PETALING JAYA: Property and business mogul Tan Sri Dr Teo Soo Cheng never celebrates his birthday and is not too keen on big parties. Tonight, however, he will make an exception as it marks 60 years of marriage to his wife Puan Sri Cheng Gek Hong.
About 1,300 relatives and friends have been invited to celebrate the special occasion at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre.
“It is true that I don't celebrate my birthday because my mother never encouraged it. But I always insist on my wife celebrating her birthday, and often we hold a family dinner.
“While we celebrated our silver anniversary and 50th anniversary on quite a large scale, this is bigger. I'm very happy about it,” said the 78-year-old See Hoy Chan Holdings Group executive chairman cheerfully.
He said they were prudent in their spending as they came from hard beginnings.
“I am a simple man. Besides, you don't need to splurge unnecessarily,” he added.
Teo and Cheng were both 18 when they exchanged photographs through a friend.
Both came to Malaysia from Chow Yang in Teochew province at the age of 12.
“I was in Kuala Lumpur and she in Ipoh. After my friend showed me her photo, I sent mine to her. Then our parents arranged for us to marry. We did it after about three months. We didn't know each other before that,” he said. They married on Jan 15, 1943.
At the time, Teo sold chicken and duck eggs at the Central Market in Kuala Lumpur.
He later helped in his father's expanding wholesale business.
Although it was during the Japanese Occupation, Cheng said the situation was not dangerous and they stayed on the upper floor of the family shop.
Their family business successes included housing development projects like Paramount Garden, Taman Bahagia, Damansara Utama and Damansara Jaya in Petaling Jaya, Berkeley Gardens in Klang and Petani Jaya in Sungai Petani, Kedah.
The group was also responsible for the Bandar Utama township here.
Throughout their married life, Teo was the breadwinner while Cheng stayed home to raise their seven children and run the household.
“Maybe that was the secret. Our roles were very clear even until today. We never fought because he was away on business most of the time. Who was I to fight with?” quipped Cheng.
“Marriage in the old days always lasted. He still works today, otherwise the day doesn't pass for him,” she laughed.
Regardless of their own successes, the couple's pride and joy are their children, who are also successful in their own right.
Did you find this article insightful?