How Gan clan became 'happening'

 How Gan clan became 'happening'
Profile picture of president of the Gan Clan Singapore, Dr Gan See Khem, one of the only three woman presidents of Chinese clan associations in Singapore.

SINGAPORE - First, the Gan Clan Association changed its name to simply Gan Clan Singapore.

Next came a new logo based on the Chinese character yan, or Gan - the surname of the community which the clan represents - to replace the old one showing a red rising sun.

Then, last year, the first two levels of its premises in Bukit Pasoh were leased out to a modern Western restaurant called The Clan. It has been a crowd-puller since, mainly for its beef served on hot stones.

And last month, after two years of preparation and spending more than $500,000, the 47-year-old clan group turned its third level into the Gan Heritage Centre to showcase the Gans' illustrious past, dating to the days of Confucius some 2,500 years ago in ancient China.

With nearly 800 members today, it is a medium-sized group among the 300 Chinese clan associations in Singapore. The biggest has nearly 8,000 members, and the smallest, not more than 50.

The most famous Gan in Singapore is perhaps 19th-century philanthropist Gan Eng Seng, who founded the school named after him in Telok Ayer Street in 1885. It is now in Henderson Road. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong is the clan's honorary adviser.

The clan has gained attention for its rejuvenation efforts since prominent businesswoman Gan See Khem, 67, became its first woman president three years ago.

The eldest daughter of its late founder and long-time president Gan Yue Cheng, she is a former Nominated MP and heads Health Management International, a health-care provider and hospital management consultancy group.

She has driven changes to modernise the association and make it more appealing to the young. Dr Gan is used to breaking new ground. She was the first woman to join the then University of Singapore's faculty of business administration as a lecturer after returning from Britain with a doctorate in 1977. She and fellow businesswoman Claire Chiang were the first two women to be elected to the executive council of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1997.

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