SINGAPORE - The Tanglin Club, split by the block resignation of its president and seven committee members, has drawn a record 22 candidates to contest the elections for a new slate of 11 office-bearers.
The top three posts will see straight fights between Singaporeans and foreigners in elections due next month, with one candidate, Mr Joseph Chew, promising to review the facilities, and enhance good governance and transparency if elected president.
His rival, British national Vincent Lam, has said the club, with almost 4,000 ordinary members, needs a younger man in charge to effect change.
Incumbent president Sim Yong Chan and the committee members resigned en bloc last month in the wake of a contentious vote by members against the outsourcing of the club's food and beverage outlets. It is understood the mass resignation is the first in the club's 149-year-old history. It led to the entire general committee being dissolved and fresh elections called for the remainder of the term until May.
Mr Chew, now retired, has served in senior positions in SIA, the then Singapore Tourist Promotion Board and Temasek Holdings, among others. He was also club president for two terms from 2009.
Mr Lam, an aircraft finance adviser, worked previously with Deloitte Consulting and StanChart Bank. He currently captains the club's tennis section.
Canadian national Henry Ling, the chief executive of outsourcing and Internet software firm i-Admin, is vying to be vice-president, as is Singaporean Robert Weiner, a director and general manager of a security company. Securities firm chief executive David Palmer, a Briton, and consultant Sadiq Zoeb, a Singaporean, are eyeing the treasurer's post.
The hustings come at a critical time for the club. An internal review recently recommended the membership ratio be changed so that no one nationality can have more than 58 per cent of the membership. In effect, this means the proportion of Singaporean members would be raised from the current 51 per cent.
Mr Sim said in last month's club newsletter that the key issue for the club was membership renewal, with the number of Singaporean memberships unchanged since July 2009.
The current ratio means there are about 1,500 Singaporeans on the waiting list to join the club compared with 120 non-Singaporeans as of November. Mr Sim said the average proportion of non-Singaporean members over the past decade has stood at about 43 per cent because of regular turnover. "It is important to understand the proposed change (to the ratio) does not disadvantage anybody," he added.
He also said more than half the club's members are over 60 years old. "On current trends, the club is fast becoming a geriatric enclave," said Mr Sim.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.