A Brief History of SBFC

Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic is a charitable organisation set up by local Buddhists. Based on the Buddhist teachings of loving kindness and compassion, its objective is to provide free medical services to the sick and needy, so as to relieve their suffering on illness and to help them leading a healthier and happier life.

The Free Clinic was established in 1969. The idea of setting up a free clinic was mooted by the late Ven. Siong Khye (BBM). Ven. Seck Hong Choon, the late Abbot of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, responded enthusiastically by donating the entire income of a religious event held in 1966. The response of fellow Buddhists to the idea was overwhelming. A pro tem committee was soon formed. The name “Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic” was agreed, the constitutions drafted, and an application to the Registry of Societies for registration made. On 12 May 1969, the approval of its registration was granted and published in the Gazette No 46 on 16 May 1969.


Ven. Hong Choon Ven. Siong Khye (BBM)

On 14 September 1969, sponsors of the Free Clinic were invited among Buddhists. Poh Toh Temple at Yan Kit Road, Tanjong Pagar was approached to loan a corner on the second floor of the temple to accommodate the Free Clinic. The board of management was formed soon. It was most encouraging that on 17 September 1969, the Free Clinic was granted with status of an institution of public charity by the Income Tax Department to enjoy tax exemption for all donations to the Free Clinic.

1 November 1969 was a historical moment for Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic. On that day, it started free medical services for the public. Except for a token registration fee of $0.50, consultation and medicine were free of charge. On 22 November, Mr. Chan Chee Seng, then Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Social Affairs, officiated the opening of the Free Clinic. Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic was thus officially established.

In 1972, an HDB shop house at Block 77, #01-519 Indus Road Singapore 160077, was leased to set up the first Branch Clinic to meet a high demand for its services from the sick and poor. The new branch clinic commenced operation on 1 Dec. 1972 and was officially opened on 17 December 1972 by Mr. Chan Chee Seng as well.

In 1975, the land at 48 Geylang Lorong 23 was bought to construct the “Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic (SBFC) Building”. With the completion of the three and half stories building in 1979, the second Branch Clinic was established at its ground floor. The head office of the Free Clinic was then put up on the second floor, a meeting room on the third and a library on the fourth floor. On 9 December 1979, Mr. Ang Keong Lan BBM (L), a renowned banker, was the guest of honour for the opening ceremony of the Building.

In September 1983, the Free Clinic became a member of the National Council of Social Services.

In sync with other welfare organizations providing traditional Chinese medical services, its registration fee was raised to $1.00 effective January 1987.

Since January 1991, the Free Clinic waived all charges for elderly patients aged 60 years and above.

In 1992, at General Meeting for Sponsors, amendments to the Constitutions were passed to rename branch clinics to Main Branch, Tanjong Pagar Branch and Delta Branch. The management of the Clinic was further streamlined with the revised Constitutions.

To further expand its services, the Free Clinic leased the void deck at Block 348 #01-2096, Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 from HDB to set up its Ang Mo Kio Branch in 1992. The Branch commenced its operation on 1 September 1992 and was officially opened by Mrs. Wee Kim Wee, the then First Lady on 22 November.

At the 1994 General Meeting of Sponsors, the proposal to set up a Medical Assistance scheme was approved. Needy patients who require hospitalization or chronically sick could apply for financial assistance.

In 1994, Delta Branch had become over-crowded with patients and was relocated to Block 139, #01-1096, Tiong Bahru Road, Singapore 150139 (behind Redhill MRT station) and renamed as Redhill Branch. BGR George Yeo, then Minister for Information and the Arts and Minister for Health, officiated its opening on 6 November 1994.

After the relocation, the old premises of the Delta Branch at Indus Road were converted into a Rehabilitation Centre for the old, the chronic sick and patients requiring rehabilitative treatments. This specialized Centre facilitates provision of a better care to the patients and catering to their unique needs. It started operation on 18 July 1994. The premises of the Centre was purchased from HDB in November 1995.

In 1995, the Free Clinic set up its Jurong Branch at Block 320, Street 31, Jurong East to serve the public in the western area of the Island. It was officially opened on 26 November by Rear Admiral Teo Chee Hean, then acting Minister for Environment and Minister of State for Defence.

At the 1995 Annual General Meeting of Sponsors, Constitutions were amended to rename “Sponsor” as “member”. It was approved by the Registry of Societies for implementation in 1996.

Because of over-crowding and the development of Poh Toh Temple, the Tanjong Pagar Branch was relocated to No 44 Craig Road. A two and 1/2 storey preservation shop house acquired by the Free Clinic. The relocation took place on 21 April 1997. Dr. Ow Chin Hock, then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Mayor, Tanjong Pagar CDC, officiated its opening on 23 November.

As from January 1997, the Free Clinic became a member of the Health Endowment Fund under the Ministry of Health.

In 1998, a website was set up to disseminate activities of the Free Clinic to the public online. The inauguration of the website was declared by Dr. Ow Chin Hock. The address of our website is http://www.sbfc.org.sg.

In 2001, affected by the HDB re-development project for Redhill estate, the Redhill Branch was relocated to the void deck at #01-20, Block 131, Clarance Lane, Singapore 140131. Dr. Ow Chin Hock, then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Mayor, Tanjong Pagar CDC, officiated the opening of the new office on 25 November.

At the Annual General Meeting 2004, proposal to rebuild the SBFC Building at 48 Lorong 23 Geylang was approved. The justifications for the rebuilding were uneconomically high maintenance due to aging and low usable area inadequate for the operation and development needs of the Free Clinic in the 21 century. A Building Committee had been established to take charge of the construction of a new 7 level building at the existing site. The ministry of Health approval reconstruction fund at four million.

By 6 September 2005, the existing SBFC Building had served its historical purposes. The administrative office and the Headquarter were temporarily relocated to a rented shop house at No 14 Lorong 25 Geylang.

The erection of Clinic’s new building was completed in July 2007. It consists of a car park at the level 1, consultation rooms at levels 2 & 3, administration office on level 4, conference room at level 5, historic exhibition hall on 6th level and auditorium at level 7. The 8th level is a roof top. Both the spiritual ceremony and installation of Buddha’s sculpture took place on 31 July 2007.

The Headquarter finally commenced its operation as usual on 6 August 2007. Additional physicians and staff were engaged to accommodate better and wider range of services rendering to the community. Operation hours were extended accordingly as well.At 9 November 2008 the clinicinvited Community development, youth and sports Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan as Guest of Honor for the Opening ceremony.

Established Cancer Treatment Centre on 22 October 2012.

Year 2014, a newly Branch located at Sembawang region was opened at Blk 503A Canberra Link,than was started operating in 20th September. The opening ceremony held on 2 November 2014, our Guest of Honor was MND Minister Mr Khaw Boon Wan grace the opening ceremony.

The Rehabilitation Centre at Indus Road will complete its mission and officially close for good on 19 March 2016, ending its twenty years of services.

On 1 April 2016, another new clinic Dover Branch was setup at #01-388 Block 23 Dover Crescent Singapore 130023. Mr Lim Hng Kiang the Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) was invited as the Guest of Honor for officiating the opening ceremony on 18 December 2016.

Currently, Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic is operating at seven locations. They are situated at densely populated areas across the Island in Geylang West, Tanjong Pagar, Redhill, Ang Mo Kio, Jurong East, Sembawang and Dover Crescent to provide caring medical and rehabilitative services to patients.