Saturday 16 June 2012

Abraham Loh: He was there for needy till his last breath

Despite recent hospital stay, philanthropist spent 100th birthday with elderly poor
By Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times, 15 Jun 2012 

WHEN Mr Abraham Loh turned 100 on May 2, he did not want his birthday party to be about him.

Despite having been hospitalised just the month before, the philanthropist showed up at the Queenstown Community Centre that day - in a wheelchair - for a lunch he threw for 100 needy old folk.

He handed out hongbao to his guests, seated at four to five tables, before he became too exhausted to carry on; all guests were also given goodie bags containing rice and Milo.

Two weeks after that lunch, he was hospitalised again. He died on Tuesday.

His son Richard Loh, 47, said of the lunch: 'It was what he had wanted. Even though his prognosis was not good, his mind was focused and his will to carry it out was very strong.'

The family, requesting privacy, declined to reveal the nature of the centenarian's final illness.

By the time he retired in 1992 from running his aluminium business, he was well known among the elderly in Queenstown, where he had lived for more than 50 years, said his son.

In the years that followed, he stepped up his charity work there.

He did not just make donations to the Queenstown Multi-Service Centre, which provides daycare and rehabilitative services to the elderly. He dropped in there whenever he could, and was known among the elderly who hung out there.

As the centre's patron, his efforts to improve the place were tireless: he offered suggestions and sponsored the cost of its equipment.

In 2010, he auctioned off his Mercedes-Benz for $118,500 and made the centre the beneficiary of the proceeds.

Centre manager Michael Koe, 49, said: 'He was particular about helping the poor, especially those who lived in rental flats. He felt that as part of the community, he should give back too.'

Mr Baey Yam Keng, who was the MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC that looked after Queenstown up till last year, knows of Mr Loh's generosity first-hand.

Four years ago, Mr Baey said, Mr Loh pumped enough of his own money into Queenstown's ration bag programme so that 200 needy residents - instead of just 100 - could receive basic necessities such as rice, oil and toothpaste every month.

'He asked me if he could do more for the residents, and said, 'Let no one who needs the help be turned away',' said the MP, who now represents Tampines GRC.

The late Mr Loh was also the poster boy for an active lifestyle.

An accomplished qigong practitioner, he wrote and published books on this Chinese art of meditative exercise - and then gave copies away to charities so they could sell them to raise funds.

He also played golf. In 2008, at age 95, he was Singapore's oldest driver.

He leaves his wife, Madam Ng Ah Hoon, 83, two sons, two daughters and eight grandchildren. Mr Richard Loh said: 'My father led a very full life.'

No comments:

Post a Comment