The Camera-Shy Real Life Crazy Rich Singaporeans

These real life crazy rich Asians just want to get on with their ultra-rich lives away from the spotlight. Can you blame them?
Monday 3 September 2018
The ultra-rich of Singapore prefer a quiet life. Photo: Warner Bros.

In the hit Hollywood movie Crazy Rich Asians, Singapore’s super-rich drive Ferraris and Lamborghinis, travel on private jets, and party on a revamped container ship turned swanky nightclub.

But the scenes of excess are a far cry from the true lifestyles of Singapore’s ultra-wealthy, who often lead more conservative, low-key existences than their peers in other parts of Asia.

Some of the city-state’s wealthiest people include the publicity-shy football club owner, Peter Lim.

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Singaporean businessman and owner of Valencia Peter Lim attends a match between Paris Saint-Germain and Toulouse FC with his wife Cherie Lim. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Lim, a self-made billionaire who owns Spanish team Valencia FC, is publicity-shy and rarely gives interviews or appears in public. Little is known about his personal life. People know one thing, though – he’s loaded.

The 65-year-old with a net worth of $2.45 billion, according to Forbes is a fishmonger’s son who made his fortune as a stockbroker.

He currently has business interests in the property, healthcare and sports sectors.

In 2014, he bought Valencia FC for 420 million euros (US$480 million), including 200 million euros to clear the club’s debts.

Lim, an avid Manchester United fan, failed in a bid to buy Liverpool in 2010.

Next in line is the ‘Christian Property Tycoon’ Philip Ng who is a born-again Christian who is hugely focused on his faith.

He has been described as calm and humble, and one interviewer told how he quoted extensively from the Bible when they met.

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As opposed to the film versions of Crazy Rich Asians, the real ultra-rich of Singapore prefer to be away from the limelight. Photo: Warner Bros.

Ng cautioned against wealth controlling a person, citing a popular parable in the Bible about a rich man who did not want to part with his wealth after seeking advice from Jesus on how to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Ng and his brother Robert Ng, who control property group Far East Organization, are listed by Forbes as Singapore’s wealthiest people, with a combined fortune of US$11.9 billion.

Robert Ng is now based in Hong Kong and controls the family’s interests in the southern Chinese city.

Goh Cheng Liang who is now 91 is a paint entrepreneur with no love of the nightlife.

Goh, Singapore’s third richest individual, grew up in poverty and started his business empire after buying a few barrels of paint.

With a net worth of $8.5 billion according to Forbes, he was born to a jobless father and laundress mother and was so poor growing up that he and his family of seven had to squeeze into one rented room in Singapore.

After working as a salesman in a hardware store, he bought several barrels of paint from an auction run by the British army in 1949.

That was the beginning of a huge business empire, with his company now owning a major stake in Japan’s Nippon Paint.

Though he shuns the nightlife, his one indulgence is a love of yachts and catamarans, but he is not keen on other forms of entertainment.

“I don’t like movies, I don’t like songs, I don’t like karaoke, I don’t like bars,” he said.

Clearly, the nightlife just doesn’t seem to float his boat.

Source: AFP