The success story of Professor Tan Sri Dato’ Paduka Dr Fhg Ah Seng
If you are not living on the edge, then you have not comprehended the real meaning of life.” Those were the words that captured my attention as I flipped through ‘The Unique Adventurous Tycoon’ –one of the many books that were penned by Professor Tan Sri Dato’ Paduka Dr Fng Ah Seng himself.
A billionaire with a thirst for speed and adventure today, was one who had built his empire by setting his goals high even as a child. An accomplished housing developer who operates in more than eight states in Malaysia with close to 400 employees, with two master degrees and two PhD, he revealed that he wasn’t one that was raised with a silver spoon.
“I grew up in a very poor family and my parents divorced when I was nine years old. There were three of us – my older sister, myself and a younger sister. Being short of food was a norm then. Although this was the case, my mother would frequently remind me that education is the shortest distance between poverty and success, and hard work is the best Feng Shui. As long as you work harder – you’ll be rewarded. There are no other secrets and no other shortcuts.”
“So, the only way to change my fate was by working harder than the rest. When people were asleep – I was working, others worked eight hours – I worked 12 hours.”
Although Fng was the only one who didn’t get a pre-school education, he managed to perform well in primary school despite holding a few part time jobs. Working in coffee shops and jumping into the river to collect dry coconuts did not deter him either from obtaining a scholarship after high school.
“At that time, my ambition was to be an army officer and a jet pilot. In high-school, I was an army cadet, and right after Form 5, I was offered a place in the Malaysia Royal Military College as a cadet officer. However, due to the numerous crashes that happened during that time, mother wasn’t too pleased of the idea.”
“So, I borrowed RM3,000 from my relatives, bought a one way ticket and went to the United States to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering. But life was not a bed of roses as I was short on funds. So, again, I worked in multiple places – convenient stores, restaurants, hospital – cleaning out dead bodies and hotels.”
Graduating with a Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from University of Houston, Texas, United States of America, he then progressed to a Master’s in Business Administration from Australian Institute of Business, Adelaide, Australia.
Building not just a career but a future
Wanting more than just a career, Fng knew that the only way to be wealthy is to become a housing developer.
“It is everyone’s dream to purchase a house. To me, I choose to be in the housing industry as I wanted to be someone who could attract and find a lot of resources so that I could do things my way. Without enough resources, everything is just a dream. My goal was crystal clear when I was young, and I’ve never swerved my mind all these years.”
In 1993, Fng returned to Malaysia and soon started working with a contractor and later in a developer’s firm to acquire the knowledge from both the construction as well as in housing development.
Howbeit, the economy downturn in 1997 took a toll on his career – leaving him temporarily unemployed for six months. Nevertheless, his decision to leave for Singapore was haltered at a farewell dinner, when a landowner who was suffering from brain tumour gave him a chance to develop his land at an initial payment of RM20,000 with subsequent payment as construction progresses as Fng couldn’t afford to pay him RM200,000 lump sum.
“Although I knew then that someday I would be an entrepreneur, little did I expect to be on my own so fast! At that moment, I quickly ran to my car, got a piece of paper, wrote down all the conditions, and asked him to sign. And that’s where I started with my first project. No one wanted to fight with me for this project as it was a 49 unit, low cost housing on a land which was like a lake. As banks were not giving out loans that easily, I decided to build a low cost housing that looked like a medium cost house and within weeks it sold out.”
Inculcating passion for learning
Honing in on the importance of lifelong learning in numerous universities as an invited speaker as well as his session at Oxford University last year, Fng says that education is essential to acquire a good job for a comfortable means of living.
“We were raised in the X generation born before 1973 where education makes a huge difference. There were two different types of people – the knowledgeable and educated and not so knowledgeable and uneducated. As long as you were in the society – you either lead people or mislead people. At that point education makes the most difference.”
“For the Y generation born after 1973, they are active on social media and quite knowledgeable – so the only way to differentiate yourself is to have a good attitude.”
“At Oxford – I stressed on merging the Western culture which is very good in execution, with the East – where we stress on loyalty and relationship.”
“To be an outstanding leader in this world – to have an exceptional achievement, you must merge the loyalty from the Eastern world and the execution power of the Western society. As the founder of the modern uniqueness success principle, I hate to compete and have conflict with other people. The only way to do away with competition is to be unique – not being number 1, as being number 1 comes and goes.”
“If you are appreciative and be trustworthy, don’t lie or cheat, be loyal and never criticise people behind their back, sincere, kind, courteous, intelligent and wise, respect your parents as well as older people – then you’re unique.
For a person not to grow old or grow older at a slower pace, Fng says it is vital to keep mentally and physically healthy.
“The only way to do this is to keep learning and be involved in extreme sports.”
“When you’re active, your brain becomes sharper and it will induce circulation and production of hormones. This makes your body healthy. Being physically active requires a lot of exercise. I do a lot of hiking, walking, aerobics and anaerobic exercises to help me sweat to detoxify.”
“Drink lots of water and stay away from sweets and sugars. Take good care of your food intake too. I eat and exercise like I have all kind of diseases,” he says with a smile.
Fng who has dived in search of salt water crocodile in Perth, swam with great whites in -5 degrees water 30 metres below the sea surface, hiked in Mount Everest, kayaked solo in the Arctic Ocean, and jumped out of the aircraft and fly in a wingsuit disclosed that these types of activities keeps his spirits high.
“Your mindset controls you. If your mind is healthy, your body would feel healthy too.”
Source : MMU Photo