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In Pursuit Of Goodness

Ms Sng, the altruistic owner and headman of Singapore’s last village, is a prime example of how happiness comes from just being good

8/4/2015 11:37:09 AM
written By : Shobha Tsering Bhalla Print

She owns what is arguably the largest plot of land in Singapore yet her home is a simple, 140sqm (square metre) zinc-roofed house with one basic toilet, a rough cement floor and rudimentary furniture.
Redefining frugality in what is often cited as the most expensive city in the world, Ms Sng Mui Hong, owner of the 12,248sqm of land called Kampong Buangkok in the Northeast of Singapore, lives on only $500 a month despite owning property that is worth approximately $50 milion on paper, by some estimates.
The sprightly 62-year-old land-lord and “headman” of Singapore’s last village collects barely $500 in rentals from her 28-odd tenants most of whom are long-term. The highest rental - $30 a month – comes from septugenarian song-bird rearer Mr Nin Haji Awe, while most, like her oldest tenant Mr Omar Bin Dengkil, 84, who has been living there since 1950, pay between $6.50 and $17 a month. Some like Madam Nene Esa, 83, pay only $9.10 a month for a plot that looks large enough to house not just the three-room cottage on it but a 25m swimming pool and garden.
Clearly the rentals are way out of sync with the residents’ ability to pay.
Indeed, the sleepy bucolic charm of this dog-eared remnant of a bygone era is disturbed by flashy cars every now and then. Two houses had cars of a recent vintage parked in their ramshackle back yards and one even had a BMW and a Mercedes parked there on the four occassions this writer visited the village last week. Yet the question of higher rentals has never been raised – not by Ms Sng nor by her tenants some of whom can certainly afford it by all appearances.
But money ranks low in the happiness index of the kindly spinster who used to be wooed by prospective suitors with an eye on her inheritance as she laughingly recalls. Her Six Sigma approach to happiness is simple - do the maximum good you can to those around you. “I no care money. I no need so much money. I happy here, I sayang my kampong,” she replies to incredulous visitors.

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