So the Integrated Resorts haven’t yet opened, but Singapore, right from the early days already had plenty of self-made millionaires, or the equivalent in those times.
Enter the Ee Hoe Hean Club. The club in Bukit Pasoh Road, in Chinatown, was the place names out of our history books hung out — for a smoke, a game of mahjong, a bit of networking. They included Tan Kah Kee, Lee Kong Chian, Gan Eng Seng and Lim Nee Soon, to name a few.
It was the all-original gentleman’s club. No girls allowed!
It was recently refurbished to mend the side walls, that had been damaged by nearby MRT works. When reopened in November, 2008, it featured a new Pioneer’s Memorial Hall on the first floor, and an open auditorium for lectures on the second floor.
The third floor continues to house the club that still functions today.
I had the opportunity to meet the two surviving children of the late Mr Tan Kah Kee. The wax statue is of their father. Very genial old uncles. 😉
The picture below shows the front room where philanthropist Tan Kah Kee virtually lived while raising money for war relief efforts during the war years. It obviously looks nothing like the cubicle he used to work in. The two sons said they would come to the club to meet with their father and to discuss important business or family issues with him. He was so busy he almost never went home nor left the club.
Another main feature of the club is its mahjong games.
The club supposedly invented the three-a-side mahjong game, because it was rather hard to wait for a fourth player to come along on some days. They also had the tables specially made by carpenters. A note of importance: there are NO four sided square mahjong tables to be found in the club at all.
A reliable source close to the club tells me that the winners often put some of their takings into a kitty. This goes to paying for the sweet potato porridge lunches that are still served here today.
Ee Hoe Hean Club
43, Bukit Pasoh Road
(near Outram Park MRT station)
Pioneers’ Memorial Hall
Curators do open the hall to tour or school groups, but by appointment only at the moment, due to labour constraints.