectives was “to afford facilities for the discussion of all questions relating to the social and moral welfare” of the community.

The Association attracted the leading lights of Peranakan society and it did not take long before a branch of the SCBA was established in October of the same year in Malacca, the land of the forefathers of its members. Penang followed suit in 1920. The Association’s interest in public affairs was evident when, at an Annual General Meeting on 13 December 1916, a resolution “that the government should promote higher education by endowing scholarships or preferably starting a technical school” was forwarded to the government by Lim Boon Keng who received the standard innocuous reply that “it is the intention of government, as soon as conditions admit, to inaugurate a system of higher education in the Colony.”

On 31 August 1931, the SCBA petitioned the Governor, Cecil Clementi, for the appointment of a Chinese member to the Executive Council, a request that though not immediately acceded to, did eventually lead to the appointment of SCBA member Wee Swee Teow to the Executive Council in 1933. The petition was jointly signed by Lim Han Hoe, Heah Joo Seang and Tan Cheng Lock as Presidents of the SCBA Singapore, SCBA Penang and SCBA Malacca respectively. In it, they also called for the nomination of one elected representative from each of their associations to the Legislative Council.

With the emergence of Singapore as an independent state the name of the SCBA Singapore was changed to the Singapore Chinese Peranakan Association on 11 December 1964 before finally becoming The Peranakan Association, Singapore on 23 February 1966. The Membership of The Peranakan Association has risen from 342 in 1993 to 1890 today.

Since the first Baba Convention held in Penang in 1988, this annual event, hosted in rotation by Penang, Malacca, Singapore and more recently, Phuket, has been a feature eagerly anticipated by members.

Finally, a history of the present-day Peranakan Association will not be complete without paying tribute to our Honorary Life Presidents, the late T W Ong, whose dedication to and love of the Association enabled it to thrive during his term of office from 1950 to 1991, and his successors, George Tay, Lee Kip Lee and now Peter Wee.