History

Late 1960s – 1970s: The Formative Years
The idea for a guild for SP graduates was first mooted in 1961. However, it wasn’t until an address to SP students at Prince Edward Campus by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew did things start moving. “Why don’t you have a guild of graduates?” he asked.

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Prince Edward Campus at Prince Edward Rd in the '60s

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Chairman Lok Pak Chee

Following a discussion at a Union executive committee meeting, a Pro tem Committee was formed which was made up of Chairman Lok Pak Chee, Secretary Chan Pak Hong and Treasurer Wong Siew Cheng. Other members included Tan Toh Seng, Lim Kheng Hong, S. K. Bala, Lee Heng Guan, Yim Teck Lim, Teo Teck Soo and Ng Man Choong.

On 9 June 1971, SPGG was formally registered as a society by the Registry of Societies (ROS) with Ordinary Membership at $5 and Associate Membership at $10.

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Certificate from
Registry of Societies

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1st SPGG President
Wee Chwee Heng

The guild’s first annual general meeting was held on 30 July 1971 at 7pm at the Main Lecture Theatre. It was here that the first Executive Committee was elected, with 163 members. Committee members were as follows: President Wee Chwee Heng, Vice President Yim Teck Lim, Honorary General Secretary Sec Bob S P Fang, Assistant Honorary General Secretary Chan Pak Hong, Honorary Treasurer Peter Mui, Loke Pak Chee, Tan Cheng Siong, Teo Teck Soo, Wan Soon Yong and David Tan.

To celebrate the birth of SPGG, an inaugural dinner was held in April 1972 at the Mandarin Hotel with Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as the Guest of Honour.

1980s – A Decade of Consolidation
On 26 January 1980, the 2nd Annual General Meeting was held with the 2nd EXCO elected. S K Bala was the new president.

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2nd SPGG President S K Bala

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Prince Edward Lounge at EB7

The club was given a room on the 1st floor of the Staff Centre (EB7) on the hill, and then a bigger room on the ground floor. After much negotiation with the SP Administration, the library was opened to all graduates including Guild members. A membership recruitment drive followed with talks to graduands, talks at army camps, and circulars and appeals at the graduation ceremony.

On March 1981, the ROS approved an amendment to the constitution to offer Life Membership at the princely sum of $100. In November during the same year, the 3rd Annual General Meeting took place. Ang Poh Soon took over as president for three consecutive terms.

An annual Dinner & Dance was held at the Mandarin Hotel in conjunction with the SP Graduation Ball on 7 August 1982. 400 people were in attendance. A fashion show by Elsa Yeo and music by the McCoys Band were the highlights.

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3rd SPGG President
Ang Poh Soon

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Advisor Teh Yap Cheng

For the 81/82 term, 10 EXCO meetings were held. At one of the meetings, Advisor Teh Yap Cheng – who was the head of SP Student Affairs – suggested that the first step for the Guild was to increase its membership, with the long term aim of establishing a clubhouse.

On 24 August 1983, a Building Project Committee was set up. The committee decided on two phases:                                        

Phase 1A – Ground Floor: to construct a road leading to the new building, reception counter, bar and lounge, existing Games Room, lounge.

Phase 1B – Top Floor: multi-purpose room, billiards room, EXCO meeting room, staff office, conference/meeting room, video/tv room, indoor games room, gymnastic room, store rooms, mini library cum reading room.

Phase II Surroundings – 25m swimming pool, tennis court on levelled slope, squash courts, playground/hilltop park.

- Advertising consultancy Al Marh-Ad helped to refine the clubhouse proposal with the legal and other requirements for setting up a bar, and membership recruitment to sustain costs.  

- Visits to and comparisons with other clubs like NUSS, Cricket Club.
On 15 October 1983, a lunch meeting was held with Principal Khoo Kay Chai at the NUS Guild House to discuss the proposal for the guild house. Principal Khoo recognised the need for the Guild to have a place of its own to attract more members and advised them to make a big push for membership especially when SP’s 30th anniversary was approaching. He promised to present the proposal at the next SP Board Of Governors (BOG) meeting.

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Principal Khoo
(1st from left with Building Project Committee)

The proposal was tabled at the 27th BOG Meeting. The proposal requested for the lease of EB 7 for ten years, or to lease a piece of land to build a clubhouse, or to just continue with the use of the nine square meter room as a meeting place.

