Thursday, August 23, 2007

Oh, the Poor, Miserable Millionaires!

Many people have this idea that China is poor and its people are starving. If you have not spent some time there, you wouldn't know that there are lots of millionaires in the major cities of China. And many Chinese are living the good life like us.

Many of the rich Chinese who apply for Singapore Permanent Residency through its Investment scheme have high net worth of S$10 million.

This is the story of Mr Li, 51, a self-described billionaire, who has bought a S$2.4 million apartment in Singapore. He and his wife own several million-dollar apartments in China. The couple's net worth places them in the top 1 percent of families in China.

Yet each day Mr Li continues to crack his head, still striving for his next big strike. Two years ago, he lost a major bid for the construction of a US$80 million commercial building. He had spent half a year preparing for the bid. Employing extra staff and doing everything he could to secure the bid.

He's usually at his desk by 7. He typically stays awake 19 hours a day due to stress and insomnia. He travels a lot. Spending weeks in hotels. He also has lots of medical problems. Every week he has to see a Chinese Physician and take various herbal concoctions. He spends thousands of dollars on massages to relieve his tensed muscles. He's always on the look out for doctors to solve his insomnia problem. I have recommended almost all the best doctors in Singapore to him, yet the problem persists.

He seldom sees his children. They aren't close to him. And they have nothing much to say to one another when they have the occasional meal together. Mr Li keeps himself updated on his kids through me.

Several of his business friends have similar problems. Not that they are short of money, they have enough to last them for 3 generations, yet they are still actively pursuing more wealth. Even with their worth of S$10 million, they see that sum as relatively paltry.

"You're nobody here at $10 million," they said. Gosh. Where there are many people struggling to make a living daily, there are the rich who have what they need but are unhappy that they haven't got that sports car they've always wanted or the million-dollar yacht etc.

Well, the tendency to compare is not reserved for the very rich. When I was single, I never thought I would try to 'keep up with the Jones'. Later, mixing with an affluent crowd, it's hard to not get caught up in it. There's always someone with a bigger house and more branded stuff." When the comparison game starts, it never ends. Depressing, isn't it?

When money is their focus, people will never have enough.

Truly, none of us will ever have "enough." Is there a point where I will have enough things? I have reached that point now. I have all the things that I need. The few luxury items I would like, if I never get them won't make a difference in my life.


  1. Good health is the ultimate gift. Why throw it away?

  2. eastcoastlife,
    Is money actually a satisfaction or a problem? Hmm...

  3. It has become a challenge , a motivation to go on..If you keep thinking that it's enough , then there wont be any motivation left and you'll rot lor..Hubby calls it motivation , I call it addiction..haha..

  4. Kok,
    To some, it's a satisfaction...... to many, it's a problem! :)

  5. If you're busting your ass just to get money, what is it exactly that you're living for?

    I used to earn quite a bit. But i gave that up for some job satisfaction. I don't regret it and i've never looked back.

    Each day i can't wait to go to work. At the end of the day i am tired, but there's that sense of satisfaction that cannot be described...

    Money is necessary, but it isn't everything... :)

  6. eve,
    How much is enough? When then will one have enough?

    I was in this game for many years!Some people do it for their whole lifetime! It gets tiring for me after some time. It's never enough.

    Some motivation is good, getting obsessed with money is not fun! :)

  7. Agree. When you have $10, you want $1000. When you have $1000, you want $100,000. Then you want $1mil....$ never ends.

  8. Hey sauerkraut,
    It's great to be in a job that offers you satisfaction and joy. It makes one jump out of bed every morning and couldn't wait to get down to the day's work! And at times, I don't want to go home.

    I love that feeling too.....

  9. My angel,
    What do you need the Genie for!? You want a Godmother? I introduce rich men to you! kekeke......

  10. tigerfish,
    Yup. I went through that. It does feel good when you reach each level, but there is lots of blood and sweat behind it. :(

    The worse is : my health suffers.

  11. the 'culture' of today's society is, the more the better. they chase for money so hard, that they forgot what they need and what they want. they cant distinguish anymore. everyone should read 'tuesdays with morrie', i say!

  12. ehon,
    hmmm.... More is better?

    With more money, you can have more sex partners, luxury items, POWER.... little wonder why many are chasing it. :)

    People become lost when they have too much money too.

  13. I only have one financial goal.I would like to reach the point where I would earn about 60,000-100,000 Euro after tax from interest off low risk investments. Then I could work on projects purely based on job satisfaction, without having to worry about making a living and enjoying life. Anyway the next few years will be tough as I am starting a new company soon. Even though I will commit all my funds, I will still have to depend on venture capital. oh well, worst case is I´ll be 32 have 0$ on my account. As long as I am healthy all is fine. In life one has more than 1 chance.

