The Singapore Iron Works Merchant Association has been established for more than 3 decades.
Through the years under the good leadership, capable committees and commitment of its members have made it possible for the Association to reach its present status.
There were about 500 over Iron Merchant back in 1981.
Sad to say, there was a lack of interaction among these companies. Thus, the idea of organising an Association to provide room for networking was conceptualised.
It is hoped that the Association will bring forth sharing of skills, ideas and better co-operation to enhance productivity among fellow Iron Merchants.
Mr Soh Aik Siew
Our Founder, Mr Soh Aik Siew was able to gather the support of 11 enthusiasts to set up Singapore Iron Work Merchant Association with the Singapore Registry of Society. Their meeting ground was then at the premise of Siong Leng Musical Society. In the same year, Mr Soh was appointed as the First President of the Association in an impromptu meeting attended by sixty over Iron Merchants.
On 22 Dec. 1981, Singapore Iron Works Merchant Association was officially established with the approval from the Registry Society. A grand function was held on 3 Mar 1982 to celebrate the Association’s establishment as well as to sworn in the first committee.
The progress and development of the Association calls for the combine effort and enthusiasm of all Iron Merchants who are yet members could come forward to join the Association in its advancement.
新加坡铁厂商公会简介（1981 – 2016）
1981年12月22日，公会终于获准注册。公会在Ubi一带的 Jalan Melayu 找了一处设立会所。
A Brief History of the Singapore Iron Works Merchant Association (SIWMA) (1981-2016)
1. The Founding of SIWMA
In the year 1980, the late Mr Soh Aik Siew of Aik Yew Iron Works realised that those in the iron works business faced many problems. Back then, it was common for renovation companies to set up temporary stands at the void decks of newly built HDB flats to solicit business. Thereafter, depending on its nature, the work would be subcontracted to various contractors. This was a source of business for the iron works. The downside of this arrangement was that clients might fail to pay or even disappear, leaving behind an empty table at void deck of the flats. This left many iron works owners at their wits’ end. Hence, Mr Soh came up with the idea of setting up an iron works merchants association to safeguard the common interest of iron works owners.
On 22nd December 1981, the association was finally registered, and the office was located at Jalan Melayu in Ubi.
In the brief 35-year history of SIWMA, Mr Sik Hing is the only person to stay on in the executive committee.
Representing Hoe Hoe Engineering (Pte) Ltd, Mr Sik was involved in laying the foundation for the association, and witnessed its founding. Following that, he went through SIWMA’s ups and downs together with fellow members. Today, he remains passionate towards his duties and proactively participates in various SIWMA related activities and programmes.
Mr Sik recalled that during the term of the first executive committee, there were more than 100 members, a strong show of support from those within the industry indeed. Back then, a banquet would be held at the Mei Li Gong Theatre Night Club to commemorate SIWMA’s anniversary. The responses for the banquets were very encouraging, with 50-60 tables often required for the attendees.
Following that, times were more troubled as the association shifted premises often, and there wasn’t even a fixed location to hold the monthly meetings. Instead, such meetings were held at coffee shops, eateries, and even hawker centres etc.
2. Activities organised by SIWMA
Other than the annual Chinese New Year and Lo Hei gathering, as well as the anniversary dinner, SIWMA also organises activities such as tours to Malaysia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai etc, participating in the Guangzhou Trade Fair, study trips to countries such as Vietnam and Myanmar and visits to associations of a similar nature in Malaysia, etc. The association had also previously organised a free haircut service at old folks’ homes.
On top of all these, the association also organises talks on topics related to the iron works industry for its members.
Mr Sik carries out his duties at SIWMA whole-heartedly. He feels that in the Internet age, there is a pressing need to strengthen communication links with the outside world. Therefore, he paid out of his own pocket to set up a web page for the association, in a bid to make SIWMA more attractive and well-known.
3. Golf tournament
In 2008, the association held its inaugural golf tournament.
The support for the tournament was overwhelming. The support and encouragement from the participants heartened the executive committee members who organised the event. Furthermore, the charity funds raised was also sizeable. This gave the executive committee the confidence to go ahead with holding a golf tournament every two years as it would give members more opportunities to interact with one other.
Four more golf tournaments were subsequently held in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
2009年12月10日，公会庆祝成立28周年的晚宴上，除了主宾本会永久名誉法律顾问林勇大律师，本会初次邀请到Singapore Structural Steel Society (SSSS)会长陈天聪先生（时任建设局董事）为大会贵宾，还有建设局专业人员现场讲解要成为合格的钢结构承包商所须具备的条件。
4. Mr Sik has held the chairmanship for eight years
Mr Sik was the President of the 8th executive committee back in 1995. In 2009, he was re-elected to become chairman of the 15th executive committee and held the position till today. As of today, he has been the President for four executive committees consecutively for a total of eight years.
After being elected as the President of the 15th executive committee, Mr Sik had several goals in mind:
1. Work with colleagues in the executive committee and fellow members to increase the number of members to exceed 100 again.
2. Attract younger members to take on some of the association’s administrative work in order to groom the next generation of successors.
3. Have a permanent address to make it more convenient to hold meetings and carry out administrative work, as well as to ensure that the association’s files are securely kept.
4. Organise more activities that are beneficial for the industry, such as various talks, overseas study trips, golf competitions, and other social activities etc.
