Nightlife bigwigs form industry association

First official body since 2006 aims to engage on labour, licensing issues

Key players in the association: (From left) Mr Woo Tsung Chwen, a director of The Butter Factory Group; Mr Andrew Ing, chief operating officer of The Lo and Behold Group; Mr Clark Martin, owner of The Tembusu Group; Ms Tay Eu-Yen of The Butter Factor
Key players in the association: (From left) Mr Woo Tsung Chwen, a director of The Butter Factory Group; Mr Andrew Ing, chief operating officer of The Lo and Behold Group; Mr Clark Martin, owner of The Tembusu Group; Ms Tay Eu-Yen of The Butter Factory Group; Mr Benny Heng, general manager of Zouk Management; Mr Dennis Foo of St James Holdings, who is heading the SNBA; Mr Joseph Ong of the 1-Rochester Group; Ms Heather Seow of The Emerald Hill Group; Mr Wendell Wong, director at Drew and Napier and legal adviser to SNBA; Mr Edward Chia, co-founder of Timbre Group; Mr Joseph Moreira, secretariat manager of SNBA; and Mr Lee Wy-Man, head of operations and entertainment of The Neverland Group. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Singapore's multibillion-dollar nightlife industry finally has a new association to represent its players and their interests - the first of its kind since 2006.

Headed by nightlife honcho Dennis Foo, 60, the newly formed Singapore Nightlife Business Association (SNBA) brings together 10 industry veterans.

It aims to be an official body to coordinate the industry's input on relevant matters as well as the first port of call for consultation when regulatory bodies have any issues.

At the top of the association's to-do list is to engage the Ministry of Manpower on concessions for quotas in hiring foreign entertainers in nightclubs, and to propose changes to the licensing conditions for public entertainment outlets.

The association will be managed by a pro-tem committee with high-fliers who cover all sectors of the nightlife industry, including commercial dance clubs, bars and pubs, restaurant-bars, Thai discotheques and even Chinese hostess clubs.

The members include The Butter Factory's executive chairman Tay Eu-Yen; director of The Emerald Hill Group Heather Seow; Neverland Thai disco co-founder Kwek Kon Chun; director of the 1-Rochester Group Joseph Ong; and Mr Martinn Teng, owner of 51 Holdings, which manages Chinese hostess nightclubs Club De Zara and Club Macau.

The association's president Mr Foo, who is also the chief executive of public-listed nightlife group St James Holdings, told The Straits Times: "The industry hasn't had a representative body for a long time, and there's been a lot of changes, not just in the industry, but also in the nightlife landscape, which is more complex now."

A boom in the number of Thai discotheques, ultralounges, bespoke cocktail bars and restaurant-bars in recent years has made the nightlife scene more vibrant. But growth has also brought new challenges for operators in the business.

Mr Foo, who noted a "significant increase" in the number of clubs, bars and pubs in the past decade - he estimates there are more than 1,000 now - said some of the challenges would include dealing with manpower woes in finding entertainers and service staff as well as licensing issues.

Citing the recent move by the Singapore Police to shorten the liquor licensing hours in Clarke Quay as an example, Mr Foo said: "If we had been around earlier and been engaged by the authorities, we would have given some value-added input and, who knows, that might have changed the outcome."

The last time a similar association existed was in 1995, when the Association of Entertainment Organisations (AEO) was formed to represent the interests of the major dance clubs, KTV lounges and show promoters in Singapore. The AEO remained active for about 10 years, but had folded by 2006 due to the lack of people to run it.

An informal grouping of nightlife business operators called the Clubs And Pubs Industry Panel was also formed in the early 2000s but that, too, fizzled out after a few years.

Recognising that Singapore has become one of the top clubbing destinations in Asia in the past decade, the association also hopes to "take the nightlife industry to the next level" by improving the quality of entertainment and service across all sectors of the nightlife industry.

The Butter Factory's Ms Tay, 34, who is the association's vice- president, said: "We don't want to become just a complaint forum. We also want to help people, who may have misconceptions of what we do, understand the industry; and to make it more professional."

In the long term, Ms Tay said they aim to introduce a proper accreditation framework to weed out the "mala fide operators", and to roll out training and education programmes to improve service standards and attract more people to work in the nightlife industry.

Mr Ong, 41, the association's treasurer, said response from other players in the industry has "been quite good so far", and added that the association is hoping to get at least "90 per cent of the market" to sign up as members.

Nightlife business operators can register themselves with the SNBA online ( or call its hotline on 6631-8325.

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