In 1939, an Interim Preparatory Committee was set up by groups of pioneer clansman with the aim to establish an association for the Toh community. Beginning its work from a temporary office located at 326 Beach Road, the initiative received overwhelming response from fellow Toh clansman. Within a few months, the committee was able to seek and obtain the necessary approval from the government. Formally established on October 10, 1940, the Singapore Toh Clan Association began operations from a rented premise on the second floor of an office building along Beach Road.
In less than two years after the establishment of the Association, the Japanese began their invasion of Singapore and Malaysia, and all clan related activities in these places came to a halt. This period lasted about 4 years and it was only in 1946 when peace was restored and all clan associations were able to resume their activities. The Toh Clan Association held its first meeting after the war at “建丰号” located at No 30 Jalan Besar. The meeting which was well attended by fellow Toh clansman saw the establishment of an Interim Preparatory Committee as well as the election of a management committee and Mr Tian Ding (添丁) as the Association’s Chairman to promote clan related activities and the spirit of mutual assistance within the Clan. The meeting also decided that a sum of money must be raised and put aside as emergency expenses before starting to collect a monthly subscription from clan members.
As there was no fixed premise for the association, the second committee meeting was held again at No 30 Jalan Besar. Three important decisions were made by the Preparatory Committee. 1) The Committee decided to use Hoon Leng Yie Temple at Leng Kee Road as temporary address. 2) Membership fee was set at $5 along with a monthly contribution of $1 and 3) To employ a secretary to actively promote clan related activities. During the 2nd year In 1946, the Association rented a place on the second floor of No 56 Victoria Street which was designated as the Association’s official address. A members’ meeting was held and seven clan members (本玉，文发，金成，昆仑，克玺，青云，孝景) were appointed to draft the Association’s constitution which was passed on 23 June of the same year. A Chairman and the Association’s first management committee were also elected and in 1947, a department of mutual affairs was set in accordance with the articles of the constitution. The department was responsible for assisting fellow Toh clansman in welfare related matters such as the allocation of resources, acting as guarantor for new clansman coming from China, helping out with funeral preparations and related activities of fellow clansman as well as maintain the Clan’s temples and affiliated schools etc.
In 1948, the Association moved to the second floor of No 8 Tan Quee Lan Street along North Bridge Road.
In 1949, Mr Wen Jiang (文姜) was elected as Chairman of the Association. During his tenure, he mooted the idea of purchasing a permanent office for the Association. He also established the position of honorary chairman and appointed 3 members ( 曙东， 金树, 志艺) as honorary chairmen. He also sought to increase the number of members in the Association and the positive responses received, helped lay the foundation for future fund-raising activities by the Association.
In 1951, in a bid to raise funds for purchasing a permanent office for the Association, the management committee decided to change the name of the Association from “Singapore Toh Clan Association” to “Nanyang Toh Clan Association”. The committee felt that it would take a long time to raise adequate funds if they depend solely on clansman from Singapore and thus the name change would enable the Association to solicit donations from more people.
In 1952, the Association’s Constitution was amended and members of the management committee will now serve a two year term instead. A trustee for the Association’s property was also appointed and registered with the authorities accordingly.
In 1954, under the leadership of clansman, Mr Cheng Shi (诚实), the Association’s management committee decided that the purchase of a permanent office for the Association would be their foremost priority and this was in line with the wishes of the previous management committee. Eventually, a plot of land at No 31 Kinta Road was purchased and designated as the Association’s office with the efforts and cooperation from the committee. Construction for the permanent office was completed on 12 Dec of the same year in conjunction with the Association’s 15th anniversary. Coincidentally, the local Chinese community also began its efforts to call for the establishment of Nanyang University and the promotion of Chinese culture. To support this effort, the entire management committee became members of Nanyang University and donated the gifts they received for the Association’s anniversary to the University’s School Building Fund. In the same year, it was also decided that the Association’s Chairman shall be the trustee of the Association’s property.
In 1956, with the growing realisation on the importance of education, a section was set up within the Association to raise funds for scholarships to help Toh Clan’s needy students to attain higher education. Generous clansman would also donate to these bursaries during occasions like weddings and funerals.
In 1958, Toh’s clansmen applied to start a second Toh Clan Association which was approved by the authorities in 1959. The Association was named Yun Feng Association and was initially located at 387C along Yio Chu Kang Road. A music society was also set up and the premises soon became too small for the Association’s activities. In addition, a mutual help society was established in 1963 followed by the setting up of an education bursary in 1982 for Association’s members. These initiatives greatly benefitted the Toh community.
In 1962, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce sought compensation for the atrocities committed on the Chinese community in Singapore by the Japanese Imperial Army during the war 20 years ago. This effort was supported wholeheartedly by the Association and its management committee.
In 1979, in conjunction with the celebrations for the Association’s 40th anniversary, several successful clansmen were appointed to be the Association’s honorary Chairmen. Financially, this strengthens the Association as there were more adequate funds.
In 1984, the Association decided to setup a separate education bursary account and this paved the way for the Association’s subsequent focus on education. 1984 also saw the rapid industrialisation of Singapore’s economy and large-scale land acquisition by the government. This affected many Association’s members who shifted house resulting in a mismatch in the Association’s records as the Association was not updated about the members’ new addresses. It took two years for the Association to resolve this and to update the records.
In 1988, the articles of the Association’s constitution were amended to invite non-members inclusive of female to join the Association. At the same time, Honorary Chairmen and other sponsors were invited. In order to accord them the same membership right to elect others and to be elected, all honorary Chairmen and patrons were invited to be members of the Association. For administrative efficiency, a one-time payment of $200 dollars was collected from them to enjoy lifetime membership. The maximum number of the general assembly was also fixed at 50 members. 27 persons were also deemed to be part of the management committee and it was decided that the Association will publish an obituary as long as any member of their extended family (such as grandparents, parents and spouses) who passed away. These expenses will be covered by the honorary Chairman and the management committee at that time.
In 1989, following an increased interest in the activities of clan associations in Singapore, the Association became a member of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA). This ensures that the Association kept pace with societal developments and continue to play a positive and important role. In the same year, in conjunction with its 50th anniversary, a special commemorative book was published documenting the activities of fellow clansman both locally and overseas.
In 1990, the area around Yio Chu Kang Road was acquired by the government affecting “Yun Feng Association” which had to move to No. 31 Kinta Road in 1991 for it to continue its activities. Therefore, the two associations for fellow Toh clansman are now co-located under the same roof and often co-organised many activities together. Amongst them were the 35th and 55th Anniversaries of the two Associations. During the joint celebrations, an education fund was set up and it received more than $200,000 in donations by well-wishers. These activities led to the idea of a merger between the two clan associations. This idea took effect on 13 Aug 1997 when both Yun Feng Association and Nanyang Toh Clan Association merged to form the Singapore Toh Clan General Association.
Toh Clan associations have been in Singapore for more than half a century. Apart from reinforcing ties amongst fellow clansman, they have played an important role in supporting community welfare related programmes and activities. The Association have moved with the times, by restructuring the organisation, injecting new blood and will continue to progress into the new century.