Raffles Country Club members reject $26m upgrading plan

SINGAPORE - Members of Raffles Country Club have roundly rejected a proposal to spend up to $26 million on upgrading one of its golf courses.

The measure was opposed by 65 per cent of the 405 valid votes cast at last Wednesday night's members-only meeting.

The club management had wanted to upgrade the Palm Course despite uncertainty over whether the Government would renew the lease. This still has 15 years and three months to run but there is a chance the Government could take the site back after the term ends in November 2028.

In the proposal details sent out to members ahead of the meeting, the club's general committee had said the course was in need of an overhaul and that the $26 million was a justifiable investment for the rest of its existing lease.

But the notice did not include the full contents of a letter sent by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) in May. This stated that lease extension talks will start before the end of the year.

A Straits Times report earlier this week on Tuesday said many members had not been aware of the upcoming discussion. They were unhappy about the lack of disclosure and questioned the timing of a vote to upgrade the course now, when the SLA has not handed down its decision on whether the lease would be extended for a further 30 years.

A member, who wanted to be known as Mr Lau, told The Straits Times: "They should be more transparent and give members all the facts since the overhaul will drain a huge portion of the club's reserves."

During Wednesday's two-hour meeting at the club, some members asked if the vote for the overhaul could be made after the SLA responds.

Member Dicky Goh told The Straits Times: "Some members wanted to find out the rationale behind the lack of disclosure."

Questions relating to this issue drew the loudest applause and cheers from the floor.

"Others suggested that the Palm Course be fully refurbished instead of undergoing a complete redesign, which will not be as costly," added Mr Goh.

Club president Simon Yuen could not be reached for comment last Wednesday night.

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