One of local entertainment’s most prolific multi-hyphenates — the strapping 39-year-old also had a role in Netflix docuseries Singapore Social — he’s parlayed his popularity into pushing forward causes ranging from environmental pollution to cancer research.
Beneath that bubbly demeanour lies a contemplative nature, especially when he describes how losing his father to cancer 21 years ago led him to “become the person many people needed me to be… strong, inspiring and positive”. Although he admits there were sacrifices he had to make, he very quickly and good-naturedly assures you that “things happen for a reason, and we just have to go along with it”.
Why is doing good important to you?
Because I can. I think I’ve carved out a good career for myself and I would like to use that to bring about positive change in the world and in the lives of others. I believe in karma, and that giving to the universe will come back to me.
I support several causes, for example, Habitat for Humanity Singapore, Run for Hope and Animal Lovers League. I’ve been working with Habitat for Humanity Singapore for 10 years, through which I’ve helped build homes for communities in need around the region. Among my seven builds are assignments ranging from half to five days. My most memorable was in 2013 in Vietnam, where I led the only team out of 10 to complete building a home in five days. It was a very emotional and meaningful moment for me just knowing that I’d helped build a home for someone else.
In end 2018, I set up All Clear with a partner, who has been in the shipping business for 20 years. All Clear began as a sustainability initiative to clean rivers of pollution, particularly plastic. The focus is on rivers instead of oceans because rivers are nearer to the source of pollution. Also, unlike the plastic in oceans which get contaminated, plastic in freshwater sources like rivers can be recycled or reused.
All Clear offers a plastic offset programme for companies that work with us. Here’s how it works: if a company uses three tonnes of plastic a year, it can offset its plastic usage by purchasing, say, five tonnes of plastic from us. A company won’t be able to stop using plastic immediately but it can start figuring out how to do so with a five-year plan. At the very least, it can start playing its part to help save the earth.
What All Clear wants is to also educate the community. By encouraging communities to sell us their plastic waste, which we can recycle or reuse to produce other products, the income will enable people to improve their lives. Perhaps All Clear is how I will spend the rest of 2020.
What makes you feel good?
Even when times are not good, I remind myself to take every opportunity to do good. This may sound weird but sometimes, the less you have, the better life becomes. The communities I built houses for through Habitat for Humanity live simply and happily. Some of them didn’t even have a safe place to live in. From them, I learnt to be content and to never think the grass is always greener on the other side. So stop comparing yourself with others.
I try to be mindful about myself and how what I do can affect others and my environment. That’s why I put my money where my mouth is. If I champion a cause, I don’t want to just talk about it — I go plant a tree, walk the dogs from a shelter or run a marathon to raise funds or awareness.
Your secret to looking good?
I think it’s important to not worry too much about whether you look good or what others think of you. Take care of yourself; let go of the ego, and never judge or criticise yourself. Everything will be fine.
This is part of our series on men who have made doing good an integral part of their lives — and encourage others to do the same. For the full story, click here.
This story first appeared in the Apr 2020 issue of A Magazine.