“Miser” surprises everyone by leaving millions to charity

4696
Photo: YouTube screengrab
 

Despite his reputation for miserliness, Loh Kum Mow surprised his family and friends by leaving a good portion of his $20 million fortune to charitable institutions. Mr. Loh died of natural causes in December 2016 at the age of 89.

Mr. Low’s work as a sub-accountant for many years at what was then known as Public Insurance Company (now MS First Capital Insurance) as well as stock market investments made him a millionaire.

The four recipients of Mr. Loh’s benevolence are the following 

  • Bo Tien Welfare Services Society
  • National Kidney Foundation (NKF)
  • Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities
  • Ren Ci Hospital

Each of these institutions received approximately S$840,000 and were told about the donation a few months ago, upon the full liquidation of Mr. Loh’s shares.

Mr. Loh’s sisters each received 6%, and his four nieces and nephews each got 13.75% of his fortune.

Denny Chua, the honorary secretary of Bo Tien Welfare Services Society, said that the gift will put Bo Tien, which is a voluntary as well as a non-profit organization, on more solid financial ground to assist more people in need. Bo Tien is fully dependent on donations from the public.

Tim Oei, CEO of NKF, expressed his gratitude for Mr. Loh’s generous donation, saying that the organization rarely receives such a large amount, and that more than 4000 patients of NKF are sure to benefit from it. The NKF has allotted Mr. Loh’s donation for the operational expenses of one of the foundations dialysis centers at Block 633 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6.  “His legacy gift will certainly go a long way in fulfilling our mission of giving life and hope, enabling us to bring better care and integration, and provide stronger support to patients at the community level,” Mr. Oei said.

Thye Hua Kwan announced that Mr. Loh’s legacy will go towards their free clinics, multi-race and religious events, and other services that they offer, and Ren Ci will strengthen their patient care and rehabilitation program with the donation they’ve received.

Charlie Loh, Mr. Loh’s nephew and executor, described his uncle as a self-made man, who rose from poverty as the son of a fishmonger.  Born in Guangdong, he moved to Singapore when he was three years old. During World War 2 he worked as a translator for the Japanese. 

In his 30’s, Mr. Loh obtained an accountancy certification from Cambridge, despite only having had a few years of formal education in Mandarin. In his 40’s he married a member of the same firm. The couple had no children of their own.

Mr. and Mrs. Loh shared the same thrifty habits, such as dressing simply. His nephew said that the only branded item his uncle used was a much-repaired Seiko watch. His frugal ways were so well-entrenched in his character that the only time he repaired the roof of his own house was when it was near collapse, and he had received a official warnings about it.

But he was loyal to the members of his family, and paid for his grandmother’s elderly care home fees for many years when she suffered from dementia and needed a feeding tube, and he also sent money to his extended family in China every year. 

Mr. Loh was able to visit his relatives in Shantou in 2014, which was one of the last wishes he made before dying in 2016.

After Mrs. Loh died six years ago, Mr. Loh chose the charitable institutions that would benefit from his donations. Mr. Charlie Loh believes that his uncle chose the NKF since he had suffered from diabetes for more than four decades, and that the other charities were chosen because Mr. Loh had experienced the suffering of his wife, mother and others from chronic illnesses.

A tablet has been laid in his honor and memory at Thye Hua Kwan Temple’s Hall of Filial Piety in Sengkang West, as a symbol of Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities’ gratitude.