n. A benevolent organization of popular origin found among overseas Chinese communities for individuals with the same surname.
Kongsi or "clan halls", are benevolent organizations of popular origin found among overseas Chinese communities for individuals with the same surname. This type of social practice arose, it is held, several centuries ago in China. The Chinese word Kongsi is used in modern Chinese to mean a commercial " company"; the modern term for such associations is 會館 (Pinyin hui guan, literally meaning "meeting hall").
The system of kongsi was utilized by Cantonese throughout the diaspora to overcome economic difficulty, social ostracism, and oppression. In today's Cantonese communities throughout the world, this approach has been adapted to the modern environment, including political and legal factors. The kongsi is similar to modern business partnerships, but also draws on a deeper spirit of cooperation and consideration of mutual welfare.
It has been stated by some that the development and thriving of Cantonese communities worldwide are the direct result of the kongsi concept. A vast number of Cantonese-run firms and businesses that were born as kongsi ended up as multinational conglomerates. In the Chinese spirit, derived in large part from Confucian ideals, these kongsi members or their descendants prefer not to boast so much of their wealth but to take pride in earning worldly and financial success through their work ethic and the combined efforts of many individuals devoted to group welfare.
In Borneo, mining kongsis united to form kongsi federations that functioned as self-governing states. Among the largest kongsi federations was the Lanfang Kongsi, which organised the mostly Hakka Chinese miners who had settled in western Borneo and established a republic, the Lanfang Republic, in what is now the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan.