THE role played by the near century-old Negri Sembilan Chinese Recreation Club has led to the unearthing of top calibre sportspersons and it has not gone unnoticed. The state government has confirmed that it is extending the land lease the club sits on to another 99 years.
Indeed, the Seremban club received a huge boost when Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan reduced the land premium from RM2.8mil to a token RM150,000 following an appeal from the members.
Club president Ho Sueong Chun in turn said the state government’s gesture had spurred its members to work even harder to restore the glory of the club founded in 1916 by a group of English-educated Chinese folks.
“We do not have the words to express our gratitude to the state government. This means a lot to us,” he said at a high-tea reception held for Mohamad at the club recently.
The club was initially known as the Seremban United Chinese Association and took on its present moniker – the NSCRC – in 1933.
It was the premier badmintion destination in the state and hosted legends such as Indonesian Rudy Hartono and top Malaysian shuttlers Datuk Punch Gunalan, Datuk Eddy Choong and Tan Aik Huang.
The club’s football team was also a powerhouse once upon a time, with seven players in the Negri team that defeated Selangor in the 1948 Malaya Cup.
It was also home turf to many athletes who went on to represent the nation in several disciplines.
Although the club had many facilities, including a swimming pool, well-equipped gym, badminton and tennis courts, billiards and games rooms, its membership has fallen to 542 from about 800 five years ago.
This is mainly due to the opening of other similar establishments in the state.
Mohamad, in his speech, commended the club for its sporting excellence.
“When I was a teenager, I used to come all the way from Rantau to train at the adjacent Station Padang, which was then the main venue for Negri’s football matches.
“I was given RM2 as pocket money and I used to spend 80sen for a bottle of Magnolia chocolate, which I used to buy from a stall at NSCRC,” he reminisced.
Mohamad, who then represented the NS Malays in football, said NSCRC was still a sporting institution, while the Station Padang had been developed and turned into a shopping complex.
“That would not have happened if I was the MB then. That is why I agreed to extend the lease for this club and cut the premium to a mere token,” he said to much applause.
Mohamad said when the initial premium was calculated, it was based on RM20 per square foot when the actual rate was RM50psf.
“The state government is genuine in helping organisations to nurture the young and become useful citizens.
“It is my hope that the NSCRC will continue to uphold the principles it was set up for and we will continue to support you,” he said, adding that it was also important to get the young involved in sports as it helped strengthen unity.
Mohamad said his administration had also helped Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools by reducing the quit rent to a mere RM1.
“In fact, I also gave 1.2ha of prime land to Chung Hwa High School, which needed more space to cater for its increased student population,” he said.
Membership to the NSCRC costs RM800 and members pay a monthly subscription of RM8. Life membership, which has remained unchanged for decades, is RM2,000.
The club is also open to non-Chinese, with access to all facilities except voting rights.