The Peranakan Association Singapore is charged with the mission of preserving and promoting Peranakan culture. The Association and its activities are run by an elected committee of volunteers, and primarily funded by donations. Amongst its outreach efforts are The Peranakan Magazine, published twice a year, and The Peranakan Voices, a choral group that engages through music and ‘live’ performances.
TPAS enjoys close working relationships with its sister associations – the Gunong Sayang Association, the Association of Chetti Melaka and the Eurasian Association. We also continue to strengthen our bonds with government bodies including the National Heritage Board and Singapore Tourism Board. The Association regularly collaborates with grassroots organisations in service to the general community.
TPAS is also a founding member of the Federation of Peranakan Associations, which comprises 13 organisations spanning the Asia-Pacific rim from Thailand through Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.
The Association’s annual calendar includes two key events: The Peranakan Ball and the Baba Nyonya Convention, both of which afford members the chance to meet and learn about aspects of culture and heritage.
The history of The Peranakan Association Singapore (TPAS) goes back to its origins when it was formed on 17 August 1900 as the Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA), with Mr 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 SCBA attracted the leading lights of Peranakan society. 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 the members. Penang followed suit in 1920.
On 31 August 1931 the SCBA petitioned the Governor of Singapore, Sir Cecil Clementi, for the appointment of a Chinese member to the Executive Council. Though not immediately acceded to, the request did eventually lead to the appointment of SCBA member Mr Wee Swee Teow to the Executive Council in 1933. The Petition was jointly signed by Sir Lim Han Hoe, Mr Heah Joo Seang and Sir Tun 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 . It finally became The Peranakan Association Singapore (TPAS) on 23 February 1966.
The first Baba Nyonya Convention was held in Penang in 1988. The annual event was then rotated with the other founding associations in Melaka and Singapore. In the last decade, the initiation of the Federation of Peranakan Associations has enhanced awareness of the Peranakan diaspora and brought 14 member associations under its umbrella, from countries across Southeast Asia down to Australia. The Federation continues to grow as more Peranakan associations are attracted to its fold.
The Baba Nyonya Convention has also since been held in Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Tangerang. In 2020, the 33rd convention will be hosted in Singapore by TPAS. This gathering of the various Federation associations is an event that is eagerly anticipated by its members, who comprise Peranakans and those who love the culture.
Finally, a history of the present-day Peranakan Association will not be complete without paying tribute to our late Honorary Life President, Mr T W Ong whose dedication to and love of the Association has enabled it to thrive during his term of office from 1950 to 1991.
Dr George Tay took over the helm from 1990 until 1996. Mr Lee Kip Lee then took over as president until 2010, when he was made Honorary Life President for his vast contributions to growing the Association in his 14-year tenure. Mr Peter Wee succeeded Mr Lee as President for eight years. In May 2018, Mr Colin Chee was elected President.