5. Give back to society by contributing towards charitable causes.
On 10th December 2009, at the association’s 28th annual dinner, other than the guest of honour Mr Lim Yong who was the SIWMA’s Permanent Honorary Legal Adviser, Mr Tan Tian Chong, the President of Singapore Structural Steel Society (SSSS) graced the dinner as a VIP. Mr. Tan was then the Director at the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) of Singapore. A Staff from the BCA also gave a presentation on the requirements needed to become a qualified structure steel contractor.
当年12月28日，本会在中华总商会的嘉庚堂举行30周年会庆的晚宴，除了分发特刊，同时启动了全新的网站。当晚的主宾是林勇大律师，贵宾是Mr. Ho Wan Boon, President of Singapore Structural Steel Society。本会一向关心慈善团体，当晚也捐款给两个为民众提供服务的医疗机构。
5. Publication of the first commemorative special issue
In 2011, SIWMA turned 30 years old. This was another important milestone after the first golf tournament back in 2008.
To commemorate the 30th anniversary, the executive committee published a first ever special issue (in colour and a total of 120 pages) to record SIWMA’s activities and development since its founding. The book also included many precious documents and photographs. Many members and practitioners in the industry showed their support by taking up advertising space in the book, an admirable display of camaraderie indeed.
The association’s website was also revamped to provide members and practitioners in the industry with the latest information.
On 28th December in the same year, SIWMA’s 30th anniversary dinner was held at the Tan Kah Kee Hall at the Singapore Chinese Chamber Of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI). At the banquet, the special commemorative issue was launched and a brand new website was revealed. The guest of honour for the night was SIWMA’s Permanent Honorary Legal Adviser Mr Lim Yong while Mr Ho Wan Boon, President of the Singapore Structural Steel Society, was the VIP. SIWMA has always been contributing to charitable causes and during the dinner, cash donations were handed over to two medical organisations that provide healthcare services to the public.
The association also maintained good ties with sister organisations in the neighbouring countries. During that year, a group from the Federation of Malaysian Foundry and Engineering Industries Association visited SIWMA and toured the galvanizing plant of one of our members.
6. Second commemorative issue and website revamp
In order to facilitate interaction and forge stronger bonds among members, the executive committee organised a series of events such as “Celebrating 50 years of nation-building cum members’ night” on 25th July 2015 and “Mid-autumn festival members’ night” on 9th September 2016 etc.
The ardent support and active participation from members and industry practitioners provided the greatest source of motivation for the executive committee to organise such activities.
The passage of time is at times a blur, and five years passed in the blink of an eye. To celebrate SIWMA’s 35th anniversary, the executive committee decided to publish another commemorative issue, “35 Years of Arduous Journey”.
Mr Sik’s suggestion to revamp the website also received everyone’s support. The brand new website would be launched at the 35th anniversary dinner.
7. Numerous issues faced by the industry
Over the past few years, the industry has faced a series of problems.
When economic conditions were favourable, many new companies, both local and foreign, appeared to vie for a share of the local market leading to a glut of supply. Cut throat competition and deteriorating economic conditions coupled with rising costs in recent years led to falling prices. This resulted in a chorus of complaints in the industry.
Mr Sik shared that ups and downs are inevitable in business. Based on past experience, it is vital to steady the ship and wait out the storm in the face of such terrible market conditions.
Back in the 90s, due to a shortage of skilled labour in Singapore, Mr Sik wrote a letter on behalf of SIWMA to the Ministry of Manpower to appeal for a loosening of restrictions for the work permit application process for Malaysian skilled labour.
During dialogues with industry practitioners held at the SCCCI in 2014 and June 2015, Mr Sik also spoke sincerely about the circumstances that the industry found itself in in the hope that the relevant authorities would take note.
On 14th July 2015, a dialogue was also held with the BCA to highlight the various problems faced by the industry in the hope that the authorities could lend a helping hand.
On 14th October 2016, while attending the “Dialogue with the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Chan Chun Sing” organised by the SCCCI, Mr Sik spoke about the significant loss of business to overseas competitors in recent years. This has led to a sharp decline in business for those in the industry as well as in related industries. Mr Sik urged the government or relevant authorities to step in and understand the issues in detail before rolling out relevant policies to help the industry tackle its difficulties.
8. Heartfelt thanks and an appeal
Looking back, the past 35 years has been a difficult journey for SIWMA. The association’s limited economic resources means that it was unable to organise more activities and increase its income which in turn caused its financial position to weaken further. Thus, SIWMA had to maintain a low profile. The association’s finances only improved after it held its first golf tournament back in 2008. SIWMA is only able to survive till today largely due to the unwavering support and generous donations from members and industry practitioners. Their continued interest in the golf tournament and strong friendship warm the hearts of those in the executive committee.
The association has intentions of organising more activities for its members but more manpower is needed for this. Among its members, many of those who are responsible for organising events are no longer young and energetic. Within the executive committee, there are also quite a number who are in their 50s or older. Often, they are tied up with their own business and unable to find time and/or energy. Hence, we sincerely hope that the younger generation can step forward to gradually take over the reins and inject much needed vitality to the association. It is also our hopes that others in the industry would unite together by joining SIWMA and contribute their strengths so that this platform to facilitate interaction and communication amongst those in the industry can serve its purpose.