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The Second Oldest Club In Malaysia Is In Taiping

 
The New Club or then known as “Perak Club” was founded in 1885 in Taiping. It is the second oldest club in the country after the Royal Selangor Club, which was established a year before the “Perak Club”. The club holds the second oldest golf course in Southeast Asia. Thus, it was the centre of social life for the colonial elites. According to A.E. Wooten, the club’s exsecretary and a businessman, a “social crisis” took place in 1890. The then British Resident of Perak decided to limit the membership of the club. Only higher ranking army officers and miners were allowed to be members of the club. This decision caused several senior members of the ‘Perak Club’ to resign and form a new club in 1892. The founders of the new club were Dr Shepherd, Lefroy, Mais, Gray and Aylesbury. The site of the main clubhouse was granted by Sultan Iskandar Shah, provided that “The New Club” name was retained. The original clubhouse, designed by G.A. Lefroy in 1893 consisted of a furnished reading room, a billiard room, a card room, a large dining room and five residential chambers.

“The New Club” was only open to government officials, planters, miners and expatriate businessmen. “The club was at one time the exclusive turf of the British until the late forties”, said Encik Mohd. Shafie, an excaddy master who had worked at the club in various capacities for nearly 60 years. Australian officers only gained access to the golf course, even then they were to take their drinks to the shed outside the club. As for locals, they were disallowed from becoming members. Unfortunately, the club’s activities were interrupted during the Second World War. The club reopened on November 20, 1945, under the administration of the 25th Indian Gymkhana Club with Major-General G.N. Wood, CBE, DSO, as its president. The military managed the club till December 13, 1947. Things began to change after H.L.H. Tate became the president on January 1, 1948. The impact of modernisation, spirit and force of nationalism changed the club’s nature. Taiping Charcoal King, Lim Huan Lye was the first Malaysian member in 1948 and in 1967, YBH Dato Seri Mohd. Razak bin Akram was elected as the first Malaysian President of the club. The main activity of the club was golf. The golf course was built within the Lake Gardens. In 1993, the Perak State Government decided to unveil the land on which the golf course was built. This marked the closure of the country’s first golf course. Although the golf course was closed down, it did not stop golfers from playing but at Taiping Golf and Country Club (TGCC), Bukit Jana. Ironically, Taiping’s only golf club, TGCC, is due to close in April 2019. Monthly competitions continue and the number of registered golfers stands at 130. Apart from golf, swimming is also another important activity of the club. A 25m, seven-lane swimming pool was built in 1993 just behind the club. Young swimmers took part in several national, state and inter-club swimming championships. The club today has two tennis courts which were opened in 2005. In 2000, an EGM was held and a decision to renovate the clubhouse was made but the heritage facade would remain unchanged. Today, about 99 per cent of the club members are Malaysians. It is a leading social institution and a focal point for many Taipingites. The membership today is in absolute contrast to the days of yore. It reflects a harmonious blending of our multi-communal country. While the food in the club’s restaurant is excellent, the fried tofu, inchi kabin (Nyonya fried chicken), prawn fritters and Thai fried rice are a must try.

If you are a drinking gentleman then The Bar and Beer Garden, located in the clubhouse, is a must visit. This famous quote is attributed to the bar:
(To All Who Imbibe Herein)
“This bar is dedicated to those Excellent Gentlemen who make Drinking a Pleasure who reach Contentment before Capacity and who, whatever they drink can take it and still Remain Gentlemen”

Chambers are now open to the public. During weekdays (Sunday-Thursday), it is RM85 + RM5.10 for service tax, while on weekends (Friday-Saturday), it is RM110 + RM6.60 service tax. During peak seasons, it is RM160 + RM9.60 service tax. The New Club is planning to build “The Golf Gallery” at the site where the old caddy shed and store were. The purpose of the gallery is to honour the “Perak Golf Club” as the first golf club in the country and the only Malaysian club that was affiliated to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in Scotland. Various Golf memorabilia, which the club has, will be on display at the gallery.

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