Two Teochew associations feud over Tank Road building
A feud is brewing in the Teochew community that is having its day in court.
Two major associations, the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan and Ngee Ann Kongsi, are at loggerheads over the Teochew Building on Tank Road, with the latter attempting to remove the former from the premises so that redevelopment can be carried out.
In a press conference yesterday, the Huay Kuan said it intends to counter a legal case by Ngee Ann Kongsi for it to leave the building, which has housed both associations since it was built in 1963.
It says it owns the land, which is being held in trust by Ngee Ann Kongsi.
Huay Kuan president Chua Kee Teang, 70, said Ngee Ann Kongsi served an originating summons in December last year that they leave the building.
"We've had a brotherly relationship serving the Teochew community here in Singapore, so this has saddened us," he said.
The Teochew community is the largest Chinese dialect group here after the Hokkiens.
The Huay Kuan was founded in 1929 and focuses on promoting Teochew culture through activities like community service and social welfare.
Ngee Ann Kongsi was formed in 1845 as a philanthropic foundation.
While the clans have crossed swords in the past, they have co-existed at the Teochew Building for the past 55 years.
Leaders from both organisations met multiple times to negotiate, but talks have now broken down.
When contacted, Ngee Ann Kongsi confirmed it filed the summons but declined to comment while the matter is before the Courts.
"(We) remain committed to want to resolve this matter amicably with (the Huay Kuan)," it said.
According to Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, the Huay Kuan said the decision for redevelopment was a unilateral move by Ngee Ann Kongsi, and it was not consulted, despite being the beneficiary of the land.
The Huay Kuan said it owns the land on which the building sits, and the land is under trust with Ngee Ann Kongsi.
Ngee Ann Kongsi reportedly also wants the Huay Kuan to start paying a "token rental", which the latter did not agree to, when it moves back in.
Legal proceedings are expected cost at least $2 million, and a "rescue fund" has been set up to raise legal fees.