Unlike so many other Asian billionaires, Robert Ng did not go from rags to riches. As the eldest son of the late Ng Teng Fong, he and brother Philip Ng inherited a business empire spanning Hong Kong, Singapore and now Australia. They also inherited their father’s commitment to philanthropy.
Ng, who was born in 1952, is chairman of the Sino Group, a Hong Kong property development conglomerate. The brothers also control the Singapore-based developer Far East Organization. Their net worth was estimated at $11.5 billion at the beginning of 2015, but they saw their wealth fall by more than $4 billion amid Singapore’s weak real estate market and declining sales in Hong Kong.
While revenues from their empire were down to a fourth to $4.1 billion since 2012 at the end of 2015, the brothers started expanding their business in Australia, according to Forbes. One of their latest purchases is the Westin Sydney hotel and the adjoining heritage retail podium for which they paid $342 million.
The Far East Organization is a main player in the transformation of Singapore’s urban landscape, with over 760 developments in the residential, hospitality, retail, commercial, and industrial sectors, including 49,000 or 1 in 6 private homes in the city.
Despite his business ambitions, Ng Teng Fong set a good example of philanthropy for his sons. When he died at the age of 82 in 2010, they set up the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation. The Far East Organization describes their charitable work as a “gift of love” on their website.
“At Far East Organization, we are obliged by our Christian values to seek the welfare of the city, support the causes of the needy and show love to our neighbors.
“In grateful thanksgiving to God for the life of our founder Mr. Ng Teng Fong, Far East Organization’s gifting initiatives aim to give back to the Singapore community in a way which also preserves the memory and honors the vision of our founder – to build an enduring enterprise, one that does good business and does good in business.”
The Ng family’s biggest donation so far is a contribution of $125 million to the Jurong Hospital. It was used to set up the Jurong Health Fund in support of needy patients, continued education for hospital staff, and the improvement of facilities and research. The hospital was subsequently renamed the Ng Teng Fong Hospital.
Staying in the area of health care, the Ng family also donated $52 million to help launch the Ng Teng Fong Healthcare Innovation Program at Tan Tock Seng Hospital in 2014. The program wants to equip healthcare professionals and members of the community to better care for the sick.
From healthcare to the arts, the National Gallery of Singapore received $20 million from the Ng Teng Fong Foundation in September 2015. As a gesture of thanks, the gallery said it will name a roof garden after the late tycoon.
Other donations by the Ng family include HK$1 million to the Lingnan University for the establishment of the Sino Group/Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation Scholarship Program. The program will recognize outstanding accounting students, while allowing them to further develop professional knowledge and broaden work experience through internship opportunities.
Since 2012 the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation held a yearly donation ceremony for hundreds of non-governmental associations and social enterprises in honor of their good work. According to information on the social responsibility page of the Sino Group, the total amount in 2014 was HK$11,5 million. In 2013 it was HK$19 million, and in 2012 it was HK$17,8.
In 2014 the foundation also donated HK$10 million to support two projects of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Group – Youth Business Hong Kong, and social enterprises in Tin Shui Wai. Another scholarship program in 2012 gave RMB50,000 to 20 young people with outstanding performance in education and science.
The Ng Teng Fong professorship in real estate was established in 2013 by the National University of Singapore. The professorship, supported by a gift from Far East Organization, seeks to attract outstanding academics in the fields of real estate economics, finance and research.
A good explanation of why they give away much of their fortune to charity, came from Philip Ng at a breakfast meeting with businessmen. He said: “The ironic thing about possession is that you don’t possess the possessions, the possessions possess you.”
Chairman Profile Sino Group. Retrieved from http://www.sino.com/en-US/About-Us/Management-Profile/Sino-Land-Company-Limited
Social Responsibility Sino Group. Retrieved from http://www.sino.com/en-US/Our-Community/Social-Responsibility
Ng Ten Fong Charitable Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.sino.com/en-US/Our-Community/Ng-Teng-Fong-Charitable-Foundation
Shetty, Deepak. (2015, September 16). Ng Teng Fong’s family donates 20 million to National Gallery Singapore. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/arts/ng-teng-fongs-family-donates-20-million-to-national-gallery-singapore
Social Responsibility Far East Organization. Retrieved from http://www.fareast.com.sg/en/About-Us/Social-Responsibility.aspx