    At the end of the day stress/unhapiness is always caused by oneself. I realized that for me I am most happy when I am either self-employed or the boss of a small company. the rest is secondary, even family at the moment (thats why I have not started one) but maybe that will change as I get older and wiser :D

  14. Captain Crunch,
    Looks like you have done some planning. :)

    Wishing you all the best in your new start up! :)

  15. ecl, yes, it's already in the bible that those who love money will never have enough. They will go for this and that and when they think that will make them happy, after a while, they are still not satisfied. It is called chasing after the wind.

    I think China has extreme wealth and poverty. The poor are very poor and the rich are filthy rich.

    I am just happy to have a roof over my head, food on my table and most of all, good health and good kids.

  16. Extreme money-chasing seems an affair that may bring one nowhere near what their heart longs for, it seems.

    Would these people want to do some charitable acts that can make a difference to people who doesn't even have money sometimes to buy a meal for the day?

  17. The quest for riches has left this man ill. What good are all the apartments and "good" things in life without love and laughter? You can't take it with you!

  18. Judy,
    Oh yes, China has extreme wealth and poverty. It is really heart-rending to see the very poor struggling each day in terrible living conditions.

    I'm trying to live with little. :)

  19. oceanskies,
    One thing these people don't do is charity. Would you believe that? I have tried speaking to them but they always change topic.

    They would rather spend tens of thousands of dollars for branded stuff, wine, travelling, cars and expensive dinners than donate that to the less fortunate. Sad.

  20. Beth,
    True, he has no lack of material comforts, but he has lost the warmth of his family and his health. I hope he won't die a lonely man.

  21. Reading your post reminded me that the pursuit of happiness means different things to different people. To me, it's health and safety for my family and friends. You included, of course! ;)

  22. east meets west kitchen,
    Oh yes, different people do have different ideas of happiness. Since I have been inconvenienced for more than a month because of my injury, I treasure my health more. :P

  23. Wealth isn't the root of happiness as you probably already know. Certainly, we need to have some money and enough to afford some simple luxuries. However, the happiest people are sometimes those who are less than middle income.

    I often envy the more junior staff in my office who seem to be happier and more happy go lucky than me. So what if one climbed up the corporate ladder? I see that senior managers are often the unhappiest people around.

  24. Poor cool insider,
    I know how occupied you are with work. It must be hard not being able to spend more time with your family. You love your son very much.

    In Singapore, it is common for the executives to be given heavy workloads and huge responsibilities. And they are not necessarily paid huge salaries for it. :)

    Junior staff usually are contented with what they have, they do look happier, having simpler needs. :)

  25. I guess being contented with our life but yet driven and motivated to learn new things, face new challenges is the way the live our life.

    Money is secondary. There are many intangible "assets" in life.

  26. Wilfrid,
    I have met quite a number of young people who gave up their high paying jobs to do voluntary work here or abroad. These people are so brave, learning how to lead a more meaningful life.

  27. Money cannot make ya happy. It can make you more miserable.

    The secret is to be happy where you are. If you think some one, some place, or some thing will make you happy then you are assured of continued misery.

    Happiness is a thought. Because that is where and who you are.

  28. This man obviously gets his value from money. He thinks if he makes lots of money then he'll be valuable. It is also a great example of how hard rich people work. Yes, there are some who inherit money and spend their life squandering it. All of the wealthy people I've ever known work hard, long hours ... I wouldn't be willing to work that hard, thus I'm not wealthy with material things the world values. I'm wealthy beyond compare with my health, my husband who loves me dearly and works to provide for us (and we are blessed that his job enables him to be home every evening for dinner and every weekend), my three healthy, beautiful boys who I get to spend all day with ... I'm wealthy with things you can't buy. I hope this gentlemen will learn why he is so valuable (as are all people in this world), and it isn't because he makes lots of money.

  29. yes i agree, when u start comparing it will never end....

    sometimes when i m FREE ( not sometimes..hahha) mind do wander around, how good if i cld have a jetsetter's life? fly here fly there , have properties in every country i fancy...

    but thats jus daydreaming of mine. I dowan to compare people with myself. it'll not go anywhere. they are not me i m not them.

  30. and, if time allows, we shld give back to the society too..

    ( i say so much but i m not really a volunteer....:P...ok la i will try ok in whichever way. )

  31. ECL, wow, what make you 'see the light'?

    The problem with human is:

    So many of them, doesn't know what they want in life.
    So, conveniently they choose money.

    When they look back, on their death bed, how they regret!

  32. Eh? How come my comment is lost? Twice already leh. Anywa, I was saying happiness is something that money can't buy, and it is the most important thing in life!

  33. Eastcoastlife,

    This really was a great read, as I enjoyed your article and the comments given by you and your readers so very much.
    The pursuit of happiness will always be the most important goal in human's life, however for different people the word "happiness" means different things. The guy you described will definitely die alone and lonely, unloved, and sick, and bitter. It's such a shame that these multi-millionaires do not only not share their wealth with the less fortunate, but do not even give love to their close family. These people should start smelling the flowers (yeah, the old cliche) and do something meaningful with their wealth.

