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Dabu Hakka Building Groundbreaking Ceremony Press Release (English Translation)

English Translation of Press Release in Lianhe Zaobao on 10 April 2023

Screen grab of article published in Lianhe Zaobao

Screen grab of article published in Lianhe Zaobao


Press Release: Construction for Char Yong Association's 65 million dollars Ke Ju Building to commence, construction set to be completed by the end of 2024


The Dabu Hakka Building, which costs Char Yong Foundation $65 million dollars to build, is set to be completed by the end of 2024. It will provide the 165-year-old Char Yong (Dabu) Association with a new, visually appealing, and modern exterior while retaining the rich cultural heritage of the Hakka people. Located at No. 1, Geylang Lorong 18, the new building is set to become a new landmark in the Geylang area.


The groundbreaking ceremony for the Dabu Hakka Building took place last week, with Minister Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth and Minister of State for Trade and Industry, presiding over the event. Minister Low praised Char Yong Foundation for prudently passing down assets from its forefathers and for its forward-thinking in planning for the future of the association, as well as securing benefits for its members, making it an exemplary local clan association.


Minister Low Yen Ling joining Char Yong Council Members on stage for ceremonial proceedings of the Groundbreaking Ceremony.

Minister Low Yen Ling joining Char Yong Council Members on stage for ceremonial proceedings of the Groundbreaking Ceremony.

Image Credits: Char Yong (Dabu) Association Facebook


Mr Ivan Ho, Chairman of the Char Yong Foundation and Vice President of the Char Yong (Dabu) Association, told Lianhe Zaobao that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-changing global situation, along with many unforeseen factors, have led to a significant increase in the construction cost of the new building.


The total costs now exceeds the original budget by nearly $10 million, bringing the total cost to over $27 million. Including the cost of purchasing the land, the construction of this new building will require $65 million to build.


Despite the higher-than-expected cost, Mr Ivan Ho expressed confidence in the foundation's long-term goals and vision. The foundation is determined to go ahead with the construction plans and hope that the Dabu Hakka Building will be completed by the end of 2024.


This new building covers an area of nearly 17,000 square feet, seven-storeys tall, complete with a basement carpark. The design incorporates elements of environmental sustainability and state-of-the-art smart technology while integrating Hakka cultural elements.

Aside from creating an environment conducive for association activities, the Dabu Hakka Building will also have some of its floors leased out for commercial purposes to generate revenue for the association.


The first floor of the Dabu Hakka Building will be designated as a cultural museum, showcasing the cultural aspects of the Hakka people, particularly those from Dabu, and exhibiting the historical documents of the Char Yong (Dabu) Association.

The second floor will feature a spacious multi-purpose hall for hosting various large-scale events and will also be made available for rental to other associations for networking purposes.


Model of the winning design for ‘Ke Ju’ Building from PROSE Architects X WeCreate Studio

Model of the winning design for ‘Ke Ju’ Building from PROSE Architects X WeCreate Studio

Image Credits: Minister Low Yen Ling’s Facebook


According to Mr Ivan Ho, 'The Char Yong Foundation is the owner of the Dabu Hakka Building. After its completion, the foundation will enter into a long-term management agreement with the association, entrusting the management and operation of the building entirely to the Char Yang (Dabu) Association.'


Based on current plans, the association will retain 45% of the space for its own use, while allocating the remaining 55% for commercial purposes.


When Char Yong Foundation formulated its investment strategy ten years ago, its board of directors decided to permanently allocate half of the funds for long term investments.

They believed that doing so would help reduce the risks associated with financial investments, and more importantly, real estate investment has the potential for long-term growth and appreciation.


When Char Yong Association collaborated with a local bank years ago to jointly develop the land vacated by Qifa Primary school when the school shifted to their new premises, they built the Char Yang Garden, and received 36 condo units from this development project.

In 2007, Char Yong Garden was collectively sold, generating substantial earnings of $140 million for the association. Two-thirds of the proceeds went to the Char Yang Foundation, which was established in 1995, while the remaining money went to the association.


Currently, 70% of the association's investments are in real estate. Following the development of the Dabu Hakka Building, the foundation has also invested more than half of its funds on real estate, in accordance with the investment strategy put forth by its board of directors.


In August 2020, the Char Yong Foundation purchased the freehold site at Geylang Lorong 18. In December of the same year, the foundation engaged the Singapore Institute of Architects to organise the Char Yong Architectural Competition to invite design proposals for the ‘Ke Ju’ building.


The 2-stage competition attracted a total of 88 entries, with the entry submitted by PROSE Architect X WeCreate Studio successfully winning the hearts of the jury, which was formed by key figures of the Char Yong Association and Singapore Institute of Architects.


Project architect and designer, Trecia Lim, from WeCreate Studio explained that the traditional Hakka Tu Lou, or earthen building, a traditional fort-like communal Hakka residence, resembles the closed off structures of ancient castles.


However, the design concept proposed by the team for the Dabu Hakka Building is an open Hakka earthen building, welcoming Hakka people and their guests to get together, hence it’s mandarin name 'Ke Ju’ building.


WeCreate Studio founder, Trecia Lim, explaining the design principles of ‘Ke Ju’ building to Minister Low Yen Ling

WeCreate Studio founder, Trecia Lim, explaining the design principles of ‘Ke Ju’ building to Minister Low Yen Ling


This modern yet traditional building incorporates many elements of Hakka culture, especially the eye-catching traditional Hakka embroidery patterns on the aluminium sunshades of the building.


In addition, the outdoor terrace gardens will have various edible herbs planted in them. The unique design of the garden, resembling a birdcage, draws inspiration from the seeds of the plant, Mesona chinensis Bentham. It is used by the Hakkas people to make traditional dishes.



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