History of the Temple

Its Establishment in Singapore
The Kew Ong Yah Temple(upper Serangoon Road) is the oldest temple in Singapore that is dedicated to the worship of the Nine Emperor Gods (九皇爷 or Jiuhuang Ye). Throughout its history, the temple has been popularly known as Kew Ong Yah temple among the Hokkien and Teochew communities....

According to anecdotal accounts and temple inscriptions, the founders of the Kew Ong Yah Temple invited the incense of the Nine Emperor Gods from Tow Boe Keong Kew Ong Tai Tay Temple (槟城香港巷九皇大帝庙) in Penang - an old temple that was established in 1842.

Soon, it became a custom for Chinese merchants who set foot on Penang to pray to the Nine Emperor Gods at the temple. Among them was Ong Choo Kee (王珠玑), a Chinese merchant from Nan’an county of Fujian province. Ong Choo Kee prayed for divine help at Tow Boe Keong during his business trip to Penang. He vowed that he would venerate the Nine Emperor Gods for the rest of his life if he was granted success in his business deals in Penang. When his prayers were answered, Ong Choo Kee acquired some incense from the temple and brought it to Singapore in 1902 (the 28th year of Qing Emperor Guangxu). He then proceeded to set up an altar for the Nine Emperor Gods in his residence at Lim Loh village of Hougang 4th Milestone. The altar was later relocated as a shrine to Boundary Road near Lorong Chuan.

This is an old photograph (undated) of the Hougang Tao Mu Temple that was found in the National Archives.

As the story of Ong Choo Kee’s success spread, the shrine saw an increase in the number of devotees, who were mainly Hokkiens and Teochews living in the surrounding area. Among them was Ong Chwee Tow (王水斗), a self-made pineapple tycoon from Zhao’an county of Fujian province. Ong Chwee Tow was not a pineapple tycoon right from the start. He used to work for Tan Kah Kee was a rickshaw rider, and later became a hawker. Throughout his hard years, he wanted to succeed, and throughout these years, he prayed to the Nine Emperor Gods. His fortune finally came during the First World War, when the pineapple price hiked. He built his fortune and decided that he should donate a land parcel at Hougang 5th Milestone for the construction of a proper temple to house the Nine Emperor Gods. The temple was named “Dou Mu Gong”, which literally means “Palace of the Dipper Mother”.

Mission and Vision

The Kew Ong Yah Temple Association seeks be the leading the temple in the region which promotes the teachings of Taoism and beliefs of the Nine Emperor Gods charitable deeds to serve and benefit the community at large.

To be the model temple in the region through cultural exchanges with other Nine Emperor Gods temples locally and abroad, propagating Taoism, to serve the citizens of Singapore regardless of race, language or religion through charitable deeds, to promote social cohesion in Singapore by promoting inter-faith and intra-faith understanding.

Management Committee