New Clubhouse

View of the new JCSC clubhouse from across the pond
Last week I received a call from Johor Cultural and Sports Club [JCSC] Manager, M. Singaraveloo, better known as Veloo, inviting me over to their new clubhouse.  Since earthworks started in July 2011, the building construction of the new JCSC Town Club House at Jalan Larkin was in steady progress and is now 80% completed.  

I was keen to see it for myself but I passed that way recently and noticed that the access road was still not ready.  So I told Veloo that I would like to go but he cannot expect me to drive my car in!  He chuckled and assured me that there will be a 4WD vehicle to ferry me in.  All I needed to do was to park my car at the Shell station and hop into their vehicle. 

On Sept 30 the club members were at the site from 10.30am for their Annual General Meeting and I was to join them at 12 noon after the meeting.  It was a scorching day and by noon, the heat was merciless.  And when I parked at Shell, a 4WD jeep with its tyres liberally caked with red earth, was waiting. 

Artist's impression of the new JCSC Town Club House at Jalan Larkin
It took me on brief ride over squishy, clayey soil and we passed a “wall” of earth that kept the building hidden from view.  As soon as we rounded that slope – my eyes were riveted to the structure of that much anticipated new clubhouse!  Having seen the artist’s impression of the clubhouse, I figured that the entire structure was already in place, still bare in dull concrete but I could visualise how it would ultimately look to a backdrop of jungle and a natural pond. 

The clubhouse overlooks a natural pond
I climbed a short flight of stairs that I guessed, should take me into the future front lobby and looked out of the wall-less structure at the pond of placid waters fringed by secondary jungle.  Then I spotted the club members gathered on the ground level and wondered how I should get down there.

A few guys, who were also looking around nearby, probably thought I was daft because I was so taken up by the view that I did not notice a staircase behind me and kindly pointed it out to me.  So I picked my way carefully down the unpaved steps to join the members downstairs and my nose told me that the caterer was just about ready to serve lunch!  

Another view of the new clubhouse
My association with JCSC goes back a while and by now, many members are familiar with me – at least by reputation.  Some members are also with Rotary clubs so they were already acquainted with me.  When I stepped into the wall-less hall, several members welcomed me and very quickly, I was swallowed up among them.  As I watched them and listened to their lively banter, I could feel the pride of the members as they stood in the unfinished building, smelling the fragrance of fresh concrete dust and gulping swigs of beer from disposable tumblers.  I was pleased to witness such a significant occasion – the first club members’ meeting at the new clubhouse!

The club, formed in early 1920 was formerly known as the Johore Civil Service Club, and used to meet at their old clubhouse in Sri Gelam, a 4-acre lot at No. 623 Jalan Kolonel Wilson since 1930.  In the early years, members were mainly British from the upper echelons of the civil service with only a few Malayan senior officers among them.  The only non-civil servants allowed to join the club were British and European planters and estate managers. 

JCSC, the first sports club in Johor Baru, was an all-male bastion for sports and social gatherings and was the premier club in Johor up to the late 1960’s.  In 1983 this once all-male bastion was open to ladies, allowing families to dine in the restaurant and join social gatherings in the clubhouse. 

A final look at the former clubhouse at Sri Gelam
at its farewell gathering in April 2011
I glanced around and spotted only a handful of ladies among the men, and I guessed they were probably members’ wives.  I was plucked away from my reverie when one of the members pointed out that club president, Dr N. G. Baskaran, mentioned my name in his speech during the meeting!  Before I could be alarmed by it, he quickly explained that Dr Baskaran was expressing his gratitude for good media support on their club’s history and fund-raising activities and he was particularly grateful for my help. 

It was as if he heard his name because I suddenly heard the authoritative tone in Dr Baskaran’s voice as he approached and welcomed me.  I could hear the pride in his words as he showed me proof of how the funds raised were being used in the construction of their eagerly anticipated, resort-style Town Club House.  He said the modern clubhouse, designed with sports facilities for squash, badminton, tennis, swimming and a gymnasium, is estimated to cost a total of RM4.7 million. 

The new clubhouse will be open to members and non-members who can look forward to additional facilities in two restaurants, one bar, one karaoke lounge, swimming pools and indoor sports activities like table tennis, billiards and darts.  With a pond located adjacent to the clubhouse, there will also be boating facilities and fishing activities to enjoy.

After vacating its former clubhouse at Jalan Kolonel Wilson, Johor Menteri Besar Dato’ Abdul Ghani Othman and State government departments presented JCSC with a 2-acre piece of land to build their new clubhouse.  Club members worked hard to raise the sum of RM2.5 million through various fund-raising activities and over RM1 million was raised from the sale of Gold Life and Platinum Life memberships and the upgrading of membership by existing club members.  In Dec 2011, a RM1 million grant was provided by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Deputy Prime Minister and former Johor Menteri Besar, towards the construction of the new clubhouse.

Dr Baskaran said the club has been providing monthly architectural reports to the Johor Menteri Besar to keep him informed of the construction progress.  He said the Menteri Besar was also excited about the new clubhouse and had reassured Baskaran that a grant will be provided to help the club tide over the situation.  Member of Parliament for Pengkalan Rinting, Chia Song Cheng, who was also at the site, announced that the State Government will contribute the sum of RM10,000 towards the JCSC building fund. 

Dr Baskaran was glad that the work is progressing on track and the infrastructure is scheduled to be completed by Dec 31.  But he said they still needed RM1.5 million for road works, landscaping and furnishings. 

Club President, Dr Baskaran [4th from Right] with
Bernard Lim [next to him] at the religious ceremony
held at the site on 15 July 2011
While most members still have a sentimental attachment to their familiar former clubhouse at Jalan Kolonel Wilson, members who saw the work-in-progress at the site, were upbeat about the opening of the new clubhouse, scheduled in the first quarter of 2013. 

Bernard Lim, a club member, jogged my memory when he reminded me that the last time I was here, it was still a jungle!  I had a sudden flashback to that morning on 15 July 2011, where Veloo was waiting for me by the roadside and guided me to climb up a grassy slope to walk along a pipeline to a little clearing.  There I witnessed Dr Baskaran and a few committee members conduct a religious ceremony before the earthworks was due to start.  Looking back now, it was just 15 months since that auspicious date!

Last April, I was with the members bidding a fond farewell to their former clubhouse and here I was, with them again at the site of their new clubhouse.  It will be a while before construction will be completed but like the members, I’m also eagerly anticipating that day when it will be ready to officially open its doors.

The JCSC new clubhouse is fast taking shape and members can look forward to enjoying the facilities, its wide club affiliations as well as transferable life memberships.  Existing club members are encouraged to upgrade their membership into Gold Life and Platinum Life memberships and new members are welcome to join the club.  For more info and membership enquiries, Tel: 07 – 222 4442 and Fax: 07 – 222 4445.


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