Kwek Hong Png
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Kwek Hong Png (simplified Chinese: 郭芳枫; traditional Chinese: 郭芳楓; pinyin: Guō Fāng Fēng; 1912 - 8 November 1994) was a Singaporean businessperson, known for establishing Hong Leong Group, of which he was also chairperson. Born to a penniless family, Kwek turned from rags to riches after arriving in Singapore in 1928, eventually becoming one of the world's richest men, with an estimated net worth of S$3 billion before his retirement in 1984.
Born 1913 in Fujian's Tung Ann district to a miserly farmer, Kwek arrived in Singapore in 1928 from Fujian. He first started out as a shop helper at his brother-in-law's hardware firm. His monthly salary then was just $5 and he reportedly slept on the floors of the store. During World War II, Kwek became rich by trading construction materials. He also participated in smuggling basic goods and traded with Japanese merchants.
Founded in 1941, the Hong Leong Group was originally a trading company that supplied basic construction materials and rubber. Wanting to work as a team, Kwek subsequently beckoned his three brothers to join Hong Leong. Becoming chairman of the organisation in 1956, Kwek retired in 1984; before that, his net worth was estimated by Forbes to be worth S$3 billion. He was also ranked one of the wealthiest men in the world by Forbes.
In November 1989, a lawsuit was filed against Kwek for the misuse of funds as well as abetment. Represented by G. P. Selvam, Kwek was later found guilty of the charges, with a pending charge of "dishonestly receiving stolen property". Kwek was later allowed bail set at a million dollars. Kwek's passport was also seized as a precaution.
Death and legacy
Kwek died in 1994, aged 82. Louis Kraar of CNN described Kwek as "Singapore's leading developer". His empire was later inherited by his son, Kwek Leng Beng. In 2003 a gallery displaying Chinese artefacts at the Asian Civilisations Museum was named after Kwek, and in 2015, following renovations to the museum, a new wing called the Kwek Hong Png Wing was opened.
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