Late Teo Soo Cheng’s legacy remembered

PETALING JAYA: The late Tan Sri Teo Soo Cheng, the patriarch of low-profile See Hoy Chan Holdings Group (SHC Holdings), has left a strong legacy behind in his family and the local property industry.

When he inherited SHC Holdings with a sizable landbank, Teo together with his sons embarked on a massive development in Petaling Jaya, which is now the bustling suburb of Bandar Utama that has energised the growth at this part of the Klang Valley over the years.

The renowned philanthropist and entrepreneur passed away at the age of 93 last Thursday. He was the executive chairman of SHC Holdings, Bandar Utama City Group and First Nationwide Group.

In the 1940s, the China-born businessman and his siblings helped father Datuk Teo Hang Sam build See Hoy Chan Group, that started as an egg trader.

Humility, working hard and perseverance are the values Teo taught his children.

One of the poignant memories for family members was Teo’s last act of kindness on the day he passed on. “He was with my mother and sister at home. He cut dried persimmons into many pieces and gave them to the maid [and other servants], the caregivers, and the children who were around,” eldest son Datuk Teo Chiang Kok told The Edge Financial Daily.

“I [had] been working with my father for the last 42 years,” said Chiang Kok.

“The first portfolio he gave [me] was to learn property development. He started me from the bottom, where I started as a site supervisor [going] to the site and [following] the engineers and supervisors to learn the ropes. That gave me very rich experiences and a very good way [of] introducing [me] to the business. [This] is something I learnt from him.”

Chiang Kok recalled his father was a frugal person, yet generous to others. “He always [reminded] us of his humble beginnings and that it was through frugality that the family [could be] this successful.”

Second son Datuk Teo Chiang Liang remembers his father as a person who always cared for others, especially his staff. “He always made sure that their salaries were paid on time, and festival advances were provided.

“[He would say] all of us should be humble, hardworking and honour what [we] do,” said Chiang Liang.

“He was a most industrious and complete gentleman,” said Datuk Teo Chiang Hong, the youngest son.

“My father always taught us to be principled, filial and honest,” said Chiang Hong.

The three sons are directors of SHC Holdings.

Son-in-law Dr Khoo Boon Hock, who took care of Teo during his later days, said his father-in-law was the easiest patient to care for. “He would patiently take his medicine [without any] complaints and was always full of gratitude,” said Khoo.

“My father-in-law taught me to endure great challenges with calm, patience, endurance, grit, and self-discipline.”

To his daughter Dr Teo Hooi Hoon, Teo was a man who always thought of others and was visionary in all he did. “He was also very disciplined and an organised person. He always had a clear vision of what he had to do and what had to be done. A man of vision,” she said.

Teo’s contributions to society were understated as he preferred to stay low key on what he did. However, his attitude and perseverance rang loud. One of Teo’s favourite Chinese characters, loosely translated as “endure” or “patience”, helped him through many difficult times.

His work and foresight in property development, especially in the development of Bandar Utama, resulted in him being awarded the 2002 Fiabci Malaysia Property Man of the Year Award. He was also the past president of the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association from 1972 and 1974.

Besides charity, Teo was active in education. He was the chairman of the board of governors of KBU International College and also past president of Tung Shin Hospital, where he subsequently became honorary president. He was also an honorary president of The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on May 19, 2014.


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