Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan elects new leadership, raises $1.4 million to fund court dispute with Ngee Ann Kongsi

(From left) Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan honorary secretary Woo Chee Chay, president Chua Kee Teang, lifetime honorary president and adviser George Quek, vice-president Chan Kian Kuan and director Toh Lim Mok at a press conference on Feb 24, 2019.
(From left) Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan honorary secretary Woo Chee Chay, president Chua Kee Teang, lifetime honorary president and adviser George Quek, vice-president Chan Kian Kuan and director Toh Lim Mok at a press conference on Feb 24, 2019.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan has elected a new leadership, with its incoming president revealing that it has raised $1.4 million from members to fund its court dispute with Ngee Ann Kongsi.

Entrepreneur Chan Kian Kuan, 68, who is the chief executive of chemicals manufacturing company Premier Structure, will take over on April 20 from the current president, Mr Chua Kee Teang.

Mr Chan, who is one of the eight vice-presidents currently, was among 35 elected members on the Huay Kuan's 45th board of directors, which has also co-opted another 14 members.

Mr Chua, 70, will continue to serve on the board as immediate previous president in an advisory role.

He has also been appointed as a lifetime honorary president in recognition of his contributions to the association, a title shared by former president George Quek, who co-founded BreadTalk.

Speaking at a media briefing on Sunday (March 10) about the election results that were finalised on Saturday, Mr Chan also revealed that some $1.4 million has been raised from members since a fund-raising effort began on Jan 24 over the Huay Kuan's court dispute with the Kongsi.

The figure is expected to continue to rise, he added.

The dispute between the two prominent associations in the Teochew community revolves around the redevelopment of the Teochew Building in Tank Road that has housed both since 1963.

The Kongsi served an originating summons on the Huay Kuan in December last year to move out so that the property can be redeveloped. The latter refused, citing its historical rights to the building.

 
 
 

The case will be heard in court on Thursday, with Senior Counsel Davinder Singh representing the Kongsi and Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng acting on behalf of the Huay Kuan.

Mr Chan said he could not comment in detail on the case as it is before the courts but added that the dispute will not affect the Huay Kuan's ongoing activities and outreach efforts.

"The 45th board of directors will continue the Huay Kuan's efforts to engage with younger Teochew Singaporeans and promote the Teochew language, culture and spirit. This agenda has not changed," said Mr Chan.

The Huay Kuan also intends to collaborate with other Teochew associations in the region, such as those in Malaysia and Hong Kong, to organise such activities, he said.

One of the seven incoming vice-presidents is Mr Teo Hark Piang, who at 41 is the youngest to be elected to the post in 20 years.

The average age of the 45th board is 53, down from 55 in 2013 when the 42nd board decided to make an effort to start electing younger members. The board serves a two-year term.

Mr Teo, executive director of gas company Union Energy, is currently serving as assistant treasurer.

As part of his duties, he will chair the organising committees for the Teochew Festival and the gala dinner for the Huay Kuan's 90th anniversary celebrations, both to be held in December this year.

The festival will feature activities aimed at encouraging the appreciation of Teochew language and culture among Singaporeans, including Teochew opera performances, Teochew cuisine and traditional handicraft.

"Our target for the festival is to attract more participants than we did previously," he said, adding that the festival attracted 150,000 people in 2016 and 100,000 in 2014 when it was first held.

The gala dinner will host 200 tables for about 2,000 guests from the Teochew community in commemoration of Singapore's bicentennial.

A spokesman for the Huay Kuan said members of Ngee Ann Kongsi will be invited to both the installation of the new board next month and the gala dinner in December.