200 years ago, natural disasters and crime waves flooded mainland China making life difficult for the locals. To survive, our fore-fathers of the Kwong-zhou, Wei-zhou and the Siew Hing (KWS) districts came together and sailed the seas, bracing storms to land on a little island called Labuan. This was where they started to envision a new life, building a new future to change their lives and indirectly changed the course of Labuan's future.
In December 18, 1846 the Sultan of Brunei signed a contract under the insistence of the British Government to hand the island over, later claiming it in the name of Her Majesty Queen Victoria of Great Britain. By 1847, the British Colonial Government commenced the development plans of Victoria Island, thus importing labour and natural resources from Hong Kong for the construction of the British Government offices and residences. Hong Kong, also a Crown Colony is largely populated by the people of the Canton district, thus becoming the main factor as to why many KWS folks were sent to Victoria to work.
From 1849 till 1852, the Eastern Archipelago Company started mining coal north of the Island where abundant coal was deposited for their fleet. Due to the large size of the project, a railway track was built for the transportation of coal. With the lack of manpower, more labourers were brought in from Hong Kong and this was the second incident which led to more Chinese being introduced to the existing population.
During this time, the number of labourers for the mining company increased dramatically. They then decided to unite and seek for better welfare for their friends and co-workers. This led to the set up of the Kwong Wei Siew Association.
In the beginning, the Kwong Fook Kung Temple and the Kwong Wei Siew Association were of the same roots, founded by the same 5 members, 翁观聪、梅彬远、李玉昆、黄长才and黄二妹. A plaque in the Kwong Fook Kung Temple has the Kwong Wei Siew Association name carved in it which proves that the Association had already existed in 1852.
The founding members contributed much to the Chinese population's way of life, such as religions, rituals, education, occupation, and even afterlife planning. They not only forked out much of their hard-earned money, handled the details personally.
They understood that after travelling so far from home, it was unlikely for them to return anytime soon. They have also have formed families of their own in Victoria Island thus a decision to set up a cemetery was started and funds were collected to purchase a burial ground.
Back then, it was a time when society was ridden with conflicts and frequent brawls occurring among its members. The British Government was worried that things may get out of hand and thus the Kwong Wei Siew Association was shut down. This turning point led to the second phase of the Association's history. In order for the Association to continue its functions, the registry in the British records was amended to “Temple” in an effort to register the Kwong Wei Siew Association as a religious organization. Thus the installation of Heap Tien Kung Temple was set.
The Heap Tien Kung Temple functioned as a place to worship GuanYu (more commonly known as Guan Gong or Guan DiJun), XuanWu (more commonly known as the XuanTian ShangDi), Hua Tuo (physician), and HuaGuang DaDi (a ritual conducted before every opera performance). The Temple also had a Reverence Hall to place plaques of the late ancestors, especially those without families or descendants, so that the Temple will be able to provide a place for them to rest in peace.
In 1942, the Japanese took over Victoria Island and renamed it Maeda-shima or Maida Island and all the Association's activities were put on hiatus. By 1945, aerial attacks from the Allied Forces forced the Japanese to surrender but many buildings on the once flourishing island were levelled and destroyed.
The Association once again resumed its activities and started on repairs of the Temple and replaced the statuettes of the gods for the worshippers. Members were once again active in the Association and helping to rebuild the Temple. The floor above the Association was rented out, and things were back on track again.
By 1947, the Association's committee board was reinstated and a procurement officer in Harrison's,谭蔚文, started a private school to provide education for the members. This was met with much praises from the community. This was also the year in which the Kwong Wei Siew Association entered its third phase of evolution.
In 1946 to 1955, the British Crown Colonies began post-war compensation and reconstruction plans, the Association formed a committee headed by 江添盛 along with 成员包括胡天禄，and杨锦泉 by his side to help with the reconstruction. They even went to Kota Kinabalu (then Jesselton) to study the plans and help with the development of new plans for Victoria Island.
