Ee Hoe Hean Club



Located at 43 Bukit Pasoh Road,  Ee Hoe Hean Club is one of the oldest clubs for millionaires in Singapore. Founded in 1895, it was a social and business club where like-minded Chinese businessmen networked and exchanged ideas. The club became the headquarters of the anti-Japanese South Seas China Relief Fund Union from 1937 to 1942, when Tan Kah Kee was its chairman. In 1995, the National Heritage Board marked the club as a historic site.

History
Ee Hoe Hean Club was founded on 18 October 1895 by Lim Chwee Chian, Lim Ho Pan, Tan Cheng Seong, Lee Cheng Yan, Tan Luan Jin, Tan Meng Guan, Gan Eng Seng and Lim Boon Keng.1 It was exempted from registration under the Societies Ordinance 1889, and functioned as a social and business club.2


Originally located at 28 Duxton Hill, the club moved to 38 Club Street in 1911 before relocating to its present site at Bukit Pasoh Road in 1925.3 The members first rented the three-storey building before purchasing the property on 30 December 1927.4
            
For many years during the colonial period  till after World War II, the club was a meeting place for its members to discuss economic, social, cultural and political issues, such as raising funds for the local Chinese hospitals, the Republican revolution in China, anti-Japanese war, Singapore’s independence, and the establishment of Nanyang University.5

Political activities
In the early years, club members were actively involved in China’s political developments. Members such as Teo Eng Hock, Tan Chor Nam and Lim Nee Soon took part in Sun Yat Sen’s revolution to overthrow the Qing dynasty in 1911 as well as  the establishment of the Republic of China thereafter. When Sun and his Tongmenghui (Chinese Revolutionary League) representatives from China visited Singapore, Ee Hoe Hean Club became one of their meeting places.6

Between 1937 and 1942, the club served as the South Seas China Relief Fund Union’s headquarters. In 1938, 170 overseas Chinese representatives from the region met at the club to establish a regional body to coordinate regional relief work in support of China against invasion by the Japanese. As chairman of the South Seas China Relief Fund Union, Tan Kah Kee spent so much time in the Ee Hoe Hean Club’s office that he eventually moved in and lived at the club.7

The South Seas China Relief Fund Union was disbanded just before the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45), the Ee Hoe Hean Club’s building was used as a club by the Japanese military.8

When World War II ended, Ee Hoe Hean Club once again functioned as a club for social and business interactions. Its members became active in educational, community and philanthropic activities as well as championed citizenship rights.9

Following Singapore's independence in 1965, the club became a focal point where local Chinese businessmen socialises and forged ties. It also continued to play an active role in community services such as charity work and organising cultural talks for the public.10

Recent developments
On 18 October 1995, Ee Hoe Hean Club was marked as a historic site by the National Heritage Board. In 1999, the club building’s structure was damaged by the construction of the Mass Rapid Transit system’s Circle Line, which ran beneath the building. Cracks started to appear on the walls of the clubhouse, and the club building was declared unsafe in 2002. In collaboration with Tan Kah Kee Foundation, the club underwent a S$2.5-million reconstruction project in 2006 to preserve the century-old historic building.11

 
On 9 November 2008, the reconstructed clubhouse, with a new 2,000-square-feet (190 sq m) memorial hall to honour Tan Kah Kee and other early Chinese community leaders, was officially reopened by then Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam.12 Located on the ground floor, the new hall was named Xian Xian guan (The Pioneers’ Memorial Hall).13 It contains exhibits such as a wax figure of Tan Kah Kee, old photographs and documents, and interactive multimedia.14 The second floor houses an auditorium which the club uses to conduct lectures and talks for members of the public, and the third floor houses the social club.15

Membership
The club’s current list of honorary presidents and advisers include former Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo, chairman of the United Overseas Bank Wee Cho Yaw, president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chua Thian Poh, former nominated member of parliament Tay Beng Chuan, and managing director of City Developments Kwek Leng Joo, among others.16


Today, Ee Hoe Hean Club remains an all men’s club, and membership is by invitation only.17

Past and present chairmen18
19141923: Lim Chwee Chian (based on oral account as most of the club records were destroyed during the Japanese Occupation)

