CDL deputy chairman dies of heart attack

GREEN ADVOCATE: Mr Kwek, known for championing sustainability practices in businesses, was conferred the President's Award for the Environment 2015 last month.


    Nov 17, 2015

    CDL deputy chairman dies of heart attack

    City Developments deputy chairman Kwek Leng Joo died of a heart attack yesterday aged 62.

    Mr Kwek, who was also noted for his philanthropy, passion for the environment and his skills as a photographer, died in his sleep.

    "Mr Kwek's leadership, invaluable contribution and presence will be greatly missed," said CDL in a statement yesterday.

    Mr Kwek was appointed CDL's director in 1980 and held the role of managing director from 1995 until February last year when he was appointed deputy chairman.

    He is the younger brother of property tycoon Kwek Leng Beng, the executive chairman of conglomerate Hong Leong Group, which includes listed CDL. The Kwek family is estimated by Forbes to have a fortune of around US$6 billion (S$8.5 billion).

    Mr Kwek was a strong advocate of corporate social responsibility and was well-known for championing sustainable practices in businesses. He was conferred the President's Award for the Environment 2015 - Singapore's highest environmental accolade - last month.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who previously headed the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, described Mr Kwek as the "perfect gentleman who was so passionate about sustainability, corporate social responsibility, photography and social issues".

    "His humility, grace and generosity was inspiring. I was fortunate to have known and worked with him for so many years on some of his causes."

    Mr Kwek was an avid photographer and raised more than $3 million through sales of his photographs and photography books for various environmental and charitable causes, including The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.

    "He was a generous man who believed in helping needy children and nurturing them to realise their dreams," said Tan Bee Heong, general manager of the Fund. The photographs he took of the Botanic Gardens were submitted as part of the successful bid in July to have the Gardens named a Unesco World Heritage Site - Singapore's first.

    Mr Kwek also contributed actively to the local business and civic communities through various public appointments, including serving as president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) from 1993 to 1997, and 2001 to 2005.

    "During these eight years when he headed the SCCCI as president, he left a legacy of salutary achievements," said Mr Thomas Chua, the current president.

    Among other things, Mr Kwek brought in the first two female council members to the Chamber, set up the Chinese Language and Culture Fund together with the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations as well as collaborated with Mendaki to offer scholarships to Malay/Muslim undergraduates from local universities.

    "His leadership and excellent contributions will be recorded forever in the annals of the SCCCI, and be a role model for many successful individuals to give back to society," said Mr Chua.