Ee Hoe Hean Club
Located at 43 Bukit Pasoh Road, Ee Hoe Hean Club is one of the oldest millionaires' clubs in Singapore. Founded in 1895, it was a social and business club where like-minded Chinese businessmen networked and exchanged ideas. It became the headquarters of the anti-Japanese South Seas China Relief Fund Union from 1937-1942 when Tan Kah Kee was the Chairman of the club. In 1995, the National Heritage Board of Singapore marked the club as a historic site.
The club was founded in 1895 by Lim Chwee Chian, Lim Ho Puah, Tan Cheng Siong, Lee Cheng Yan, Tan Jiak Kim, Gan Eng Seng and Lim Boon Keng. It was exempted from registration under the Societies Ordinance 1889 then, and functioned as a social and business club. Originally located on 28 Duxton Hill, it moved to 38 Club Street in 1911, before moving again to its present location at Bukit Pasoh Road in 1925. The members rented the three-storey high Ee Hoe Hean Club building before they bought the property on 30 December 1927.
For many years during the colonial period and also after World War II, the club was a meeting place for its members to discuss economic, social, cultural and political issues, such as the raising of funds for the the local Chinese hospitals, Republican Revolution in China, anti-Japanese war, Singapore's independence, and the establishment of the Nanyang University.
Chairmans of the Club
1914 - 1923 : Lim Chwee Chian (clubs records prior to 1914 were destroyed)
1923 - 1926, 1928 - 1930, 1935 - 1947 : Tan Kah Kee
1927, 1931 - 1932 : Lim Nee Soon
1934 - 1935 : Lee Choon Seng
1948 - 1963 : Tan Lark Sye
1963 - 1965 : Ko Teck Kin
1966 - 2001 : Soon Peng Yam
2002 - 2007 : Oei Hong Bie
2008 - Current : Lim Chin Joo
Members of the club were actively involved in the political development of China during the pre-independence era of Singapore. Members such as Teo Eng Hock, Tan Chor Nam and Lim Nee Soon were participants in Sun Yat Sen's revolution to overthrow the Qing Dynasty in 1911, and the re-building of Republican China after that. When Sun and his other Tongmenghui (Chinese Revolutionary League) representatives from China visited Singapore, Ee Hoe Hean Club became one of their meeting places.
From 1937 to 1942, it was the headquarters of the South Seas China Relief Fund Union. In 1938, 170 overseas Chinese representatives from the region met here to establish a regional body to co-ordinate regional relief work to support China against Japanese invasion. As the chairman of the China Relief Fund Union, Tan Kah Kee spent so much time in Ee Hoe Hean office that he eventually moved to live there. Ee Hoe Hean was also used to host farewell ceremonies for Overseas Chinese volunteer drivers and mechanics in Southeast Asia who were deployed to carry out the dangerous tasks of transporting military supplies to China via the Burma Road.
The China Relief Fund Union was disbanded just before the British Surrender on 15 February 1942. During the Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1945, the Ee Hoe Hean building was used as a club for the Japanese military.
Ee Ho Hean functioned as a club for social and business interaction again when the war ended. Its members became active in the struggle for citizenship, voters' registration campaign and other educational, community and philanthropic activities. After Singapore's independence in 1965, it became a focal point where local Chinese businessmen socialised and forged ties, and it continues to play an active role in community services such as charity work and organising cultural talks for members of the public.
On 18 October 1995, the club was marked as a historic site by the National Heritage Board of Singapore. However, in 1999, the construction of the Mass Rapid Transit's Circle Line which went under the club, damaged its structure, and cracks started to appear on the walls of the clubhouse. In 2002, the club building was declared unsafe and in 2006, in collaboration with Tan Kah Kee Foundation, the club underwent a S$2.5 million reconstruction work to preserve the century-old historic building.
On 9 November 2008, the reconstructed clubhouse was officially reopened by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam with a new 2,000-square-foot (190 sqm) memorial hall to honour Tan Kah Kee and other early Chinese community leaders. The new hall, located on the club's ground floor, was named Xian Xian Guan (The Pioneers' Memorial Hall) and it contains exhibits such as a wax figure of Tan Kah Kee, old photographs and documents, and interactive multimedia. The second floor houses an auditorium which the club uses to organise lectures and talks for members of the public, and the third floor houses the social club.
The clubs current list of honorary presidents and advisers include Foreign Minister George Yeo, United Overseas Bank chairman Wee Cho Yaw, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Chua Thian Poh, former Nominated Member of Parliament Tay Beng Chuan and City Developments managing director Kwek Leng Joo, among others.
Throughout history, Ee Hoe Hean remained an all men's club and membership is by invitation only.
Club "nerve centre of reform'. (1995, October 5). The Straits Times. Retrieved March 10, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Huang, Y. H. (Ed.). (1986). Yi he xuan jiu shi zhou nian ji nian te kan 1895-1985 [Ee Hoe Hean Club: 90th anniversary commemorative book, 1895-1985]. Singapore: Da shui niu chu ban ji gou.
(Call no.: RSING Chinese 369.25957 YHX)
Leong W. K. (2008, October 19). Historic gentlemen's club opens its doors. The Straits Times. Retrieved May 10, 2009, from Factiva database.
Luo, S. . (2008, November 10). 'Hall of fame' for pioneers of finance. The Straits Times. Retrieved May 10, 2009, from Factiva database.
Uma Devi, G., et al. (2002). Singapore's 100 historic places (pp. 68-69). Singapore: Archipelago Press in association with National Heritage Board.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN -[HIS])
Zhou, Z. C. (Ed.). (2008). Shi ji chuan cheng [A Century of Legacy]. Singapore: Yi he xuan ju le bu, 2008.
(Call no.: RSING Chinese 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.