Mention the name ‘Philip Chan’ and Kowloon Club inevitably pops to mind for many, so synonymous is Mr Chan with the association.
Established in April 1990, the non-profit Kowloon Club helps its members, mainly immigrants from Hong Kong, to integrate into the Singapore society by organising cultural, recreational, educational and charitable activities. Since stepping into the role of its President in 2011, Mr Chan has swung into action, putting in place new initiatives. Today, the Club boasts a membership of 1,600 and its efforts in propagating the charity spirit and sharing of the Hong Kong culture have won recognition from Ministers, as well as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
SPD is privileged to have benefitted from the support of the Club since 2012, which has steadily grown from donations amounting to over $10,000 in 2012 to almost $120,000 last year. Not limiting his philanthropic tendencies to within the Club, Mr Chan also encouraged friends and well-wishers to make a donation to help people with disabilities through SPD when he celebrated his 51st birthday in 2015, generating some $16,000 in donations in the process.
55-year-old Mr Chan moved to Singapore from Hong Kong in 1990. Formerly involved in ship broking, he later switched to real estate agency. Now a Singapore citizen, Mr Chan and his Singapore-born wife have two sons.
SPD takes a moment to chat with this dynamic and indefatigable friend of people with disabilities.
1) Why did you decide to come to Singapore and make it your home?
I came to Singapore in 1990 because of job opportunities. Previously I was an employment pass holder but after meeting my wife, I decided to settle down here. I became a Singaporean in 1993.
2) What do you do in Singapore besides helming the Kowloon Club?
I am the Managing Director of property investment company Wen Way Investments Pte Ltd, a Singapore-incorporated company which I co-founded in 2012, as well as C&H Properties Pte Ltd, and Mutual Benefits Realty Pte Ltd, a real estate agency serving high net worth clients from China in their acquisition and investment in both high-end and mid-range properties in Singapore. I am also C&H Group’s CEO, and President of the Hong Kong Singapore Business Association, which aims to facilitate successful networking of the business communities between Singapore and Hong Kong.
3) What made you take on the role of President in Kowloon Club?
In 2011, Kowloon Club was facing a financial crisis and on the verge of closing down. Because of my love for the association, which was set up by Hong Kongers, I decided to take up the challenge and accepted the post as President and since then, have put in place a series of reforms and new activities.
4) How did you first get involved in doing charitable work?
I began doing charity work when I was in Hong Kong. I continued when I came to Singapore, and within Kowloon Club, started doing charity work from 2012.
5) What motivates you to keep doing what you do, both at work, in the charity scene and in the association?
I am a Christian and I have always believed that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I feel it is meaningful to help people who are in need.
As an “old” immigrant enjoying a new life in Singapore where there is a good government and environment, and being integrated fully with the local society, I feel we should do our part to help others so they can benefit as well.
The Club members are also touched by the support our Honorary Advisor Ms Sim Ann, who is so committed and helpful to her residence as Member of Parliament, gives to our charity work. We were further motivated when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong publicly acknowledged and recognised the Club’s contributions in charity and integration work in his 2012 National Day Rally speech.
6) How do you think Singapore has changed since you came in 1990? Do you see a difference in the immigrants’ mind set today compared to when you first came?
Singapore has become more successful and modern. The gross domestic product is even higher than Hong Kong’s now, unlike in the past.
Having immigrants was not an issue in Singapore last time but over the past 30 years, there are locals who probably developed the misconception that new immigrants compete with them for jobs and push up the property price, when in fact it is due to internationalisation and the side effects of having good economic growth. The Singapore Government is therefore putting in more resources to emphasise the importance of integration here and one of Kowloon Club’s role is to try to contribute to that.
To me, integration is NOT one way or one sided. Successful integration also needs understanding, acceptance and patience from the local majority for the new immigrants who are coming from different countries with different education backgrounds and culture.
7) What is your hope for the future?
I hope that Singaporeans can continue to accept new immigrants, and that new immigrants can integrate into the local society, and that together, we can build a harmonious and cohesive society. No matter how prosperous a country is, there would still be people who will lag behind and are disadvantaged for different reasons. But they are still part of our society and therefore it’s our obligation to take care of them as well.