Unfortunately, the proposal was rejected. The Board doubted whether with its small dwindling membership of 36 the Guild could raise the funds needed to build and operate a clubhouse. The second request, asking for a piece of land was deemed “a doubtful starter” in the light of the Guild’s financial position.

SPGG could only carry on as before – the use of its meeting room at EB7.

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Dr Tay Eng Soon at the 30th Anniversary
Graduates’ Reunion Dinner

During the 30th Anniversary Graduates’ Reunion Dinner on 29 September 1984, EXCO attracted Final Year students to buy a one-year membership and attend the dinner, by just authorising the use of their “caution money” of $20. 3,300 alumni were in attendance, with Dr Tay Eng Soon, Minister of State for Education as the Guest of Honour.

On 28 November 1984, the Guild accepted SP’s offer of the use of the top half floor of Staff Centre as a clubhouse. The area was 300 sq meters. The ground floor would be used as a child care centre for the children of staff.

The first issue of technical journal Polytechniques ’84 was published on 8 December 1984.

President Ang Poh Soon wrote to the Straits Time Editor on 13 April 1985 to support many highly qualified school leavers who preferred the polytechnic route to get a good job and that they should not be looked upon as inferior engineers.  

A second letter in the Straits Times Forum Page on 7 May 1985 pointed out that the Full Technological Cert offered by City & Guilds which was an upgrading course for blue-collar workers should not be the equivalent of the Poly dip course which was taught in depth for a longer period of time.

For the first time, a new recruitment brochure on the new clubhouse design and 5,000 marketing letters were mailed to alumni in May 1985.

A sum of $150,000 was needed for the clubhouse’s fixtures and furniture. On 3 August 1985, EXCO decided to impose a new entrance fee of $500 and monthly subscription of $10 to 15 instead of imposing a building levy of $500.

During March 1986 Teh Yap Cheng started to look for new leaders by inviting some alumni to encourage them to stand for elections at next AGM. Among them were Jeffrey Lee Chin Hee and George Wong who went on to form SPIMA.

SPGG’s 6th AGM was held on 10 May 1986, which saw a handover from the 5th EXCO. Jeffrey Lee was elected the president. Outgoing president Ang Poh Soon acknowledged the need for new blood. With the $500,000 renovations promised by SP and increasing membership, the new clubhouse would be the best solution to build a closer rapport among the members eventually.

EXCO explored alternative sites like the hill slope overlooking the swimming pool. For the first time, one full-time staff, Cindy Chong, was employed. SP sports facilities were now open to members on Sundays and Fridays at certain hours.

A re-registration exercise on 1 Aug 1986 netted 93 Life and 80 Ordinary members. The Guild crest was aligned to SP’s, with the addition of a lighted bulb below it.

On September 1986, the first ever membership cards were produced.

The 7th Annual General Meeting was held on 18 October 1986. There was no AGM in 1985, so President Jeffrey Lee called for two AGMs in 1986. In the 5 months in office, the 6th EXCO had set up a secretariat with a full-time administrative assistant, computerised membership records and established a mechanism of subscription collection via the GIRO system. Activities such as sports, symposium, talks, and a dialogue with members were organised and communication with members via circular and newsletter was also re-vitalised.

The main task for the 7th EXCO was to establish a guild house, first mooted by the 5th EXCO, and to increase the variety of existing activities available to members.

A reunion dinner for 23 Accountancy graduates was organised by Honorary Adviser Teh Yap Cheng in Feb 1987. The quarterly Poly Guild News would now be known as Fission.

On 4 March 1988, The Business Times reported that SPGG would get a new clubhouse by August. “The colonial façade of Block 7, a remnant of the British legacy of the campus, will be retained.” Reporter Lily Fernandez interviewed Jeffrey who expected the membership to grow from 1,300 to 3,000.

Teh Yap Cheng ceased to be Honorary Advisor on 25 September 1988, with Ann Chiang appointed as new Honorary Advisor.

An annual D&D was held at the Shangri-La Hotel on 5 August 1989. Dr Tan Cheng Bock, MP for Ayer Rajah was invited.

