Saturday, January 22, 2011


The above picture of former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew's house was published in the Straits Times yesterday. It struck me that the founding father of modern Singapore - a man who can certainly afford to live in a mansion, has chosen to live in a rambling old house that was built in the 1940s. It says a lot about him, don't you think?

The sitting room has furniture that one would expect to find in an old folks home! It is this picture that got me thinking. If clothes make a man, how far does a house reflect the core values of the owner?

I am reminded of Warren Buffet's house in Omaha, USA. The world's third richest man with a personal fortune of US$47 billion still lives in a 5-room house that was built in 1921. He purchased it in 1958 for US$31,500.

Then there is the most expensive house in the world estimated at US$1 billion. Located in Mumbai, it is home to India's billionaire Mukesh Ambani, 53, his wife and three children. Named 'Antilia', it has drawn comparison to the Palace of Versailles. The skyscraper-home is 27 storeys high, and boasts three helipads, a cinema, temple, library and six levels of parking space. The luxury home stands in stark contrast to the city slums where more than 50% of the 18 million people live.

Closer to home is this new mansion of Sarawak's Chief Minister. Apparently, this is only one of the several luxury residences he owns here and overseas. Can politicians, ministers and government servants afford ostentatious homes and enjoy a lavish lifestyle based on their salary alone? We all know the answer to that.

Who doesn't know this man and his controversial mansion in Shah Alam? There is an on-going court case involving how he came to own this piece of property said to be worth RM24 million, so I shall reserve further comments on this.

So, folks, what a rich man does with his money is his business - provided the money he amasses is gained through his own hard work and honest means. He can choose to live modestly and enjoy the simple things in life. Or he can spend his millions on glitzy homes, flashy cars and expensive hobbies.

For the average Joe and Jane - that's the majority of us, we can either envy people with such fabulous wealth, or shake our heads in disbelief at the obscene display of what their money can buy.

Having lived for 20 years in the servants' annexe of an old wooden bungalow built during the colonial era, my present 3-room 1020-sq ft apartment felt like a dream home when I moved into it in 1990. I still live there, and it remains the only home I can proudly call my own, purchased with hard-earned money saved from a lifetime of working.

1 comment:

Freda said...

The Singapore PM's sitting room looks very odd. I wonder who sits in it? As to the mansions, how many servants does it take to look after them and their owners? I'm happy in a small bungalow, so I guess that tells you what my values are - comfort and peace.