Club shows its 'Seletar Spirit' in new book

Top: The African Grey Crowned Crane, resident at Seletar Country Club since 2013. Above: Otters at the club, which is home to various species of flora and fauna. Seletar Country Club's effort to protect the environment while preserving its golf herit
Seletar Country Club’s effort to protect the environment while preserving its golf heritage is captured in The Seletar Spirit, a new coffee-table book. PHOTOS: SELETAR COUNTRY CLUB
Top: The African Grey Crowned Crane, resident at Seletar Country Club since 2013. Above: Otters at the club, which is home to various species of flora and fauna. Seletar Country Club's effort to protect the environment while preserving its golf herit
The African Grey Crowned Crane, resident at Seletar Country Club since 2013.PHOTOS: SELETAR COUNTRY CLUB
Top: The African Grey Crowned Crane, resident at Seletar Country Club since 2013. Above: Otters at the club, which is home to various species of flora and fauna. Seletar Country Club's effort to protect the environment while preserving its golf herit
Otters at the club, which is home to various species of flora and fauna.PHOTOS: SELETAR COUNTRY CLUB

Book traces Seletar Country Club's journey from former RAF airbase to current location

The Seletar Country Club is one of many golf clubs in Singapore. But it boasts two areas that few can compete with - the unique wetlands fringing the course and a water sports centre that taps Seletar's river waters and reservoir.

The club, which moved to its present site near the Lower Seletar Reservoir in 1995, has long nurtured the grounds with the ecosystem's balance in mind. "The golf course is now home to various species of flora and fauna, from freshwater and shore birds to critically endangered plants. This makes for both a pleasant environment for golfers and a functional one for migratory birds," said former club chairman Wong Hung Khim.

Golf course architect Chris Pitman said such features which "separate this golf course from others in Singapore undoubtedly (make for) the authentic country club flavour that abounds at every turn".

The club's effort to protect the environment while preserving its golf heritage - which was audited and certified under the United States- based Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Programme - is captured in a coffee-table book that will be launched today.

  • Rare photo from World War II

  • (From left) Group Captain Geoffrey Francis, Wing Commander McKay of Kent, Naval Lieutenant Commander R. A. Inskip and Japanese Commander T. Asano watching as Japanese Vice-Admiral Kogure signed the takeover document of RAF Seletar after the Japanese surrender in 1945.PHOTO: AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL

  • Singapore's occupation by the Japanese during the war from 1942 to 1945 has been documented in numerous photographs and records.

    Among others, the iconic picture of Japanese General Yamashita Tomoyuki, with clenched fist on the table, staring at his British counterpart Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival as he is about to surrender at the former Ford Motor factory in Bukit Timah in 1942, is writ large in memories of the war.

    But a little-known rare photo taken at RAF Seletar at the war's end, which surfaced from the Australian War Memorial archives, shows the flip side - the Japanese capitulation in 1945.

    The Japanese commanding officer of the base, Vice-Admiral Kogure, is seen signing the handover of the base to the British after the surrender in August 1945, a solemn historic moment published in The Seletar Spirit, a heritage book of the Seletar Country Club.

    Present at the scene were Group Captain Geoffrey Francis and Naval Lieutenant Commander R. A. Inskip, as well as Japanese Commander T. Asano.

    Another picture published in the book shows a ceremony where the RAF colours were hoisted at the airbase, with the Japanese former commander, among others , saluting the flag.

    The two pictures in the book are believed to be published locally for the first time.

    K.C. Vijayan

The Seletar Spirit, published by ST Press, traces the club's history from a humble 10-hole golf course in 1934 at the former RAF Seletar airbase to its present-day site, with an 18-hole course and country club amenities, in Seletar Club Road.

Among other things, the heritage book highlights the Seletar Water Sports Centre, which the club operates. Members of the public can also register to join events.

The Seletar Lapwing Sea Scout Troop is unique to scouting history for being the only club attached to a country club and open to all students. Traditionally, scout groups are formed in schools as part of the co-curricular programme.

"In pioneering a Sea Scout Troop, the club has enabled an outreach to those outside the school system as well, such as ITE (Institute of Technical Education) and polytechnic students," said the group's scout leader Tan Hua Chiow.

Said former chairman Khoo Teng Chye, who spearheaded the book project: "We are a club with heart, and it is the Seletar spirit that keeps this heart beating."

The club's interests and activities, such as fund raising for charities, have made it attractive from a corporate point of view.

Mr Wolfgang Huppenbauer, president and chief executive of Daimler South East Asia, chose to join Seletar instead of other clubs "because it is a family club, very much appreciated and cared for by members who are very proud of being members".

"What I really like is the diversity of the people, from management to all walks of life, which makes the club very interesting and very comfortable to be with," he added.

Sport Singapore chairman Richard Seow, who described it as one of the country's finest golf clubs, said its contributions to community activities such as fund raisers "underline the stewardship of the club's leaders and members as an important contributor" to sports development in Singapore.

"The courage to dream, passion and commitment underscore what has been achieved at the club."

ST Press general manager Susan Long said: "It is a privilege to publish a book on a club with such a long, storied history as Seletar Country Club, which predates even Singapore's independence.

"We enjoyed producing this heritage book, which tapped extensively into SPH's deep archive and editorial resources."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline 'Club shows its 'Seletar Spirit' in new book'. Print Edition | Subscribe