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After 137 years, Singapore Recreation Club votes to grant female members same rights and privileges as males

SINGAPORE — After several failed attempts over the years, one of Singapore’s oldest social clubs has finally succeeded in passing a resolution to change its constitution to allow its female members to enjoy the same rights and privileges as their male counterparts.

Female members of the 137-year-old Singapore Recreation Club will soon be able to vote on club matters after a new resolution was passed on April 24, 2021 to grant them such rights.

Female members of the 137-year-old Singapore Recreation Club will soon be able to vote on club matters after a new resolution was passed on April 24, 2021 to grant them such rights.

  • The Singapore Recreation Club has passed a resolution to change its constitution
  • The change will allow new female members to obtain the same privileges as male members
  • It will also allow current “lady members” an option to convert their membership to obtain the same rights  
  • Amendments to the club’s rules and constitution will be tabled at its next general meeting
  • Members said the old constitution has no place in modern society, and this was a step in the right direction 

 

SINGAPORE — After several failed attempts over the years, one of Singapore’s oldest social clubs has finally succeeded in passing a resolution to change its constitution to allow its female members to enjoy the same rights and privileges as their male counterparts.

Under the old rules at the Singapore Recreation Club (SRC), women had no voting rights, could not be elected to the management committee and could not inherit the membership of a husband or male family member.

The outcome of the vote to grant equal rights to female members, which was announced by the SRC after its annual general meeting on Saturday (April 24), was that 74.48 per cent of voters agreed to the resolution.

The total number of votes cast was 944, with 432 cast in favour of the resolution and 148 against it. The remaining votes were spoilt (304), blank (seven) or abstained (53). Only men were allowed to vote. 

The necessary amendments to the club’s rules will be re-drafted together with other provisions of its constitutions and tabled at the next general meeting. 

The 137-year-old club, located beside the Padang along Connaught Drive, comprises some 7,370 active members, its latest annual report showed. 

Of these, there are about 4,241 voting members and 779 “lady members”, as they are termed in the club, who do not have voting rights. 

The resolution that was passed on Saturday and that was proposed by members Victor Loh and Krishnan Vijayan, sought for all new female members' applications to be given the same status as male membership applications, with all the attendant rights and privileges. 

It also sought to offer current female members the option to convert to the same ordinary membership that male members possess.

In a note to SRC’s members on the resolution, the proposers stated that since the club opened its doors to women in 1956, “no progress was made to give them the same rights and privileges as the male members”.

Mr Krishnan, who seconded the resolution, told TODAY on Saturday that he was glad it was finally passed, as other members have tried unsuccessfully to propose it in the past.

An SRC spokesperson said that similar attempts were made in the 1990s and in 2016, but they either did not meet the two-thirds majority required, or were insufficiently worded to address several areas of the club’s constitution.

Mr Krishnan said that the old constitution was outdated and discriminatory, and had no place in the 21st century.

“Women today are educated, they can bring value to the table and we want them to be part of the management committee. But they could not because they had no right to,” the 68-year-old retiree said.

“This is what we are looking for, diversity, in our management committee.” 

Some members who spoke to TODAY similarly welcomed the news. 

Mr Chris Tay, 55, said it was high time that the rules were changed and that every one, regardless of gender, should be given equal membership if they meet the relevant criteria. 

One 40-year-old female member, who only wanted to be known as Mrs Ng, said she was glad that women will soon be able to have a say in how the club can be improved. 

However, a civil servant in her 40s who holds a female membership, and who declined to be named, said that while the club’s constitution is moving with the times, she has not decided if she will convert her membership into a standard one, because she is uncertain of the costs involved.

She added that it would not make a difference to her as she has no intentions to vote on the club’s matters.

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Singapore Recreation Club women vote membership

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