Singapore is very much the hub for Asia; there are so many people using it as a pit stop, and that really adds to the vibrancy. There are so many interesting individuals and ideas in Singapore – people driving businesses, starting NGOs, pursuing creative endeavours – but they’re all quite siloed. There’s very little cross-pollination and collaboration happening between these different groups.
At the same time, I’ve been blessed to have worked at the crossroads of many industries, and Straits Clan is a passion-led project to create a platform for transdisciplinary collaboration. Straits Clan is probably one of the most diverse clubs I’ve come across. We’re bringing together people who are curious, interesting and driving change; who want to grow and be inspired.
“There’s an increased emphasis on seeking out experiences over accumulating possessions…[and] I think the interest in members’ clubs is tied to that trend”
Moreover, across the board, there’s an increased emphasis on seeking out experiences over accumulating possessions. I think, in many ways, the interest in members’ clubs is tied to that trend, as they can provide encounters that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. We have lined up a schedule of inspirational speakers, performances, interactive experiences and so on.
We were inspired by the relevance that clan organisations had in Singapore’s early days. Back then, when we were an immigrant society, these groups brought people together. We were fortunate to find a stunning Art Deco building that sits on what used to be nicknamed “the Street of Clans”: Bukit Pasoh Road, on the edge of Chinatown. That stretch is where most of the old clan associations set up shop, and many still exist to this day.
Private members’ clubs are vastly different from traditional clubs. The earliest were country clubs built around money and facilities. And then you have the social clubs from the ’90s that were defined by industry. Both conjure up very homogenous environments; not necessarily composed of like-minded people, but literally those from the same background and social status.
These days, people are after a little more breadth rather than depth. During our parents’ generation, you were probably relatively defined by your career. Now, individuals are broader in their pursuits. We’ve got members who are corporate lawyers by day and poets by lunch; hedge fund managers who are art patrons; architects with a passion for politics. That plays to the community we’re trying to create.
– ILLUSTRATION BY STUART PATIENCE
This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine.