A Singapore Breakfast with multimillionaire philanthropist, Chen Guangbiao (陳光標)

10:34 PM claire 0 Comments

If you donated money to a charitable organisation, would you keep it to yourself, or tell others? Whichever decision you choose, there are bound to be people who will react differently, and may even judge you for acting this way.

Such is the dilemma of being a high profiled philanthropist like Chen Guangbiao, chairman of Jiangsu Huangpu Recycling Resources Co Ltd. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that the effort he puts into giving and volunteering is a commendable act.

Most recently, in January 2013, he was in the spotlight for giving away free cans of 'fresh air', as a response to China's unnaturally high levels of air pollution. After Japan was struck by the tsunami, he personally flew over to distribute food, water, sanitary goods and blankets to shelters. These are just the tip of the iceberg of the charitable acts he's done, and it's no wonder that some people look up to him and call him 'Biao ge' (elder brother).


A week ago, I was one of the few lucky bloggers invited to have breakfast with Chen Guangbiao (陳光標) at Bedok Food Centre. I spent the night before that doing my research, finding out who he was and making sure that the questions I wanted to ask were in proper mandarin grammer. The excitement and anticipation started from the night before, and when I saw him, I was surprised.

Sporting a crew-cut hairstyle, a white short-sleeved shirt, office pants and a friendly smile,  he walked around Bedok Food Centre, observing our variety of food and eventually deciding on a bowl of fish sliced noodles. When I was introduced to him, I was shy and a little awkward. How often do you get to have breakfast with a multimillionaire at a hawker centre? My shy disposition simmered away after he gave me his name card and even asked for mine!

The breakfast was off to a good start.

He was very humble and approachable, and welcomed any questions. Being naturally curious, I took the chance to ask unexpected questions that I wanted to know, and answered without any air of arrogance or annoyance. He spoke praises of Singapore's economy and government, talked about his past and present global charity contributions and future plans to help more people in need. His reason for being such an avid environmentalist was because he felt it was his duty to help mother earth.

When asked about his family, he said that he calls them twice a day and meets them twice a month. He added that he always gives his wife roses whenever he meets her, to which all of us went "awwww". He also mentioned that he wanted his sons to follow in his charitable footsteps.


For a person who grew up in poverty, and now a self-made wealthy businessman, I asked him what his most expensive possession was. He thought for a bit and said that it was the watch he was wearing. All of us at the table leaned forward for a better look. 


 It was a Patek Philippe, where you merely 'look after it(the watch) for the next generation', easily five or six digits. He commented that it was a gift from a friend, and as we admired the watch from afar, we secretly wished we had such generous friends too.

His generousity
While he was in midsentence, there was an elderly lady, in her 70s or 80s, who approached our table to sell us packs of tissue for $1. If you've been in Singapore long enough, you'll know what I mean. After one of the other bloggers briefly explained the situation to Chen Guangbiao, he immediately took out US$100 note from his pocket and offered it to the lady. However, the lady looked confused, because she expected Singapore currency and did not recognise the note. Some explanations later, she accepted the money and went off.

Even though he finds that "好人没好报" which, directly translates to, good people don't have a good reward/ending, he gave away more US$100 notes to hardworking hawker cleaners, who looked grateful for the extra help.


Although our breakfast only lasted a short while, all of us present could sense his determination, generousity and passion towards helping others. I was really glad I managed to wake up on time to catch this! I remember asking him what his biggest regret in life was, and he replied saying his biggest regret was not having a second life to continue doing charity work. *cues Awww*


So what if he's outlandish, critics aside, it's great that he's started a movement, motivating others to donate and engage themselves in more community work. Check out the video below to hear what the other bloggers have to say!

If you know me in real life you know that I sound 'funny' speaking Mandarin, so I saved you guys the favour of listening to me speak funny and so I am speaking in English. Ignore my mental block in the middle please! I am typically video shy.

Hope that I'd be able to visit Chen Guangbiao in Nanjing in future!
Thank you OMY and Alvin for the invite and for some of the pictures with the OMY watermark! 
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