Rich but far from crazy – Singapore's uber-wealthy

Published August 22, 2018, 7:28 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

In the hit Hollywood movie “Crazy Rich Asians”, Singapore’s super-rich drive Ferraris and Lamborghinis, travel on private jets, and party on a container ship transformed into a nightclub at sea.

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.

Singaporean businessman Peter Lim (C), owner of Spanish La Liga football team Valencia and his wife Cherie Lim (R) speak with Valencia's executive director Anil Murthy (AFP/File / THOMAS SAMSON / MANILA BULLETIN)
Singaporean businessman Peter Lim (C), owner of Spanish La Liga football team Valencia and his wife Cherie Lim (R) speak with Valencia’s executive director Anil Murthy (AFP/File / THOMAS SAMSON / MANILA BULLETIN)

Below are profiles of some of the city-state’s wealthiest people:

Publicity-shy football club owner

Peter Lim, a self-made billionaire who owns Valencia Football Club, is publicity-shy and rarely gives interviews or appears in public, and little is known about his personal life.

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 stock broker.

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

In 2014, he bought Valencia FC for 420 million euros ($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.

Christian property tycoon

Singapore property tycoon Philip Ng 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.

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. [Forbes only gave their fortunes as one combined figure, not together]

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

Paint entrepreneur with no love of night life

Goh Cheng Liang, 91, 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 laundrywoman mother and was so poor growing up that he and his family of seven had to squeeze into a 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 and with interests in other areas, including property.

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 in an interview with Singapore’s Business Times.