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Honorary Advisor
Ann Chiang

1990s – A New Chapter of Growth

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PM Lee at the 1st Fundraising D&D

A Fundraising Dinner & Dance was held on 26 October 1991 with PM Lee as the Guest-of-Honour. Five days later, planning started for the new clubhouse to be sited along Dover Road, next to the SP Sports Complex.

On 17 July 1992, the 1st Fundraising Gold Tournament for the Clubhouse Development Fund was held. BOG Chairman Professor George Fong and Principal Khoo were in attendance. The event was covered by the Straits Times and Wanbao. Amount raised was $101,191.71.

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1st Fundraising Golf Tournament

Exactly one year later, the 2nd Fundraising Dinner & Dance was held at the Mandarin Ballroom with Guest-of-Honour George Yeo, Minister for Information and the Arts. A sum of $140,000 was raised.

In April 1995, URA approved the specifications for the clubhouse: land area – 0.72 ha, gross plot ratio – 1.3, building height – 4 storeys. In July, the 1st meeting of the Development Committee (DC) was held. Edmund Tie agreed to chair this committee which was a follow-up of the Development Advisory Committee. He nominated two consultants who had experience in operating clubs. They were David Fong and Guy Guillemard from CCA International.

During a meeting on 25 July 1995, Guy put forward that $30-40m was needed to create an economically viable club and that membership fee should be set at $10,000. There was no need to benchmark against NUSS, and no need to reach out to all alumni. EXCO did not agree to this. In August, he reiterated building a posh club, charging high fees to cater to the elite, and imposing a development charge on members. EXCO did not like this concept and decided to let members decide at the next AGM. If the members wanted this, instead of the original proposal of $10-12m or the cheaper $6.5m in building in stages, then the EXCO would promptly step down as they had no experience running such a posh club.

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Principal Khoo Kay Chai

On 22 Sep 1995, Volunteers’ Night was organised, honouring Principal Khoo who was retiring on 25th Sept. He was also invited to be Senior Advisor.

Through Dr Lim Boh Soon’s efforts, Mr Peter Chen, Senior Minister of State (Education) agreed to be the Patron in April 1997. Architectural plans were ready but not the land lease agreement between SP and the Land Office, nor the sub-licensor agreement between SP and SPGG.
SPGG’s Groundbreaking Ceremony was held on 6 May 1998. The piling started with a signal from Patron Peter Chen. The estimated cost of the project was $11 million.

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Patron Peter Chen at the Groundbreaking Ceremony

On 25 May 1998, SPGG applied for IPC status (Institution of Public Character) to collect tax-exempt donations for its clubhouse. Purpose was to promote the interest and development of SP by creating a meeting place for past and present students, facilitate the exchange of information and ideas on industrial technology.

In May 1999, Jeffrey Lee stepped down as president after 13 years. He accepted the post of vice president. Dr Lim Boh Soon became president.

During the 357th BOG meeting on 18 August 1999, an information paper was presented to BOG’s Administration & Development Committee to grant a larger loan of $2.5m to the Guild project. It was approved, with the condition that within 2 years after the first drawdown of SP’s loan, SPGG would have recruited at least 400 members.

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Patron Peter Chen giving his opening address
at the SP-SPGG Dinner

During the joint SP-SPGG dinner at the Mandarin on 8 October 1999, Jeffrey Lee announced the commencement of construction work. At a cost of $9m, this new clubhouse with sports facilities was slated to be ready in Oct 2000. Financial support of $2.5m loan came from SP, $5m loan from Keppel TatLee Finance and $3m from Guild’s own cash reserves. It was the only graduates’ society with a bowling alley.

The New Millennium: 2000 – 2010
On 10 October 2000, the Guild officially moved into the new clubhouse. Sharing in the joy were Peter Chen, Senior Minister of State (Education) and Patron of SPGG, President Dr Lim Boh Soon and Vice President Jeffrey Lee. A lion dance and Daiko drums were performed by SP students, with a press conference held at the Poolside.

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President Dr Lim Boh Soon ushering Patron Peter Chen
into the new clubhouse

In Jan 2001, SPGG started leasing out 10 small offices at its new Business Centre.

Dr Lim Boh Soon wrote to appoint Ann Chiang as Senior Advisor to SPGG on 16 April 2001. On the 20th, Strawberry & Spice restaurant officially opened, with GOH Principal Low.

