Making a historical connection in Clementi

The curious sight of an Englishman wandering around Clementi Town Centre and posing for photographs with signboards bearing the name of Clementi, with an entourage of reporters and grassroots officials in tow, might have turned some heads yesterday.

The visitor in question is Sir David Cecil Clementi, a grandson of Sir Cecil Clementi, the governor of the Straits Settlements from 1929 to 1934 and the governor of Hong Kong from 1925 to 1929.

Sir David, 66, chairman of World First, an international payments company headquartered in London, is in town on a two-day business trip. Yesterday, he took a tour of his namesake town led by MP for Jurong GRC Tan Wu Meng.

Clementi was named after his great-grand uncle, Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, who governed the Straits Settlements from 1887 to 1893. He is known for establishing the Societies Ordinance in 1889 to suppress Chinese secret societies, and for starting the Queen's Scholarships.

During the hour-long tour, Sir David visited the Clementi bus interchange, Clementi Mall, a four-room HDB flat and the Clementi Market and Food Centre.

He said: "I will be sending the pictures of me standing at the Clementi Market to my family immediately. We are all very proud of our links to Singapore, and it is a good reminder of our heritage and history.

"I feel a sense of pride at being able to visit the Clementi Market. There is nothing like this in London - no place that is called Clementi."

In fact, his 33-year-old son, Tom, spent six months in Singapore in 2009 when he was studying for his master's at Insead business school.

"He took the MRT train to Clementi town with his friends, and when the train announcer said 'Welcome to Clementi', they were all very impressed."

Sir David visits Singapore frequently, but his last visit to Clementi town was about 20 years ago.

"You have made great strides forward in the last 20 years... Good transport links, good shopping amenities, good social services. (It) is a very vibrant community."

This article was first published on Oct 13, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.