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Goh Eng Wah of Eng Wah cinemas passes away

SINGAPORE — Goh Eng Wah, the executive chairman of Eng Wah Global and a pioneer of Singapore cinema passed away peacefully on Saturday, Sept 5. He was 92.

The late Goh Eng Wah. Photo: Eng Wah Global

The late Goh Eng Wah. Photo: Eng Wah Global

SINGAPORE — Goh Eng Wah, the executive chairman of Eng Wah Global and a pioneer of Singapore cinema passed away peacefully on Saturday, Sept 5. He was 92.

The businessman’s first cinemas were Happy Theatre and the open-air Victory Theatre, both in Happy World at Geylang, which began operations in 1945.

In the 1960s, Goh’s cinema chain expanded to Raffles Hotel (Jubilee Hall) and King’s Theatre at Tiong Bahru. And over the next two decades, the Eng Wah Group extended its reach to the new Housing Development Board towns in Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio, Clementi and Kallang, and became one of Singapore’s leading film exhibitor and distributor.

Today, the Group’s business spans entertainment, properties, hospitality and lifestyle in Singapore and Malaysia. The Group manages a portfolio of brands that include WE Cinemas, Hotel Fort Canning, Jubilee Square, 321 Clementi, and The Legends Fort Canning Park.

In a statement released by Eng Wah Global, Goh was described as an illustrious entrepreneur and a pioneering film producer, who played an integral role in the cinema history of Cantonese films in Hong Kong. Not only was he among the first movie distributors to bring Hong Kong and Taiwanese stars to Singapore to promote their movies, the entrepreneur also financed several films, such as Teddy Girls, Call Girls and Hiroshima 28, all of which were all shown locally.

Earlier this year, Goh was recognised for his contribution towards our nation as a recipient of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (SCCCI) SG50 Outstanding Chinese Business Pioneers Award.

He was also highly regarded among his long-serving staff. According to 58-year-old Elsie Cheong, an administrative assistant with 34 years of service, Goh was “a very kind-hearted man who took good care of his staff and (was) always willing to help staff who were in need”.

“Mr Goh treated the staff very well, and that’s why I’ve stayed in the company and continued to work for him for more than 57 years,” said 84-year-old theatre manager-turned-despatch Cheong Kee Toh.

Catherine Sim, 44, an accounts executive with the firm for 25 years agreed. “Mr Goh was a benevolent, compassionate and thrifty man. He never displayed the airs of a boss. In fact, he was more like a fatherly figure, caring towards his staff.”

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