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DPM Tony Tan at the Grand Opening

The Grand Opening of SPGG took place on 12 May 2001. It was declared open by Guest-of-Hour Tony Tan, DPM & Minister of Defence.

Mr Jimmy Lim was elected as President of the 24th EXCO at the AGM and continued to hold the post for three, two-year terms until 2011. He would later become President again at the 34th AGM in 2013.

During the 27th AM held on 27 Oct 2006, the resolution “Persons who are Life Members before the coming into force of this Constitution and who continue to be Life Members, shall with effect from 1 January 2008, not be required to pay any subscription” was adopted by a two-third majority vote with 39 members voting for and 18 voting against.
In 2008, Mr Lim Chin Aik was conferred the title of Honorary Member as a tribute to his many years of dedicated and distinguished service to SPGG.

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Mr Lim Chin Aik with President Jimmy Lim

Honorary Membership was conferred to Mr Peter Chen in 2009 for his illustrious contributions to the Guild as SPGG’s Patron and to polytechnic education when he was the Minister-in-charge of the Polytechnics and ITE.

In 2010, the guild conferred Honorary Membership to Dr Khoo Kay Chai for his sterling contributions to the Guild, both when he was the Principal of Singapore Polytechnic and Senior Advisor to the Guild (he still is).

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From left: Mr Tan Hang Cheong, Mr Low Wong Fook,
Dr Khoo Kay Chai, Mr Jimmy Lim

On 10 October 2010, SPGG held a celebration to mark its 10th Guildhouse Anniversary. Principal Mr Tan Hang Cheong and former principals Mr Low Wong Fook and Dr Khoo Kay Chai graced the occasion with their presence as Guests-of-Honour. The revitalised Vision of making SPGG a ‘Club of Distinction with activities of Diversity’ was unveiled by President Jimmy Lim.

Part of the plans to realise the club’s new vision included a massive renovation exercise. The 1st phase saw the Gentlemen and Ladies Spa & Wellness Centres being officially opened on 13 November 2012, following a half-a-million dollar renovation, exposing a stylish, modern, and eye-catching new décor.

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New Spa & Wellness Centre

There was unanimous support for Constitutional Amendments at SPGG’s 31st AGM to allow non-transferable memberships to become transferable.
Rebranding: 2011 – Present

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1st Vice President Mr Hoe Lye Soon with SM Goh Chok Tong

On 1 April 2011, SPGG held it’s first-ever dialogue session with Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on the topic, ‘What is Singapore’s Future?’

In 2012, a new signage was erected at SPGG’s entrance, sponsored by Singapore Polytechnic. The 2nd phase of renovation was underway, with the former Prince Edward Lounge being renamed to the Lustre Lounge under a new management as well as a revamp of the Poolside Café. Two Honorary Memberships were conferred to former SP Principals Low Wong Fook and Tan Hang Cheong.

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New signage at SPGG entrance

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Endowment Fund Chairman Mr Jimmy Lim presenting cheque
to SP Principal Mr Tan Choon Shian

The SPGG Endowment Fund was officially launched on 22 February 2013 during the guild’s annual LoHei celebration. The fund’s aim was to help SP students who had fallen through the cracks of existing bursary schemes. The event was graced by Patron Chan Soo Sen and SP Principal Tan Choon Shian. A cheque of $285,400 was presented to Mr Tan Choon Shian by Endowment Fund Chairman, Mr Jimmy Lim.

In partnership with the SP Entrepreneurs’ Club, SPGG hosted a dialogue on entrepreneurship with Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of Trade and Industry on 25 September 2013.
The Straits Times published an article on the SPGG Endowment Fund in its national day issue on 9 August 2013, announcing that the first batch of 25 SP students would be benefiting from the bursary.

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Article in the National Day issue of the Straits Times

On 22 March 2014, the newly launched Youth Chapter had its first event, Wine 101. The Chapter was launched with the aim of engaging the youth demographic and creating more events that they would be interested it.

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DPM Tharman at SPGG for dialogue on Singapore Restructuring

DPM Tharman was at SPGG on 3 June 2014 for a dialogue on ‘Singapore Restructuring: How do we ensure the competitive edge of Singaporeans and Businesses into 2020?’.