About the Eurasian Association
In 1918, while Europe was at war, Singapore was left to be defended by a garrison of only European volunteers. Several Eurasians mooted an idea to offer their services towards the colony’s defense. On 6 July 1918, Eurasians were sworn in for the first time to form their own Eurasian Company under the Singapore Volunteer Corps. Others also saw a need for a more collective representation in areas of education and welfare, and this led to the formation of the Eurasian Association in June 1919. The Association has since focused on the well-being and advancement of all Eurasians.
During the Second World War, the Association changed its name to the Syonan Eurasian Welfare Association. This was a dark period for the Eurasian community, with many imprisoned in Changi given their links to the Singapore Volunteer Corps, the British Armies or families with British family names. Around 1944, many Eurasian Families were interned in the Bahau Catholic Colony (Mukim VI) in the jungles of Bahau, Negri Sembilan. The post-war era saw the Association slowly rebuilding community bonds. In the late 1950s, women were granted membership to the Eurasian Association, and youth groups were formed to encourage community bonding through sports and cultural exchanges. The 1960s to 1980s saw an ebb in activities with the Association taking on a lower profile in engaging the community.
For the Association, 1989 was known as the year of the Eurasian Awakening, when a younger group of Eurasians decided to take the lead in uplifting the community. This was a turning point for the Association – membership increased, and new programmes and activities were introduced. Many were driven to rekindle a sense of belonging to the community, especially amongst the younger generation of Eurasians.
A Self-Help Group for the Eurasian Community
During the 1990s, the EA expanded its outreach to Eurasians all over Singapore and took on a role to look after every Eurasian who needed help, particularly in education and family support. A study was commissioned to prove that over 100 Eurasian families in Singapore lived below the poverty line. The study was sent to the government in order to justify the need for social assistance programmes. In addition, the Association wanted to make educational advancement programmes available to the entire Eurasian community rather than confine them solely to its members.
In 1994, the Association was accorded Self-Help status by the Government to act on behalf of the Eurasian community in Singapore. The Association became one of the four self-help groups, qualified as a registered charity, and was granted Institute of Public Character (IPC) status. Around the same time, an operating fund, the Eurasian Community Fund (ECF), was created to support the EA’s endowment fund. The ECF is a monthly contribution automatically deducted from the wages of working Singapore Eurasians. In 1995, the government also provided the EA with temporary headquarters at Mountbatten, and eight years later in 2003, the Eurasian Community House at 139 Ceylon Road where Eurasian Association operates today. The House was officially opened by former President SR Nathan on 5 July 2003.
The Eurasian Association, as a Community Self-Help Group working for the public benefit, provides services for Singapore Eurasians in two key areas: educational advancement and welfare for needy Eurasians. In addition, the EA dedicates resources towards the preservation of Eurasian culture and heritage, increasing awareness about Eurasians in Singapore, and providing an avenue for community bonding.