Tuesday 26 May 2020

A Charitable Singaporean Millionaire (Part 1)

A photo of the orphanage taken on 8th Sept. 2013.

I always have a small notebook in my cab to note down particulars in case of an unfortunate traffic accident.

Occasionally, I used it to scribble brief details like a journal of an interesting character, any unforgettable encounter, or anecdotes that I might use later as my writing stock.

As it turned out, I accumulated a sizeable amount of materials in my worn-out journal enough to write a book but I don't think I ever do that as I prefer to pen them in this blog whenever I felt an urge or for whatever inexplicable reason.

Here is a heartwarming true story I wrote 7 years ago which I would like to share it with you again.

On a Tuesday morning many years ago, a call booking came in to pick someone at a Hillview Avenue condo.

Standing alone at the lobby was a skinny local Chinese man in his mid-sixties. He wore a white long sleeve shirt and beige colored pants, neatly ironed.

He looks ordinary and was smiling as I rolled into the lobby. Beside him were about ten cardboard boxes.

We had loaded the boxes in no time with him giving me a helping.

As he gingerly seated himself beside me, he politely told me in pure Teochew to send him to HarbourFront...ferry loading bay.

I guessed he must be a trader with business in Batam.

As I drove along, I asked him in Hokkien, "How is your business in Batam?".

His answer was an astonishing revelation of a sort.

"I don't have a 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 hesitantly, "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 reluctance, 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?"

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 him respectfully "Are the goodies for poor children in Batam"

On hearing my resonating 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 about my orphanage, you're welcome to join me on my next trip there this coming Saturday.

I was shocked at his impromptu kind offer. Can I believe what I just heard from a total stranger?.

He passed me his name card when we reached his destination.

The only way to find out is to accept his invitation and follow him to his orphanage in Batam,

Wow!, here we have, a true blue pioneer Singaporean who built his wealth through sheer hard work and is now contributing back to society albeit in Batam, 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 runs his orphanage out of his own pocket money?

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 and also share an update of the orphanage as it is today.

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