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The Ying Fo Fui Kun building at Telok Ayer Street


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By Lam Chun See


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Photo courtesy of Good Morning Yesterday.


It was reported in the Straits Times on December 21, 2013 that tunneling works for the construction of the Downtown Line had caused cracks to appear in the walls of the Ying Fo Fui Kun building at Telok Ayer Street; a building which was gazetted for preservation as a national monument under the Preservation of Monuments Act in 1998.


Did you know that this building used to be a Chinese school? As it happens, I have a neighbour, Mr Yong, who is a retired teacher; and he graduated from this school in 1954. The name of the school was Ying Xin School (应新学校).


I was unable to find out much information about this school until, by a stroke of luck, I stumbled upon an article in an old book that I happened to possess. The book was The Straits Time Bilingual Collection, Vol 1, which I bought in 1982. In it was an article written by Tan Ban Huat entitled, Mandarin becomes the lingua franca of the Chinese here (华语学校,源远流长). The article traced the teaching of Mandarin in Singapore up to the time of the Japanese Occupation; and ended with these words:


“The Japanese Occupation of Singapore saw the temporary setback of Chinese education. However, during the post-war period, Chinese schools mushroomed and by the 1950s, Mandarin had become the lingua franca of the Chinese-educated. By the same token those who could not converse in it were considered uneducated!”


Although the article made no mention of Ying Xin School, it was accompanied by this gem at the end. (Check out the photo in the blog Good Morning Yesterday)



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