Lack of clear answers at Jurong Country Club meeting

Jurong Country Club members are being asked to wait until an extraordinary general meeting in mid-July to get more definitive information on issues such as possible payouts.
Jurong Country Club members are being asked to wait until an extraordinary general meeting in mid-July to get more definitive information on issues such as possible payouts.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Session with committee over site acquisition disappoints members

NEARLY 500 Jurong Country Club (JCC) members walked away disappointed after an intense 2 1/2-hour meeting with the club's general committee on Tuesday failed to yield clear answers.

The members are being asked to wait until an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in mid-July to get more definitive information on issues such as possible payouts.

It was the first time the club had engaged with members since the Government announced on May 11 that the 67ha JCC site would be acquired to develop the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail terminus.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has said the club has to vacate the site by November next year.

At the meeting on Tuesday evening, held on the club's premises, many members wanted to know what payout they could expect from SLA, which said it would compensate the club "based on market value".

They were told by a panel chaired by president Bobby Wee that the club has appointed law firm Rajah and Tann and real estate firm Knight Frank to work out how to value the land.

"We don't know how our land and loss of use is going to be valued," said Mr Mike Liew, chairman of the marketing and communications committee. But he assured members they would have an answer at the EGM.

Mr Liew said the committee is also hoping to tell members the methodology and the value of submission of claims at the EGM.

It will also share proposals for the distribution of the compensation received.

Mr Liew added that the EGM would also be necessary to ratify the appointments of Rajah and Tann as legal advisers and Knight Frank as valuers, as there is a "high possibility that the expenditure here could reach half a million dollars". He also revealed that Aug 3 is the deadline for the submission of claims to SLA.

"This is a landmark case... This has never happened before. We are the first club to be acquired... so there has to be a lot of work to be done," Mr Liew told members.

"We will try to figure out the winding down timeline and the key actions leading to the November 2016 handing over of site."

Some members voiced their frustrations to the committee about having to rely on the media for updates about the acquisition.

Meanwhile members with debentures - a type of investment security attached to some memberships - wanted the club to assist them in redeeming their debentures by next year.

Aside from practical matters, some members got emotional when they spoke about the friendships they have built at the club over the decades.

One of them suggested that the existing golf facilities and equipment be sold before the handing over of the site, while another urged the committee to seek compensation above market value.

Mr Liew said the club has held several meetings to discuss the "possibility or desirability of JCC asking for an extension of time on the handing over of land".

A club spokesman told The Straits Times the club is working with the union to help its 112 staff members get jobs elsewhere.

"We will shrink our operations in time, but for now, business is as usual and we are still getting bookings for our function rooms. In fact, we will be hosting a wedding at our club this weekend."

The club has about 2,700 members and 60 per cent of them hold golf memberships while the rest are social members.

joycel@sph.com.sg