OXLEY HOLDINGS and its gung-ho CEO, Ching Chiat Kwong, are the cover story of the current edition of The Edge Singapore.
While the story by Michelle Teo covers largely the business aspects, it also delivers interesting insights into Ching's background and early career.
He was born in 1965 to Shanghai migrants and signed on with the Singapore Police Force after serving national service -- partly in order to help his parents succeed in their application to be Singapore citizens.
Subsequently, he studied sociology at the National University of Singapore, graduated with an honours degree, and rejoined the police force.
Two years later, he gave up his police uniform, tried his hand at making and selling otah before becoming a small-time contractor, taking whatever jobs he could get.
That included cleaning sewers at a wet market in Bt Merah, where he was spotted by family friends who then told his shocked parents of his work. "I had lied to them, told them I was doing a proper job with government contracts," Ching recalled. "(My mother) cried."
His prospects started to brighten when he began building showflats for property developers, including the Fragrance Group.
Learning about the business, he raised "a few hundred thousand to a million dollars" by taking a mortgage on his home, and bought a small plot of land. The project became the 48-unit Tyrwhitt 139 in Little India.
"Before (the launch), I woke up in the middle of the night, vomitting. I thought I had food poisoning. But it was stress and the fear of losing everything. Because it was the first time I was involved in a development, and I was alone."
The Edge Singapore is on sale at newsstands for $3.80.
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