Sunday 8 September 2013

A Singaporean Millionaire with a Heart of Gold - Part 1

Distance view of Orphanage in Batam run by a Singaporean
Yesterday, I visited Batam (Link), an Indonesian island 45minutes ferry ride from Singapore. I was there not for pleasure or business but an exploration of sort, as a result of picking up an extraordinary Singaporean four days ago. You'll get to know a bit more about this Singaporean and my reason for visiting Batam, as I share with you my real life rendezvous with him in this post.

Recently, I changed to a day shift taxi driver after six years as a night shift driver. Perhaps a divine voice reassured me that I had made the right decision in my shift change, as I was rewarded with meeting an exceptionally benevolent man on the very first day of my day driving. It was a day I will never forget for a lot of reasons.

Here is my true story.

This Tuesday, around ten in the morning, a booking came in to pick someone at a Hillview Avenue condo. Standing alone at the lobby was a skinny local Chinese man in his late-fifties. He wore a blue striped short sleeve shirt and a pair of pants in light beige color; both were neatly ironed. He looks ordinary and was smiling as I rolled into the lobby. Beside him were about ten cardboard boxes. With him giving me a helping hand, we had no problem loading his stuffs into the boot and back seat of my taxi.

As he gingerly seated himself beside me, he politely told me in pure Teochew to send him to HarbourFront...ferry loading bay. He must be a trader with business in Batam, I told myself. As I drove along, I asked him in Hokkien, "How is business in Batam". His answer was an astonishing revelation of sort.

"I don't have business in Batam anymore"  he answered slowly. And after a long pause and looking straight into my eyes like a psychiatrist carefully examining his patient, he eventually continued  "I used to co-own and run the biggest shipyard in Batam. After we sold our shipyard to an Arabian company, I'm now semi-retired.

"What are those boxes for" I asked with tongue in cheek.

Again, with some reluctant he answered, "Goodies for kids in Batam"

At that point, many questions floated in my mind. "Why is this rich man, who lived in a condo and once owned and run the biggest shipyard, is now sending goodies to children in Batam. If this delivery is not for business, then what?" For fun-fair or charity?

I was intrigued and wanted to know more but I reminded myself to be tactful with my queries as he wasn't much of a conversationalist and perhaps age had made him taciturn.

After much careful deliberation, I asked "Are the goodies for poor children in Batam"

On hearing my compelling question, his sleepy eyes brighten up and he spontaneously answered  "Yes, I run an orphanage in Batam for charity and these goodies are for "my kids" there. If you want to know more of my orphanage, you're welcome to join me in my next trip there this coming Saturday.

I was shocked at his impromptu offer. Can I believe what he said, a total stranger?. The only way to find out is to accept his invitation and follow him to his orphanage in Batam which I did yesterday.,

Wow!, here we have, a true blue pioneer Singaporean who built his wealth through sheer hard work and is now contributing back to the society in Batam, particularly in making a difference in the life of many orphaned kids there. Why he did that? What kind of orphanage he runs in Batam? What kind of a person is this remarkable Singaporean who run his orphanage out of his own pocket money, without donations, whatsoever. What are his personal motivations and views of the kind of society and government we have in Singapore. And many more.......

I'll answer these questions in my next post as I've urgent personal matters to attend to right now. Meanwhile, here are two photos of the Batam orphanage run by Mr. Chua.

Courtyard inside Orphanage


Ali Baba 9th thief said...

Good to know that a true blue Singaporean with a heart of gold building an orphanage home for the kids in Batam. I have seen other orphanage homes in other part of Indonesia, which more could be done for these innocent kids. Back to Batam, most importantly, glad to know that Mr Chua is not looking at the creed but knowing the kids are without a motherly or fatherly love, but the warmth embrace and love showered by Mr Chua will be suffice to show the kids while growing up, there is stiil a kind and decent human kind in this part of the world who care for them all out there in their uncertainty world. For Mr Chua, happy is a man who knows what is real love by giving, providing and caring while he is financially independent and able. May the happiness and the joy you provide for the kids in turn give you internal joy and happiness beyond understanding that give you good health all the many years watching the kids grow. Terima Kasih Pak Chua.And Mr James Lim, thank you for sharing the post with us. You take care and drive safe.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Yes heartwarming, just goes to show there are good people in this world.

Anonymous said...

Good Deeds not only warmth Hearts but a fulfilment that Mr Chua enjoys every day of his life beyond words can describe. He is a True Man with A Big Heart!

May All Blessings Be With Mr Chua & All!

Nur'Ain Zainuddin said...

Good afternoon.

I'm Ain, research writer from Happy-TV Media.

We are involved in a newly launched online TV channel called Happy-TV (

One of our shows is called Talkabout. It is a weekly "live" forum that provides diverse views on hot topics and issues of the day. Participants come from a wide cross section of Singapore from the man-in-the-street to specialists in the areas discussed. All of them will have a vested interest in sharing their views because what's talked about are issues that matter to us in Singapore.

On 16th September, Monday, the topic that we would like to discuss is "Are Singaporeans Dangerous Drivers?". We would love for you to join us in the discussion. We think your insights and opinions, especially as a taxi driver, would be very valuable.

Could you contact me at or +65 6837 2345 and I could give you more details?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Is he mr chan or mr chua? From what I know, there is only one boss from that big shipyard speaks “pure teochew”, sixty something, skinny, soft spoken, polite, but he rarely wear short sleeve shirt, I hope I didn’t get it wrong. Or could it be one of his two brothers? which I don’t think so, neither of his brothers “co-owned” that business, and also, may be not that rich. Mr chan was originally an Indonesian many years ago before he started his shipbuilding business; the “pure teochew” is more an Indonesian accent. I worked for him for a year or so when he had shifted to jurong from lorong buangkok in the mid 80’s, he straggled quite hard in those days, with the kind of traditional management style and a soft heart; he did quite well but not really good before his big boss set up these yards in batam and got it listed. He is a very nice boss, I’m glad to know that he has since “semi-retired”, a man like him, with a great heart, is more valuable to be him today (in the charity) than in the money making business. I sincerely wish him all the best. Eagerly waiting for your part 2, would like to find out more about him and his orphanage house. And james, you take care and drive safe. Sorry for my poor English.

Anonymous said...

There is a saying in Tamil that roughly translates as : The world spins without any blockade just because there is atleast one person on earth who is good heart.

Unknown said...

Hihi James. .as a fellow cab driver, I am delighted to know there's an extremely cultured and considerate post. Unabashedly, you may be glad to know I am supporting a Javanese wife and 2 kids through my occupation. Like few but among many, I disagreed with the preoccupation with monetary wealth of Singaporeans. We turned a blind eye to the abject poverty that existed around Singapore. Instead we are motivated by the next range of mobile phones and the most elitist school for our kids. Charity are largely limited to within the borders of our country. We did not realised that much of our prosperity were as much through the assistance, if not exploitation, of our neighbours. Cheers and looking forward to your next post. ..

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sherline said...

Hi Good day ;)
We ( as a group of vol friend like to vol at batam home)
may I know how to contact Mr Chua for further info about visting this home at batam?


Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Shirline,

Sorry I can't give you the contact # of Mr. Chua but you can go direct to the Orphanage for a visit.