The oldest charitable Medical Institution in Singapore catering to all ethnic groups and core social organisation within the Chinese community in early Singapore.

It was gazzeted as a national monument on 6 july 1973 by the Preservation of National Monuments Board which owns this buildings

“Thong Chai& #8221; means “Benefit to All”. Thong Chai Medical Association has been appropriately named because it manifests the spirit of mutual assistance among the early Chinese settlers. It is the oldest charitable institution in Singapore. It was endowed in 1867 by the philanthropist Gan Eng Seng (the founder of Gan Eng Seng School) and other prominent leaders including Khoo Cheng Tiong and Choo Yoke Lam. The Institution was managed by a Committee comprising leaders of various clans.

The two-storey building built in the South China palace design with three halls, two courtyards and ornamental gables was completed in 1892.

Thong Chai provided free medical services to the poor of all races, a unique feature of early Singapore. Patients received their medicine free of charge at designated dispensaries. In 1911 during an outbreak of malaria Thong Chai became a centre for the distribution of free quinine.

The Institution also served a social purpose within the Chinese community. Public meetings were held there and it was regarded as the headquarters for the Chinese guilds.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce at its inception functioned in a room in Thong Chai until the Chamber moved into Wee Ah Hood’s residence in Hill Street. The new Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Building now stands at 47 Hill Street. 

Thong Chai is the only monument owned by the Preservation of Monuments Board. It was restored at a cost of $ 440,000 and is rented out to an Arts and Crafts dealer.

Written by:
Mr Dhoraisingam S. Samuel