19231926: Tan Kah Kee
1927: Lim Nee Soon
19281930: Tan Kah Kee
19311932: Lim Nee Soon
19341935: Lee Choon Seng
19351947: Tan Kah Kee
19481963: Tan Lark Sye
19631965: Ko Teck Kin
19662001: Soon Peng Yam
20022007: Oei Hong Bie
2008–: Lim Chin Joo



Author

Jane Wee



References
1. 黄溢华 (主编). [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).] (1985). 《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊, 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club: 90th anniversary commemorative book, 1895–1985]. 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, p. 48. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
2. 周兆呈 (主编). [Zhou, Z. C. (Ed.).] (2008). 《世纪传承》[A century of legacy]. Singapore: 怡和轩俱乐部, pp. 48. 54. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.3951095957 SJC)
3. 黄溢华 (主编). [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).] (1985). 《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊, 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club: 90th anniversary commemorative book, 1895–1985]. 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, p. 48. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
4. 周兆呈 (主编). [Zhou, Z. C. (Ed.).] (2008). 《世纪传承》[A century of legacy]. Singapore: 怡和轩俱乐部, p. 91. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.3951095957 SJC)
5. 黄溢华 (主编). [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).] (1985). 《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊, 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club: 90th anniversary commemorative book, 1895–1985]. 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, pp. 40–41. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
6. 黄溢华 (主编). [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).] (1985). 《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊, 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club: 90th anniversary commemorative book, 1895–1985]. 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, p. 222. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
7. 黄溢华 (主编). [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).] (1985). 《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊, 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club: 90th anniversary commemorative book, 1895–1985]. 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, p. 40. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
8. 黄溢华 (主编). [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).] (1985). 《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊, 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club: 90th anniversary commemorative book, 1895–1985]. 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, pp. 40, 214. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX)
9. 周兆呈 (主编). [Zhou, Z. C. (Ed.).] (2008). 《世纪传承》[A century of legacy]. Singapore: 怡和轩俱乐部, p. 53. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.3951095957 SJC)
10. 周兆呈 (主编). [Zhou, Z. C. (Ed.).] (2008). 《世纪传承》[A century of legacy]. Singapore: 怡和轩俱乐部, pp. 103, 111. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.3951095957 SJC)
11. 周兆呈 (主编). [Zhou, Z. C. (Ed.).] (2008). 《世纪传承》[A century of legacy]. Singapore: 怡和轩俱乐部, p. 103. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.3951095957 SJC); Leong, W. K. (2008, October 19). Historic gentlemen’s club opens its doors. The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Leong, W. K. (2008, October 19). Historic gentlemen’s club opens its doors. The Straits Times, p. 26; Luo, S. (2008, November 10). ‘Hall of fame’ for pioneers of finance. The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. 周兆呈 (主编). [Zhou, Z. C. (Ed.).] (2008). 《世纪传承》[A century of legacy]. Singapore: 怡和轩俱乐部, p. 50. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.3951095957 SJC)
14. Leong, W. K. (2008, July 17). Hall to honour Chinese pioneers. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. 周兆呈 (主编). [Zhou, Z. C. (Ed.).] (2008). 《世纪传承》[A century of legacy]. Singapore: 怡和轩俱乐部, pp. 108. 111. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.3951095957 SJC)
16. Leong, W. K. (2008, October 19). Historic gentlemen’s club opens its doors. The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Leong, W. K. (2008, October 19). Historic gentlemen’s club opens its doors. The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. 黄溢华 (主编). [Huang, Y. H. (Ed.).] (1985). 《怡和轩九十周年纪念特刊, 1895–1985》[Ee Hoe Hean Club: 90th anniversary commemorative book, 1895–1985]. 新加坡: 大水牛出版机构, pp. 37, 199. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.25957 YHX); 周兆呈 (主编). [Zhou, Z. C. (Ed.).] (2008). 《世纪传承》[A century of legacy]. Singapore: 怡和轩俱乐部, pp. 48–50. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 369.3951095957 SJC)



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 






 

 

Subject
Chinese--Singapore--History
Ee Hoe Hean Club
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Organisations