Singapore Malayalee Association was founded in 1917.
Started as a social and cultural club, SMA today has
developed into a major cultural organization of the
Malayalees in the region. At first, the organization
was called Keraleeya Mahajana Sangham. In 1918, at
its first AGM, the organization was renamed Malayalee
Association. Mr V.R. Menon was the first President of
the Association. In 1947,the Association was reorganized
and renamed Singapore Kerala Samajam. In 1952,Mr A.
Shukoor, the then President of the Samajam, took a bold
step and bought the present building at 44 Race Course
Road for $34,000.00. The building was in his name until
2001 when the present Executive Committee transferred
the Title Deed to the names of the current trustees
of SMA. By 1953,the Samajam had established 14 branches
in the Malayalee heartlands of Little India, Tanjong
Pagar, Kampong Bahru, Pasir Panjang, Alexandra, Bukit
Timah North, Bukit Timah South, Bukit Timah 6th mile,
Upper Serangoon, Sembawang, Nee Soon, Jalan Kayu, Katong
and Changi. Mr J.P.Gomez, the then Samajam President,
highlighted the need to have a single organization for
the Malayalees in Singapore. His efforts were partially
realized when seven of the fourteen existing Malayalee
organizations in Singapore finally merged with Kerala
Samajam to form the Singapore Kerala Association (SMA)
in 1959. Mr J.P.Gomez served the Association for over
60 years from 1920 to 1980 in various capacities, including
that of President. Mr S.M.Haneefa has the honour of
serving SMA as its President for ten years (1973 - 1986)
with breaks between his tenure. Mr V.Surendranath has
the distinction of serving the Association as President
for eight consecutive years (1961-1968).
The Executive Committee under the leadership of Mr V.Surendranath
settled the outstanding bank loan incurred in purchasing
the present building and also carried out a major renovation
to the building. Another major renovation to the present
building was carried out by the Executive Committee
led by Mr K.O. George (1987 - 1990). In 1996,during
the Presidency of Mr Michael Fernandez (1995 - 1997),
the Executive Committee submitted a detailed report
of the Association to the National Archives Department
of the National Heritage Board as part of their microfilming
records from Indian organizations. The materials needed
for this were researched and collated by Mrs Sarojini
Chandran, the then Vice President of SMA. Those who
wish to know more about SMA may visit the National Heritage
Board at 140 Hill Street. SMA was represented in the
Constitutional Protection of Minority Rights formed
by the Singapore Government in the 1960s. In 1970, the
Executive Committee led by Dr. V.P.Nair organized a
blood donation camp. A large number of Malayalees came
forward to donate blood.
In the year 2006, Singapore Malayalee Association formally
changed to its current name from Singapore Kerala Association.
Currently Singapore Malayalee association has taken
up a huge task of renovating the SMA building. Once
completed the new location is expected to serve as a
centre to enhance the community activities of Singapore
Being the first Indian Association formed in Singapore
and the oldest registered Malayalee organization outside
India, SMA has a pivotal role to play in the development
and promotion of the Malayalee culture, language and
heritage in the region.
With the changing pattern of the membership and the
varying aspirations of the community, SMA needs to revisit
the underlying issues of the community and adjust its
goals and objectives accordingly. Basically, the Malayalee
community in Singapore can be classified into three
groups - the ‘pioneers’, the ‘locals’
and the ‘expatriates’. The ‘pioneers’
are a dying force whose objective is mainly the promotion
of the language and culture. The ‘locals’
on the other hand would like to see SMA engaging in
activities that not only benefit the Malayalee community
but also the Singapore society as a whole. The ‘expatriates’,
in addition to the above goals, want SMA to adopt a
more ‘look Kerala’ approach and go ‘global’.
The success of SMA depends on its ability to hold these
three groups together and work towards our common objectives.
The future of the association is in the hands of our
younger generations who should be prepared to take over
the helm from the present leadership. Our activities
and programmes need to be more relevant to attract these
people to our fold.
SMA is a member of the National Volunteer Council. The
Association provided volunteers during the outbreak
of the Hand, Foot and Mouth disease in Singapore. It
is currently working with North-East Community Development
Council to set up a Student Care Centre in Sengkang.
SMA works very closely with SINDA, supporting and co-operating
in all its activities. In the past few years, SMA has
rendered its services to People’s Association
(PA) by providing cultural items in various shows organized
by IAGs and also participating in the mammoth cultural
show-cum exhibition by PA ‘Narpani’ group
at Ngee Ann City and Sentosa. SMA was also honoured
with an invitation by Sentosa Development Corporation
to perform at Sentosa during the Indian Cultural Festival.
In the first ever Kerala Food Fair jointly organized
by Silk Air and Carlton hotel, SMA played an active
role by providing exhibits and cultural items. SMA also
raised funds through its cultural shows for National
Kidney Foundation, Asian Women’s Welfare Association
and Ramakrishna Mission.
With the co-operation of the WMC, SMA has successfully
organized the first Asia Pacific Malayalee Conference
in Singapore in 2004.The main objective of this conference
was to facilitate networking among the Malayalees in
the region and also to explore the possibility of holding
the World Malayalee Convention in Singapore in 2006.
The publication of the first Directory of Singapore
Malayalees in 2004 was another milestone in the history
SMA has played pivotal role in introducing Malayalam Channel Asianet in Singapore.
National Arts Council (NAC) has recognized SMA’s efforts
in promoting Malayalee arts and culture in Singapore.
NAC awarded project grants to two Malayalam dramas produced
by SMA in 2003 and 2004.
SMA should not be seen as a ‘seasonal’ organization
that wakes up during the Onam season, performs some
‘stunts’ and goes back to its ‘doldrums’
after that. It must be active throughout and adopt an
extrovert and global approach. Only then the association
will be respected as a credible force in the global
44 Race Course Road
Tel: 6293 9195
Fax: 6392 8009
1998-2006 Singapore Malayalee Association.
Design : Rajaneesh