In 1969, Mr Chan Chee Kwan, an Organising Secretary of the People’s Association who was posted to the then Bukit Timah Community Centre, took the initiative to set up new programme to bring youth in the neighborhood together for activities beneficial to them. With his expertise and experience in scouting and outdoor adventurous activities, he pioneered the first Youth Leadership Course in Chinese for the adventurous youth. A proposal was put up to the People’s Association through the Management Committee and he successfully obtained the approval and blessing of the People’s Association. Thereafter, he worked very hard to implement the programme as a pilot project which was aimed at promoting youth leadership training for teenagers. His excellent experience in technical skills has won the support of many youth in the vicinity of the Community Centre. Many youth saw his potentials and they came forward to join the structured youth leadership training programme.
That was the first programme of its kind organised by non-uniformed organisations. He drew the help of some friends and went ahead to conduct adventurous programmes such as mountain climbing, expeditions to Mount Ophir in Malacca, Kota Kinaburu in Sabah, canoeing expeditions, knotting, camping and hiking in Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. Many indoor lectures were also conducted by prominent speakers on a wide variety of topics related to social, educational, economic and philosophy. Conference techniques, discussion leading, public speaking, report writing, newsletter publishing, presentation and communications techniques were also included in the programme.
There was no lack of social, sports and cultural activities to attract many youth who signed on and became members of the Youth Group. Many fully committed participants not only discovered their potentials, they also put in efforts to socialize with the purpose of forging friendship and teamwork. They were very helpful in charting out new direction with their concerted effort to engage more young people to join them. Mr Chan and the youth leaders sometimes had to go the extra mile to make things happened. They made extra effort to visit some parents to explain and convince them so that they would sign the indemnity forms to allow their teenage sons or daughters to participate in the many outdoor activities.
We remembered that in those years, there were no pager, fax machine, handphone, not to mention computer or smartphone. It was pretty difficult when communications were concerned. Surprisingly, they managed to get things done anyway.
Many members went their separate ways when they entered society to find new challenges as times went by. However, their friendship remained strong though there were lesser contacts due to heavy workloads and personal commitments in their lives.
In 2013, some members reconnect with their friends and held a gathering to reminisce. Successfully, the gathering provided an opportunity for members to exchange fond memories of their meaningful times spent together some decades ago. It was really an enriching experience that they reminisced and chatted in great happiness. We are glad to know that many of them are successful business entrepreneurs while others are successful in their respective careers. A few have become blissful grandparents. They all live happily in their own noble and respectful ways.
For those who had no idea of the timeline of history, I would like to share the following information and memories:
People’s Association and CCMC were formed in 1960.
Citizens Consultation Committee was formed in 1964.
PA Youth Subcommittee was formed in 1971 and the enlarged PA Youth Movement with 5 Regional Youth Councils and the Central Youth Council were formed in 1973.
Residents’ Committee was formed in 1977.