ON COM­MON GROUND

A new breed of pri­vate clubs has mush­roomed in Sin­ga­pore, and they are speak­ing the lan­guage of the younger gen­er­a­tion.

The Peak (Malaysia) - - Contents - TEXT KOH YUEN LIN

A new breed of pri­vate clubs has mush­roomed in Sin­ga­pore, and they are speak­ing in the lan­guage of the younger gen­er­a­tion.

They were once per­ceived as ex­clu­sive en­claves for the up­per class, fea­tur­ing plush fa­cil­i­ties no other could of­fer, be it Olympic­sized pools or rolling golf­ing greens. They were also where one – and his younger gen­er­a­tion – could rub shoul­ders with the ‘right’ crowd and build re­la­tion­ships with lead­ers of in­dus­tries in a so­cial set­ting. In­deed, their value as a sta­tus sym­bol was what once gave mem­bers-only clubs the halo of a myth­i­cal promised land. Yet, if you even vaguely sug­gest that the pres­tige fac­tor is what com­pelled Ch­eryl Chong to join newly launched mem­bers’ club Straits Clan, the Co-Founder of The So­cial Co and Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Direc­tor of Sin­ga­pore-based crowd­fund­ing plat­form Fund­ed­here would protest in horror. “I am cer­tainly not one to join a club be­cause it is atas,” says Chong, 31. ( Atas trans­lates to ‘posh’ in Malay).

To a new gen­er­a­tion of movers and shakers, do­ing any­thing for the sake of pres­tige is prob­a­bly as gauche as dress­ing up in mono­grammed ap­parel from head to toe. New pri­vate mem­bers’ clubs such as Straits Clan and 1880 are thus tak­ing a very dif­fer­ent tack in at­tract­ing po­ten­tial mem­bers – and their method has slight in­die un­der­tones.

BUILD­ING A COM­MU­NITY

Apart from Straits Clan, Young Women’s Lead­er­ship Con­nec­tion (YWLC) – of which Chong is chair­per­son – is the only other ‘club’ she has joined. For the 10-year mem­ber of YWLC, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s ap­peal lies in its pur­pose of con­nect­ing women in busi­ness with es­tab­lished men­tors, cre­at­ing a strong com­mu­nity of women lead­ers. It is ex­actly this prom­ise of bring­ing to­gether a new com­mu­nity – and one with a pos­i­tive so­cial im­pact, to boot – that led Chong to join Straits Clan. “I at­tended one of its ini­tial events and found the speak­ers in­spir­ing and the con­tent – on top­ics such as fund­ing start-ups and new ways to reach out to the com­mu­nity for so­cial ini­tia­tives – rel­e­vant,” she says. Held in November last year, the event saw speak­ers such as Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foun­da­tion; moun­taineer David Lim; and Roger Egan, Co­Founder and CEO of Red­mart shar­ing in­sights on the themes of courage, con­tra­dic­tion and change.

“Ad­mit­tedly, there were many among the at­ten­dees whom I al­ready knew through the course of my job and so­cial work. But there were others whom I was un­fa­mil­iar with, so I look for­ward to con­nect­ing with them through club events, or even just through so­cial in­ter­ac­tion while us­ing the space,” Chong adds.

02 TIP­PLE HOUR The club’s mem­bers-only bar is lo­cated on the se­cond storey of the build­ing. 02

01 LO­CAL LINGO Cus­tom-made rat­tan fur­ni­ture and de­sign el­e­ments in­spired by 1970s Sin­ga­pore char­ac­terise Straits Clan. 01

03 HER­ITAGE RE­VIVAL Straits Clan oc­cu­pies the site of the for­mer New Ma­jes­tic ho­tel in Bukit Pa­soh Road. 03

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