Raffles Country Club to make way for rail project: Members shocked by scale of acquisition

Members and staff at the Raffles Country Club were surprised by the announcement that site will be acquired for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail and Cross Island Line's western depot by July 2018
Raffles Country Club must hand over its land by July 31, 2018. The 143ha plot in Tuas will be used to house facilities including at-grade tracks for the high-speed rail link, as well as the Cross Island Line's western depot.
Raffles Country Club must hand over its land by July 31, 2018. The 143ha plot in Tuas will be used to house facilities including at-grade tracks for the high-speed rail link, as well as the Cross Island Line's western depot.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Among those affected by the acquisition are club employees including those at Fu Lin Men Chinese Restaurant and Fukuya Japanese Restaurant, owned by The Passion Group, which has about 50 staff in total at the club.
Among those affected by the acquisition are club employees including those at Fu Lin Men Chinese Restaurant and Fukuya Japanese Restaurant, owned by The Passion Group, which has about 50 staff in total at the club. ST PHOTO: NG HUIWEN

Many had expected only a portion of land to be affected; others express disappointment

Members of Raffles Country Club (RCC) had been bracing themselves for the Government to take some of their club's land, especially after the nearby Jurong Country Club was gazetted for acquisition in 2015.
 

Plans to renovate the club were put on hold and the management had asked the authorities about plans in the area for a few years.

But yesterday's announcement by the Government that it would acquire RCC still came as a shock to many because of the scale of the acquisition.

"I was expecting only a portion of the land to be used for this development... Do they really need so much land?" said Ms Maria Teo, a retiree in her 40s who plays golf at the club about four times a week.

The Land Transport Authority said it would need RCC's entire 143ha plot in Tuas to house facilities, including at-grade tracks for the 350km Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail, as well as the Cross Island Line's western depot.

DISAPPOINTED

It is a big disappointment. There won't be any more golf courses for us in the west.

MR T. C. TAN, 64, who paid about $90,000 to join the club more than 20 years ago.


LOSS OF SCENIC CLUB

It is such a pity to see one of the most scenic clubs in Singapore go. I love the views of nature here.

MR S. W. LEE, a 63-year-old retiree who has been a member for more than 20 years.


LOOKING ABROAD

It is a hard decision. Perhaps I will need to go over to Malaysia to play golf now.

RETIREE P. K. TAN, 64.

The site will also hold the tunnel portal leading to the underground tunnels that will take the high-speed rail to the Jurong East terminus, as well as crossover tracks and a siding facility to temporarily house trains near the border.

"It is a big disappointment. There won't be any more golf courses for us in the west," said Mr T.C. Tan, 64, who paid about $90,000 to join the club more than 20 years ago.

Said Mr S.W. Lee, a 63-year-old retiree who has been a member for more than 20 years: "It is such a pity to see one of the most scenic clubs in Singapore go. I love the views of nature here."

RCC, which has two 18-hole golf courses and about 2,600 members, will have to hand over the land by July 31 next year.

Members said they were waiting for compensation details before deciding on their next move. Some said they are now more cautious about buying golf memberships.

Ms Agnes Tay, a retiree in her 50s who has been a member for 17 years, said: "I was also a member of Jurong Country Club for about five years. Now I have no confidence to join another club."

Said 64-year-old retiree P.K. Tan: "It is a hard decision. Perhaps I will need to go over to Malaysia to play golf now."

The club's general committee members met yesterday afternoon to discuss the announcement but could not be contacted to provide details.

RCC general committee president Paul Singh, however, said before the meeting that he was "deeply disappointed", adding that the committee needed time to work out compensation details for members.

 

Also concerned about the acquisition were employees of the club.

Fu Lin Men Chinese Restaurant and Fukuya Japanese Restaurant, owned by The Passion Group, moved their operations from Jurong Country Club only about a year ago.

The group, which also runs the western LakeFront Restaurant and Pub on the first storey, has about 50 employees in total at the club.

Said the group's owner Tam Suk Ling: "I was not expecting this. Some of my staff were reallocated here from Jurong, and now, I will probably have to arrange for them to work at our other restaurants near Chinatown. The planning will be a headache."

Transview Golf shop manager Peter Soh said he had only recently transferred some stock from another outlet at Jurong Country Club to RCC, and he will now have a "second problem" when the shop has to vacate in the near future.

"I have three other staff working here too. I hope the club will help them get another job, maybe at another country club."

In a Facebook post yesterday, Attractions, Resorts and Entertainment Union executive secretary Desmond Choo said the union will work closely with the RCC management to help the affected workers.

This includes ensuring that the workers are fairly compensated if they are to be retrenched, and also providing job placement assistance and retraining to them.

•Additional reporting by Abigail Ng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'Members shocked by scale of acquisition'. Print Edition | Subscribe