He began his business 20 years ago with $50. Now he owns a house worth $1m
FOR this karung guni man, Singapore has indeed been a City of Possibilities.
Self-made millionaire Poon Buck Seng outside his terrace house Saint Michael's Road
He had only $50 to start his business 20 years ago.
Today he lives in a million-dollar two-storey terrace house.
For some time, he ran a business exporting second-hand computer parts.
But he is still a karung guni man.
In the beginning, Mr Poon Buck Seng, 48, could only pick up junk or pay small amounts for things people were throwing away.
He would then take his goods to sell at the Sungei Road Thieves' Market.
Within seven years, he had saved enough money to rent shop space nearby.
And he expanded his business to sell bigger used items like computers, refrigerators, videotape recorders and television sets, in addition to old clothes, shoes and records.
It was only in 1993 that he registered his second-hand goods trading business.
Five years later, Mr Poon had saved enough money to buy the house on Saint Michael's Road. He paid $730,000 for it.
One week after Mr Poon and his family moved into the 1,636sqft freehold property, he was offered $1.4 million for the unit in a collective sale.
Unfortunately, the sale did not go through, he said. Two of his neighbours confirmed the en bloc offer.
So please don't call him a millionaire yet, Mr Poon told this reporter, though his property is probably worth around $1million now. LIFE'S STILL THE SAME
The father of four children said his life has not changed much since leaving the family's three-room HDB flat in Bishan.
He has never bought a car and still rides his bicycle around the neighbourhood to collect old goods.
Mr Poon said in a mixture of Mandarin and Hokkien: 'Some things I buy, some things I get for free. My friends all know about my work so they call me when they have things to throw or give away.'
'When I spot some good things thrown away by my neighbours, I pick them up and bring them home. There is nothing to be paiseh (embarrassed) about.'
His son, civil servant Andy Poon, 23, said: 'My father is the first person in the family to wake up and the last to go to bed. He is always packing his barang barang and thinking of ways to sell them. He piles his stuff in every corner. It's not a good sight but we are all used to it.
'But he makes a decent living and I am proud of him.'
Every day, even on Chinese New Year's day, Mr Poon sells his old goods at Sungei Road. Even when he had his own shop, he would go there to sell smaller items.
He said: 'From 10am to 5pm I would be at my shop. And from 5pm to 7pm I would be at Sungei Road.
'When I had my shop, my main business was exporting used computer parts. Back then there weren't many people doing that so my business was very good. I made a few thousand dollars every month.
'My export business lasted only 10 years. By 2002, business kept declining as too many people had jumped onto the bandwagon. So I decided to close shop and go back to my good old karung guni trade.'
One of his Sungei Road friends described Mr Poon as very hardworking.
The 80-year-old, who gave his name only as Mr Tan, sells silver accessories next to Mr Poon's stall.
He said in Mandarin: 'Unless it's very heavy rain, he comes here to do business every day. REMAINED HUMBLE
'We've known each other for many years, and he has remained a humble man though he has made his fortune.'
Before Mr Poon opened his shop, he used to work as a welder in a shipyard in Jurong. He was earning about $2,000 a month when he began working part-time as a karung guni man.
He recalled: 'I just wanted to make some extra money. Back in the 1980s, I was constantly on the run from the authorities when I set up my makeshift stall in Sungei Road. Luckily the authorities later changed the rules.
'In the good old days, I made between $100 and $200 daily at Sungei Road. I sold all kinds of used goods for anything from $2 to more than $50. The money was good as not many people were doing it.'
When he opened his shop, he quit his shipyard job. And he began exporting used computer parts to countries like Pakistan, making much of his fortune in those years.
He closed his shop in 2003. He said: 'The rent was $3,800 a month. I couldn't sustain the business with stiff competition and high rental.'
Without a shop, Mr Poon started piling up junk at home. And the mess soon upset his wife.
Said Mrs Poon Yean Bik, 50, who works part-time in a fast food restaurant: 'Once I was so angry that I threw away all his things. When he came home and found them missing, he was so angry with me that I got scared.
'When I see his junk, I can't stop nagging. He is a jovial man and usually laughs it off. But when he gets angry, he can be very fierce.'
Their neighbour, Mr Eleuther Lee, 21, a polytechnic student, is more than happy to have them staying next door.
He said: 'Sometimes Mrs Poon brings us food and we give Mr Poon things we want to discard.'
taken : http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/st...38351,00.html?