The late Dr Robert Loh Choo Kiat was the longest serving President of YMCA of Singapore for 22 years from 1970 to 1992.
Dr Loh began his association with YMCA in 1937 as a Junior member when he was a young student at St Andrew’s. The YMCA building on 1 Orchard Road was a familiar sight to Dr Loh as he passed it every day, walking to and from school. It became like a second home to him. As a member, he joined its physical development classes and made full use of its facilities to indulge in healthy and wholesome recreational activities with his school mates.
Dr Loh also used to play cricket for YMCA. Just before the Second World War, he joined the commercial classes pioneered by YMCA where he took up typing and shorthand. After the War, Dr Loh became a Full member of YMCA and was subsequently invited to stand for election to the Board in 1962 by then President Dr A.W.S Thevathasan, where he served for 49 years till his retirement in 2011.
During Dr Loh’s tenure as President in the seventies to the early nineties, his contribution included changing the YMCA of Singapore Constitution to offer women full membership privileges in 1977 and setting up a Social Service Centre in Ang Mo Kio, a joint project with the Asian Women’s Welfare Association and the Singapore Anglican Welfare Council.
Dr Loh was also instrumental in securing the government’s approval for YMCA of Singapore’s plan to rebuild its ageing Edwardian-style building on 1 Orchard Road which was first opened in 1911. He donated generously to the Building Fund and it is through his efforts, supported by other Directors and donors that we have today in existence the nine-storey YMCA complex.
Following his retirement from the Board, Dr Loh continued to support the YMCA’s various programmes by attending several major events and donating to support fundraising efforts. He also sponsored the YMCA’s Y Makan Fellowship, a monthly community service programme that seeks to bring cheer to the elderly by treating them to a sumptuous meal and having youth volunteers befriend and interact with them over songs, games and other fun activities.
While we mourn the loss of Dr Robert Loh, we honour his memory as a stalwart supporter and benefactor of the YMCA of Singapore and the social service sector, and a community champion who has lived a life devoted to service.
“Having been influenced over the years by the movement and having one’s personal development interlinked so greatly with it, it is hardly surprising that it is important to preserve this movement as one believes that it will be of service and help to others in the community.” – Robert Loh, 1992