The stele was erected in 1925 to acknowledge the benefactors who donated towards the maintenance of the temple, including the repair works of the outdoor stage that was used for wayang (Chinese street opera) performances during festivals until it was demolished for the widening of Upper Serangoon Road in 1998. The names of the 16 benefactors who donated more than 10 dollars are inscribed on the stele. There is also a mention of the 50 benefactors who donated less than 10 dollars.

Wang Shuidou three thousand yuan Guo Jihuo Twenty Thousand Yuan Chen Xianjing One Thousand Yuan Chen Youtai Wu Baiyuan Wang Zhuji Seven Hundred Yuan Wang Jinfeng Lu Baiyuan Lin Jinqing seven hundred yuan Lin Jihua Wu Baiyuan Chen Xianxian two hundred yuan Lin Shiyuan Three Hundred Yuan Wang Wenmin Three Hundred Yuan Wang Rongtai two hundred yuan Wang Xihu One Hundred Yuan Wang Baoshu One Hundred Yuan Wang Wentian One Hundred Yuan

Wang Wen wow one hundred yuan Wang Wenhai One Hundred Yuan Wang Shuzhi One Hundred Yuan Source Aphid Wind Yibaiyuan Wang Fengji Yibai Yuan Alchemist best 200 yuan Chen Shiwang Yibai Yuan Bai Shi Lin Yi Bai Yuan Wang Chanying Yibaiyuan Hong Guangteng Yibai Yuan Liang Shiqiang Yibai Yuan Cai Shigou Yibai Yuan Zhou Ruqie Yibai Yuan Wu Zhongxin Yibai Yuan

[A total of 190 credits for those who donate less than one hundred yuan] Set in June in the Xinyou Year of the Republic of China, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-one years ago

The contents of the two steles also reflect the demographics of the time. On the first stele, in particular, the dialect groups of two benefactors were highlighted: Hainanese and Hakka. During the 19th century, the Chinese population in Singapore was segregated into five major dialect groups: Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese, and Hakka. Hougang was populated by the Hokkiens and Teochews, hence Hougang Tao Mu Temple was frequented by Hokkien and Teochew worshippers. It was relatively uncommon for the Hainanese and Hakkas to visit the temple, and even more so for them to donate to the temple.


“Doumu Gong” signage
Visitors are welcomed with the signage with the Chinese characters “Doumu Gong” (斗母宫) above the main entrance of the main temple. The simple wooden signage was presented to the temple by Guo Qingfang of Hui’an County in August 1941. Some scholars regard the wooden plaque as the oldest historical relic at the Kew Ong Yah Temple, based on the Chinese calendrical year “Xinsi Year” 辛巳年 denoted on the plaque, which corresponds to 1881 in the Gregorian calendar. However, according to a stone inscription at the Temple, the Temple was only built in 1921, nearly two decades after its founder Ong Choo Kee acquired some incense from the Penang temple and brought it to Singapore in 1902. One possibility could be that he may have brought in the “Xinsi Year” plaque from elsewhere, otherwise it was not likely that he would have dated it earlier than 1902. The next time the Chinese calendar year fell on the Xinsi Year would be 60 years after 1881, i.e. 1941. Looking at the history of the Temple, the possibility of the plaque being engraved in 1941 is much greater than in 1881, and no doubt more in line with historical reality.

Presented by devotee Liu Huiling in 1954 to thank the Gods.

Presented by disciple Yang Renquan during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival to praise the Gods for universal salvation.

The plaque from a Taiwanese temple

Presented to the Temple: Wishing you a long Spring, may the Dipper and stars meet your needs, may the Spirit of the Lady Mother shine on you, may bright lanterns illuminate the temple, may you be blessed with good luck, and may the gods be honored during the celebrations. From: The Kaohsiung City Cultural Institute of Taiwan, Republic of China Dean: Chen Yuan-jung, President: Tsai Wen October 16, 80th Year of the Republic of China (1991).

From the architectural structure and couplets in the Kew Ong Yah Temple, it seems likely that the worship of the Nine Emperor Gods in this temple was once closely linked to the secret societies that were established to overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming. The fact that devotees wear white shirts and white trousers during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival is seen as sign of mourning for the Hung Society leaders.

This couplet, which was presented by devotee Wan Zhigao and hung up on these pillars on an auspicious day in 1925, is a good example of the many artefacts that hint of ties to the Hung Society.

There is a total of ten 日 ‘sun’ and ten 月 ‘moon’, which can be interpreted as the dissected components of Ming ‘明’ of the Ming dynasty. This couplet seems to hint that the Nine Emperor Gods worshipped at Hougang Tao Mu Temple is neither the nine-star lords, nor the nine legendary ancient ancestors of the Huaxia people. Instead, the worship refers to a bonding among the brothers in the Hung Society. The same couplet is also found on the main altar, and above the main door.

This couplet reflects the meaning of opposing the Qing and restoring the Ming(反清复明)

Although the secret societies no longer exist in Singapore, worship of the Nine Emperor Gods continues, and under the new management, the Kew Ong Yah is seeing more worshippers than it ever had.

Other couplets in Kew Ong Yah Temple praise the power and mercifulness of Gods as the following one:

Notice Board

It seems strange though, for the Kew Ong Yah Temple as a Taoist temple to put up a notice board presented by a Buddhist organization. However, there was no record on this presentation, and the mystery remains unsolved.