Thong Chai Yee Say was established by a group of migrants from China in 1867. We now have a history of 145 years where we provide free medical consultation and herbal medicine to all people, irrespective of race, religion and status. The name "Thong Chai" was derived from the Chinese word "Tong"- "同", meaning "the same" -same or equal treatment for all "Ji"- "济", meaning "to help or relieve" the people. We started by renting a shop house at 31, Upper Pickering Street as its premises.
The Governor of the Straits Settlement then, Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, heard that Thong Chai was assisting the poor and relieving the sick, he praised the charitable organization for its welfare work for the community.
He exercised his right empowered under the Royal Land Ordiance enacted in 1886, and on behalf of Queen Victoria, granted a piece of land totaling 8380 sq ft at Lot 13349 of Kampong Malaka in Singapore (the old site of Thong Chai Yee Say, 3 Wayang Street to 67 New Market Street) to Thong Chai to build its own premises, so that the residents could get free Chinese medicine and treatment.
In 1892, the building was completed. On November 14, Sir Clementi officially announced the grant. The official opening was well attended by VIPs. On the same day, Thong Chai Yee Say was renamed Thong Chai Medical Institution.
From 1867 to 1929, Thong Chai adopted the General Managers Systems. There were 12 General Managers, 12 Assistant General Managers and 60 daily duty supervisors. At the end of every year, there would be a general managers meeting to elect reputable business proprietors- 6 each from the Hokkien and Cantonese groups, they formed the 12 member presidium. Every general manager must donate 100 yuan in great Dragon Silver Currency.
In 1960, the management began to plan for the demolition of its Wayang Street premises and to rebuild a bigger building. However, in 1973, the traditional Chinese architectural building was gazetted as one of the buildings under the Conservation Act. The sub-committee of the re-building of the new building then approached the URA to seek their assistance for a piece of land in order that a new building could be erected.
The sub-committee approached the Executive officer of the URA and was given an option to purchase a rebuilding site at Chin Swee Road for the new building. The committee decided to purchase this piece of land from the URA and started planning for the new building. With the generous donations from the public, the 10-storey Thong Chai Building was completed in 1975. The medical Institution moved into the new building in May 1976. It was officially opened by the Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew on 25th November of the same year, ushering a new era.
With the changing of the times, we have gone further into the field of chinese medicines. A library and a Herb's Display Centre, were set up.
Seminars and lectures were conducted to upgrade the knowledge and skills of practicing Chinese physicians by inviting well-known professors from China and other countries. In 1994, we provided scholarship for our physicians to China for further study. At present, we have 6 physicians awarded Doctor (PhD) Degree and 3 physicians awarded Degree in Chinese Medicine.
When they returned, we have taken another step into specialised treatments for cancers, women infertility, hypertension and diabetes, acupuncture, kidney problem patients therapy.
In 1996, our committee felt that major up-grading would be necessary. We installed electronic display of the queue number to provide orderly treatment for patients. We also embarked on a computerised system to facilitate faster and more efficient service to our patients. These have helped us reduce waiting time for the patients and at the same time our physicians were able to treat more patients, majority of whom are aged people. The computerised system would also keep good records for our patients.
Besides the treatment, the institution also propagates the virtue to respect the old and the elderly. Every year, we give hongbao to the poor and aged, so that they can enjoy a happy Chinese Lunar New Year.
Thong Chai Medical Institution is 145 years old and has given welfare generously without discrimination. It is proud of the fact that since its establishment, it has always maintained itself as a charitable organisation. Its services and activities have risen continuously, making a great contribution to our nation. We will continue to provide free medical consultation and free herbal medicine to all people irrespective of race, religion and status.