Week 53: 30 Dec to 31 Dec

30 December

Ee Hoe Hean Club (43 Bukit Pasoh Road) is one of the oldest millionaires' clubs in Singapore. Founded in 1895, it was a social and business club where like-minded Chinese businessmen networked and exchanged ideas. It was exempted from registration under the Societies Ordinance 1889 then, and functioned as a social and business club. Originally located on 28 Duxton Hill, it moved to 38 Club Street in 1911, before moving again to its present location at Bukit Pasoh Road in 1925. The members rented the three-storey high Ee Hoe Hean Club building before they bought the property on 30 December 1927.

A 3,000 strong Singapore Chinese Anti-Japanese Volunteer Battalion, formed on Christmas Day 1941 and named after its chief instructor and commander, Lieutenant Colonel John Dalley of the Federated Malay States police force. Dalforce was initiated by the Chung Kuo Mobilisation Council which was headed by Tan Kah Kee. Formed on 30 December 1941, the Council brought together both ends of the Chinese political spectrum, the Kuomintang and the Communists. The Chinese were determined to resist the Japanese invaders, having seen their mainland brothers fight the Japanese since the 1930s. The Council met daily attempting to maintain law and order, provide a supply of labourers to the British army and ensure the defence of Singapore. As the Japanese invasion was imminent, it became apparent that the recruitment of the local Chinese against the Japanese was essential, despite the fact that the majority of these Chinese were allied to the Communists. The British Government relented and on 25 December 1941, Dalforce was established.

The Singapore Sikh Education Foundation (SSEF) was inaugurated on the 30 December 1990 with the primary objective of providing mother tongue education to Sikh/Punjabi children living in the country.


31 December

Behn, Meyer & Co. was established in Singapore on 1 November 1840 as a partnership between two Germans, Theodor August Behn and Valentin Lorenz Meyer. In its initial years, the firm dealt with the trading of tropical produce such as coconut oil, copra, pepper, camphor and rattan, but it subsequently ventured into shipping and insurance. Meyer's younger brother Arnold Otto Meyer later joined as a clerk, and was soon admitted as a partner. The younger Meyer subsequently returned to Germany, and founded Arnold Otto Meyer Co. The partnership between Behn and Valentin Meyer dissolved in 31 December 1849 over differences in character and business approach.

Rev. Dr. W. G. Shellabear, a former army officer and later missionary, began the Methodist Mission Press in December 1890, to publish materials for the Methodist mission. The Press published tracts, dictionaries and translations. Located in a shophouse at the junction of Selegie Road and Sophia Road, the Press expanded rapidly, with staff increase, and publishing in 12 languages. The lack of space in the shophouse, and its distance from the business city centre, resulted in the move to a rented, large upper room in the back alley of 28 Raffles Place in 1893. Until this time, the business had been known as the Amelia Bishop Press (named after a Boston financial donor), and it was felt that the name did not link clearly enough with the mission, and a name change made it the American Mission Press. The next name change in 1906 made it the Methodist Publishing House. Then, in April 1908, the organisation moved to a new 3-storey building, in red brick and plaster, situated at the junction of Armenian Street and Stamford Road (pictured). The new premises included a retail book-store with their printing department. Its close proximity to so many schools, led to an increase in book sales. The press was so commercially successful that its original role solely for the missions was overshadowed, and the Publishing House became public stock company. It was thus sold off and incorporated on 31 December 1927, as Malaya Publishing House Limited. The new MPH bought the old one.

Christmas Island, located in the Indian Ocean, 360 km south of Java, near the Cocos-Keeling Islands and 1,400 km north-west Australia (800 miles south of Singapore). Currently under the Australian government, the island was annexed to the Straits Settlement in 1888 and consequently dministered via Singapore. It is mined for its rich phosphate deposits. This island is not to be mistaken for the Christmas Island located in the Pacific Ocean, 2,000 km south of the Hawaiian Islands, where nuclear tests had been conducted. That island was discovered on Christmas eve of 1777 by Captain Cook. After the war, the island's jurisdiction fell under the Colony of Singapore. However, by 1948, the mining business came under the Australian and New Zealand governments. Many from Singapore along with other labourers continued to move to the island to support the mining business. With Singapore's independence imminent, the British proposed that Christmas island be separated from Singapore's jurisdiction by 1957. With potential losses from phosphate earnings of up to 170,000 pounds a year, Singapore was offered 2.9 million pounds (S$20 million) compensation, negotiated up from 1.25 million pounds by her governor. The island was handed over to Australia on 6 June 1957, becoming a separate entity for some time between 31 December 1957 until the transfer was effected on 1 October 1958.

For many years, Cathay Restaurant at the Cathay Building was regarded as one of the finest Chinese restaurants in Singapore. It was the choice venue for exquisite Chinese food and was a favoured setting for many a special occasion. The Cathay Restaurant was not a Chinese restaurant when it first opened in 1940. In fact, it served European fare. The Cathay Hotel and Cathay Restaurant were Mrs Loke Yew’s, (the founder of Cathay Organisation and the developer of Cathay Building) passions. She paid great attention to the restaurant; from its management to selection of dishes and menus. The advent of the sixties saw a decline in its popularity as many Chinese restaurants had begun to sprout up and the market became competitive. On 31 December 1964, with new initiatives by the company, the restaurant closed and was converted into Cathay Organisation’s head office.