Uncle Seng, bartending icon
SINGAPORE - Within the hushed, wood-panelled interior of the venerable 148-year-old Tanglin Club in Stevens Road, you can find another quiet, upright institution - Mr Seng Lee Fong, who tends the bar of the Churchill Room fine dining restaurant.
Still going strong at the age of 86, the gentlemanly bartender, affectionately known as Uncle Seng, has worked at the club for about 52 years. Club members entering the bar greet this familiar face with a warm smile or a pat on his shoulder.
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Beverage manager Salim Amat, 53, says: "He's an icon. Members who have been absent for some time come back and they like to see Uncle Seng."
Mr Seng was born in Malaysia and first worked as a rubber tapper in a town near Malacca. At 23, he came to Singapore and started work at a bar called Singapore Bar in Bras Basah Road, where he learnt his skills from other bartenders.
He worked there for about 10 years before a friend asked him to join the Tanglin Club around 1961, when he was about 33.
Back then, he earned $175 a month. These days, he is on a part-time contract and earns about $1,400 a month. He works four to six days a week - depending on the needs of the club - from 11am to 3pm, and then from 7 to 11pm. He travels to and from his home in Toa Payoh by bus.
"I'm not tired, I'm very used to it already," he says in Mandarin.
His responsibilities at the club include making and serving drinks, stocktaking at the end of the work day and putting in orders for what is needed.