It was in 1953, during the 3rd Committee Term the only property owned by the Association was the Heap Tien Kung Temple which was situated across the street from the current Public Bank Bhd's building. The local Municipal Council remapped the property according to the surface area of the building, and the Association was compensated with 1.5 shop lots, and drew a lot on 72, Liberty Street (Jalan Merdeka) and half lot on 86, Mundy Street. The Association also took the opportunityof the post-war comp(a )ensation proceedings to legally change the status of the Association to Temple on 9 December, 1955.
It was 1955, the 5th Committee Term took out a bank loan of RM 42,000 and RM 18,000 in cash in order for the Association to buy the properties listed above. The President handled the paperwork and proceedings and was the sole signatory for all the documents.
With all the bank loans the Association's financial status was in disarray. Under the advice of the Treasurer, the Association rented out the shop lot, and eventually only occupied half the shop lot, which consists only of the Meeting Hall, the Altar, and the Reverence Hall.
In 1961, Kwong Wei Siew Association along with the Teo Chew Association and the Hainan Association restored the ownership title of the 14 acre Canton Cemetery. By 1967, the government decided build Rancha-Rancha road but the Canton Cemetery was obstructing the road work. This led to the formation of the Canton Cemetery Committee in order to deal with the situation. By 1973, the cemetery was moved to give way to road construction.
During 1968, the Association was in the 18th cycle of the Committee Term, the status of “Association” have been restored the status from “Temple”. After researching and learning the structure of the Kota Kinabalu's Kwong Siew and Hakka Association, the Association hired a lawyer to amend the constitution, increase the number of trustees of the association's properties to three people, and set the terms for the committee to a period of two years.
1970 marked the beginning of the Association with the new constitution in effect. Notable committees of that year was the former Vice President who has served for seven consecutive terms刘贵 , been elected to the new post of Secretary General and former committee for three terms桂铭生 elected to the new post for General Affairs Officer. Ladies Affairs was also formed on this year with 陈明顺asthe Head. In 1974, 尤金莲 became the first female to be elected as the Committee Member. In July the same year, the Association moved to 63, Beach Street. At that time set up the Mahjong Entertainment Club by the Entertainment Affairs.
In 1972, the 21st Committee Term pioneered the Academic Incentive Awards and the Scholarship Awards, which was first presented in April of the following year. 1972 also marked the year the Government approved the three association's application (KWS, Teo Chew and Hainan) to purchase the 12 acre land nearby, with each association pitching in RM 2,000. The deed was handed over in1980, which was how the Canton Cemetery was expanded to 26 acres of land.
In 1974, The General meeting approved the proposal to purchase a 3-storey shop lot.
In 1975 , The General meeting has made amendment to its constitution that the President shall not hold office for more than five (5) terms.
In 1976, the Sabah authorities lifted the ban on Chinese New Year Lion Dance. The General Affairs Officers, then formed a Lion Dance troupe, with 陈明顺 leading the group in order to restore the traditional Chinese Lion Dance culture back into the community.
In 1976 , Wong Chik Lim and Committee Member Dr 陈荣忠 were appointed as Labuan's City council members.
In 1976 our Association donated RM1,000.00 to Sabah Tsung Tsin Secindary School in aid of their Building fund.
1977, the Committee formed a Kirin Group to commemorate Chinese New Year and become the only Association at that time to have both a Lion Dance troupe and a Kirin Group. That same year, the Welfare Committee made preparations for the first Elders' Appreciation Night at Bay View Restaurant.
In 1978, in support of Chinese education, the Lion Dance troupe organized Fund Raising during the Chinese New Year . They successfully raised RM 5,877.50, The Association also donated an additional RM 12,000 to Sabah Tsung Tsin Secondary School that year. During the Kwong Fook Kung's reopening ceremony in 1978, our Association Lion Dance troupe performed for the occasion.
In 1979, the 25 Committee Term, the Association finally succeeded in purchasing a 4 storey corner shop lot, and decided to sell the half shop lot that they initially had. That year, they donate another RM 5,000 to the Secondary School Funds. In 1980, the Lion Dance troupe raised RM 7,239.62 for Chi Hwa Kindergarten, and by Chinese New Year 1982, a total of RM 20,837.93 was raised for the Chi Wen Primary School's Building Fund.
