|Rotary in Singapore|
A meeting between two men – an American and a Briton – brought Rotary to Singapore. In 1930, Rotarian James Davidson, Honorary General Commissioner of Rotary International, travelled to Singapore specifically to meet with Sir John Scott, the Chief Secretary of the British colonial government in Singapore.
As a result of this meeting, 75 civic-minded people representing 16 different nationalities met at the Raffles Hotel and founded the Rotary Club of Singapore later in the same year with Sir Roland Braddell as its first president. Members believed they were unique because of the many nationalities represented in the first club: English, Irish, Scottish, Danish, Swiss, Japanese, Dutch, Arab, French, Chinese, German, Malay, American, Indian, Australian – all working together and basking in fellowship.
Soon after the Rotary club was established, its directors felt its membership should reflect a real cross – section of the community. This was vital if the aim was to foster racial understanding of goodwill – the foundation for true international peace.
The director went, on a resolution, to the Central Office in Chicago, Illinois, USA, requesting that classification be filled on a racial basis. They also asked that Eurasians be admitted as a racial group. Rotary International gave its approval and membership in the Singapore club quickly rose to 24 ethnic groups, earning it the distinction of being the most multi – racial Rotary Club in the world.
About a decade later, Rotary International decided that the one classification, one-member rule, which previously had applied to other clubs in the Rotary world, was applied in Singapore as well.
After the Japanese occupation of Singapore, the island was in a state of deprivation, with thousands suffering from malnutrition and disease and a shortage of medicine and medical services. Many villagers had contracted tuberculosis and were unaware of the fact. This spurred Rotarians to sponsor a major project: the establishment of the first tuberculosis clinic in Singapore. With government assistance, and strenuous efforts on the part of all Rotarians, Singapore’s Rotary Tuberculosis Clinic was opened in 1949.
It soon became evident that tuberculosis was one of the worst health hazards in Singapore and that the medical facilities available were clearly inadequate. The Rotary TB Clinic was unable to cope with the number of cases it received. More clinics were needed. So, in typical Rotary fashion, a group of ten Rotarians formed the Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association (SATA) a charitable organization that raised funds to build two more clinics.
At the time when the Singapore club was founded, there were no Rotary districts as such in the region. One was formed in 1935 and designated Rotary International District 80. This embraced all Rotary Clubs in Southeast Asia. Over the last 69 years, the district was reorganized several times and the clubs in Singapore were zoned in sequence under Districts 46, 330 and 3310 in 1948, 1957 and 1991 respectively. Today, Singapore is part of District 3310, which covers the southern Malaysia Peninsula, East Malaysia and Brunei.
The formation of the Rotary Club of Singapore West in 1960 gave the Republic its second club, and over the years as the city-state developed, other clubs came into being in the area. Today, Singapore Rotarians---many of them distinguished professionals and entrepreneurs---are active in civic and community welfare work.