Monday, February 11, 2008



The three Rotary clubs of e-Club of Singapore, Johore Centennial and Bandar Utama met at the lovely Jungle Retreat center of GraceHill Orchard Lodge (GOL) in Berjaya Hills in Bukit Tinggi from 19-20 January 2008 to sign Sister Club Agreements with each other

In Rotary terms, signing a sister club agreement means agreeing to work together on common projects, agreeing to have great fellowship together in the years to come and agreeing to share benefits and benevolence with each other.

The birth of this friendship is particularly special as it signifies a bond that was started some 10 years ago. At the Joint District Conference in Kota Kinabalu almost 10 years ago, a group of Johore Rotarians met up with some from the Rotary club of Kota Kinabalu. Ong Hock Siew from the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu took this group out to the islands and from that simple start, Ong became good friends with Rotarians Jimmy, Tai Joo and Caroline Hong among others.

A few years later, Caroline wanted to climb Mount Kinabalu and was taken up the mountain by Hock Siew together with others. They kept in touch and from that simple connection, Ong got to know PP Fancie who then got to know about Ong's involvement with the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). Ong was invited to speak at RYLA in 2005 and the rest they say is history.

Ong spoke at the RYLA in Kota Tinggi in 2005 and then at the subsequent RYLA in Sedili, Johore. It was there at the last RYLA that the Rotarians led by Ban Seng, Susan, Fancie, Nelson, etc suggested having sister club relations between the 3 clubs. It was a simple yet auspicious start as agreement was quickly made.

How true it is that big achievements are often derived from small starts. There was excitement in the air as plans were made for the sister club signing. The choice of the location was made and President Roland of RCBU agreed to help get the ball rolling. With Ong's offer of free accommodation at his Holiday center (GOL) in Berjaya Hills, the frame was cast.

Despite an old ‘slow-coach’ bus that took the 31 Participants from Johore to Bukit Tinggi in a steady but slow speed, they arrived just in time for a late lunch. The poor Rotarians and Roteractors from RCBU waited about 2 hours at the 126 Restaurant. Still, the fellowship was fantastic as Ong made the introductions.

What was so interesting was the high number of "Suki nang" (Hainanese). Their greetings were so loud that the next few tables stopped to stare. But the "Suki nangs" hardly bothered. Carol was heard to remark, "The Sukis are taking over the Rotary clubs. Ong then conveniently claimed himself as a Suki and he was accepted because he could scold in Suki quite well...
After the Suki introductions were over, the rest got to know each other. Then it was another 35 minute drive up the hills to GOL. Unfortunately Ong who was directing the bus got so taken up in the conversation they overshot the entrance to GOL. There was some back-tracking and soon, the guests were checked in.

The briefing was a short one and soon, Ong got everyone to gather around pool side. One by one, he got all of them to jump from the 8 feet platform and what fun it was. The great thing was the jump by President Edmund of eClub. He did it after much persuasion. The kids got into the act as well and many of them jumped. President Henry Chin’s family had a good time trying the dives and even his sweet Ann, Rosaline got into the act. Rotarian KC Foo of RCBU did a front somersault to impress his wife and the fun and gaiety was great. Nobody wanted it to end. Some tried the back somersault under Ong's instruction and it ended with everyone having a great time.

Soon dinner was served from the 126 Restaurant and the food was sumptuous. There was great fellowship as the different Rotarians from the different clubs made new friends. Ee Teik from RCBU rallied the Sukis together and they had fun sharing about their Suki origins.

Then the big moment came. It was time for the signing of the sister club arrangements. The banners were hoisted and the different seating arrangements made. After the speeches from the 3 Presidents and ADG Shirin of District 3310 and DGSR Andy of District 3300, the signing was carried out. It was a great moment and one that will bring three sets of people into a time of friendship that will cover probably many years.

The 3 clubs formally became sister clubs. Ong took over after that and the singing started. It went on and on and old memories all came rushing back as one oldie song followed another. The "Youngs ones", "Que sera sera" and "Those were the days..." were sung with gusto. Everyone let their hair down (some had very little hair left to let down but still they did) and there was great revelry. For many who were there, it brought back more than just mere memories. They had the chance to re-live their good times in the past. President Henry Chin of Johore Centennial was seen explaining to his daughters about the heritage of the songs sung. We all had our moments and this will be a moment where the 3 clubs will talk about long after......

The second day saw the Rotarians encounter leeches and the jungles as they made their way to the waterfall. They had a great time together and such revelry had to end too fast. Soon, it was back to the lodge and then lunch came. The friendships that were established lingered long into the afternoon. As the bags were piled into the vehicles for transshipment to the bus, promises were made to have the next event soon enough. As the Rotarians with their family and friends bade each other goodbye, each knew that such moments are to be savored and kept in the memory so that it can be there to strengthen us and make us better…

Farewell until the next time…..

Thursday, February 7, 2008

What a great outing

Hi Folks. This is just to get the blog going. The 3 sister clubs that came together in Berjaya Hills at the Gracehill Orchard Lodge had a great time. Just look at it as a group of oldies going back to the time when they were young, letting their hair down (or whatever is left of it).

Imagine some of the old guys jumping off an 8 feet platform thinking that they are still young. Picture President Edmund shivering in the cold waiting to jump and then actually jumping. What a breakthrough it was for him. Wait for the full report, OK?

Chow. I am in Singapore for 9 days teaching at an International Leadership program. I am having a great time here with Participants from 20 countries. Impacting and chaning lives is a privilege and we in the Rotary must always remember this..... Right on!! HS

Post your comments if you like. The pictures will be hoisted up soon enough.