In 1987, the 29 cycle of the Committee Term, multiplied the number of members and expanded the Association and they finally moved to the 4 storey shop lot at Jalan Bunga Mawar. By 1990, the 30th Committee Term, the Heap Tien Kung Temple was led by年陈观带、冯德成、孙瑛 and others. In memory of those that have passed and contributed so much to the association, the Reverence Hall was reconstructed.
In 1993, 张凤莲 and 何丽红 became the first female Secretary General and Deputy Secretary respectively.
1996, another amendment was made to our Constitution, created a new Deputy Chairman Post with 陈庆麟 been elected. The same year a donation of RM30,000.00 was made to SJK ( C ) Chi Wen in aid of their Building Fund and our association adopted a classroom.
September of 1997 saw the Association holding its 146th Anniversary Celebration with Tan Sri Wong Chik Lim as our Guest of Honour.
In 1999, plans were drawn up to purchase a warehouse, and it was approved during the Annual General Meeting. Justice of Peace, President 陈智琦 successfully purchased a warehouse and designated it as the current Association's registered address.
In 2000, the Youths' Affair and Ladies' Affair drafted their own constitutions, and the Canton Cemetery also detailed their terms and agreement. The Association's constitution was also further amended and translated.
2001 saw the Association moving into the new warehouse, and in 2002, celebrated their 150th Anniversary and also the official opening of the Association's new location.
In 2003, the 38 Committee Term, the Labuan Kwong Wei Siew Association along with the Hainan Association and Teo Chew Association got together for the Canton Cemetery beautification project, resulting with what we see today.
In 2010 during the Annual General Meeting, a proposal to plan for the 160th Anniversary Celebration was raised and approved.
2011 the year the Association and its 42nd Committee Term was restructured with newcomer (was)s Raymond Wong as Deputy President, Chin Hong Vui as the Secretary General and William Lo in the Committee. During this term (so far), President xxx (please insert the Mandarin name), Deputy President Raymond Wong and Committee Member William Lo and Treasurer Richard Ho have since updated the Membership Register (supported by a group of sub-committee) and computerised the Association Accounts, thereby ensuring all information in the Association now filed electronically, and as a result, with the new software, the Association's operations are being managed much more efficiently.
Wong as Deputy President, Chin Hong Vui as the Secretary General and William Lo in the Committee. During this term (so far), President 胡镇源 , Deputy President Raymond Wong and Committee Member William Lo and Treasurer Richard Ho have since updated the Membership Register (supported by a group of sub-committee) and computerised the Association Accounts, thereby ensuring all information in the Association now filed electronically, and as a result, with the new software, the Association's operations (are )are being managed much more efficiently.
On this Year Jack Yeow has been appointed as the Organizing Chairman for the 160 Anniversary Celebration to be held in year 2012, with Committees comprising of the Youth's Affairs, the Ladies' Affairs Section. In early 2012, the Secretary General , Chin Hong Vui was appointed by the Federal Government as a Councillor in the Advisory Council of Labuan Corporation (LC) . We are also pleased to inform that Datuk Chin Chee Kee, our former Chairman and current Life Chairman had been appointed to this position previously and he has since completed his term of appointment. President胡镇源, Deputy President Raymond Wong and General Affairs 廖光海 decided to purchase new furniture for the Association's Headquarters, and the WiFi installation, historic photographs scanning, data collection, to collaborate with Raymond Wong's website idea. The Secretary General worked hard to collect the information to aptly prepare the History of the Association, and also to publish in the website.
Heap Tien Kung, during the birth of Guan Yu, the Lion Dance Troupe was re-established, with President 胡镇源 and Deputy President Raymond Wong donated two Lion Heads, which led to the motivation to push for more training and practices by Heap Tien Kung's Head of Affairs 陈泰安 and the Lion Dance Troupe's Leader陈锦坤.
This year marks the Labuan Kwong Wei Siew Association's 160th Anniversary milestone in history and will not be the end of it. The Association will go on from generation to generation, withstanding the test of time and the accomplishments of tomorrow will continue to be penned in the history of the new era.