The Master said:”Can I talk about Xia ritual? Its inheritor, the country of Qi, has not preserved sufficient evidence. Can I talk about Yin ritual? Its inheritor, the country of Song, has not preserved sufficient evidence. There are not enough records and not enough wise men; otherwise, I could draw evidence from them.” (The Analects of Confucius, Chapter 3.9, Translation and Notes by Simon Leys, W W Norton & Company, 1997)
According to renowned historian Qian Mu（钱穆）, the core spirit of the Zhou Dynasty’s （周朝）feudal system was to restore failed states and revive destroyed lineages. Thus, it established the feudal state of Qi（杞） for the descendants of the Xia Dynasty（夏朝）and the feudal state of Song（宋）for the descendants of the Yin Dynasty（殷朝）. However, these two states did not keep proper historical records and lacked administrative talents. Thus by Confucius’ time, there was insufficient information for him to study the history of these two preceding dynasties.
Singapore marks 200 years of Raffles’ arrival in 2019. The bicentennial commemoration also traces 700 years of Singapore history. However, except for a few excavation sites as well as historical anecdotes which proved that Singapore was not just a tiny fishing village but an important regional trading port for 500 years before the British, it is difficult to narrate a full history of pre-British Singapore due to the lack of historical records.
As Singapore marks off 700 years of history, Tung Ann District Guild also celebrates its 88th anniversary this year. To commemorate the occasion, this anthology was compiled by the 41st Executive Committee on the recommendation of Committee Member Mr Anthony Ng（黄和汀）, who proposed a collection of the stories of early Tung Ann immigrants to Singapore. This anthology showcases how these ordinary folk built Singapore up from scratch and highlights their invaluable contributions to our nation.
There are many talented and successful Tung Ann compatriots in Singapore. Famous among them are Tan Kah Kee（陈嘉庚）, Tan Lark Sye（陈六使）, Tan Ean Kiam（陈廷谦）and Tan Boon Khah（陈文确）. Records and studies about them are numerous. However, there have been more than a million Tung Ann compatriots who have lived in and contributed to Singapore since then. They are the nameless heroes who, through their efforts, made Singapore what it is today. Their life stories, if unrecorded, would have been lost forever. These individual stories are part of the collective Singapore Story and should be recorded for posterity.
This anthology focuses on the stories of our Guild’s forebears, particularly those who had migrated from Tung Ann to Singapore. They range from the stories of those who had been born in Singapore before the Second World War to those who came to Singapore only after the 1949 Communist takeover of China. Their various struggles are part and parcel of our colourful history.
In addition to the print issues, we also intend to provide electronic issues which will be updated with more stories as the tapestry of our tales continues to be woven. By delving into the rich history of Tung Ann stories, we in turn enrich the Singapore Story.
Translated by Yap Pheng Hui