  34. I remembered this saying from my late granny... 人比人,气死人。

  35. Eh, I am one who thinks that if you accumulate wealth with correct motivation, it will generate happiness for you.

    For example, accumulate wealth to buy house for parents n siblings, donate to orphanages, old folks homes, set up charity organisation for the less fortunate people, etc etc.

    What do you think?

  36. Captain Picard,
    Oh yes, not everyone can live the life of a millionaire. People who aspire to be millionaires should go for a course to prepare them.

  37. simple american,
    One man's meat is another man's poison. Money may mean nothing to some people but it means the world to some.

    tsk tsk tsk.... the things people would do for money.

  38. Laura,
    Oh... I see what you mean. This man is indeed valuable. He has created many jobs and fed many families. Whatever he owns, he has worked hard for it. Many people are jealous of his wealth, but he has earned it.

    I have a wonderful husband and a great son. Now I have to regain my health. :)

  39. winn,
    aiyooo.... talk so much and you are not a volunteer!? kekeke....

    Sometimes you need to have dreams, so that you have something to work towards. A little day-dreaming is ok, have a bit of fun, just dun dream too much. hehehe....

  40. yenjai,
    I work hard to get out of poverty and to provide for my son. I want to give him a good education which my parents couldn't provide me.

    Then I got lost for a moment and started to 'chase' after prosperity. When my health was affected, I realised I have lost too much.

    And I'm so glad that my son has told me, he wants to be independant and start earning his own keep to see himself through University. I hope he has less crosses to carry. :)

  41. Doreen,
    Google's server was down the night before due to the cyclone in US, so your comment wasn't captured.

    Money can't buy happiness, love, time, health........

  42. Hi Tatiana,
    Welcome. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

    These millionaires are businessmen. They would only give if they benefit greatly from it. They would agree to attend dinners if there are VIPs (like Cabinet Ministers and Superstars) and where there is wide media coverage.

    Some just outright refuse to help. They feel they had worked hard for their money. In fact, these are the ones who have robbed from the poor and their countries, not paying income taxes and bribing civil servants to get away from their national duty. Scums.

  43. lilMrsT,
    I agree with you on that. I'm actually doing something about it. Continue to read my blog for details. :)

  44. Your post came as a surprise, my friend. A few days ago, I was chatting with one of my friends about "When enough is enough for rich people". I mean, if one has a ton of money to sustain three generations, then why doesn't such people stop working and enjoy life's beauty. In the end, it all boiled down to the premise that people are competitive - their drive to succeed and make more are their sources of inspiration, even though they have more than enough for at least three generations of their family.

    I guess the thought has some merits. But then again..... :)

  45. AnitoKid,
    I guess all the wealthy and super rich in the world have the same thought. Donald Trump, Li Ka Shing, Lucio Tan - they have enough to last several generations, yet they choose to continue wheeling and dealing in the business world.

    Probably they have been working almost all their lives and they don't know how to 'smell the roses' anymore.

  46. Enough would be when there's enough to host a wedding reception, send the kids to school and retire comfortably :-)

    Alternatively... there's NEVER enough.

  47. Very good observation...and I agree that there are things money cannot buy, simple things like a hug from a family member, or up to bigger concerns like peace of mind, happiness...etc..
    I hope the man you are talking about here will realize that at the end of this journey what matters is we are surrounded by people who truly love us because of who we are to them and not of what we have.

  48. Happiness: good health, sufficient money, good spouse & happy family!

  49. I would like to know if there are any genours people who will help me and my 3 boys. I don't work because I have no choice.I really don't like asking for help, but I'm in a situation where I can't seem to get any help. My two year old was diagnois with diabetes in Dec'2007 he has not been doing well and the doctors can't seem to come to an agreement as to how you treat a 2yr baby. this I understand is a very hard task. No one seem to know where is point should be. Since he was first diagnois when I brought him home. He did not sleep for several months. People ask me don't he take little cat naps or don't he sit down, I've been ask every question imagitive. My body is so drained and out of wack, sometimes I don't know what day or month it is.Then I have to also give my other two which are 14&16yr olds who are into to sports. No matter how bad I may look or how tired I my be, all my kids I have to treat special. My oldiest son is a chronic asthmatic,so between him and the baby we live in the hospital.There has been a time that I had to take the baby to the ER because I couldn't get his numbers down. And two days later take my son to the ER, because he is having an asthmatac. I just need someone to help me.I have not gotten anything from the state that was promised to help me financially. I lost my home, because my mortgage company was in doing fraud. Taking people houses. I can't afford a lawyer. I just want some help, from somewhere please!!!!

  50. No money is ever sufficient to fill the void in the heart that only Jesus Christ can fill. We are all built with that perfectly jesus shaped hole in our lives. We can fill it with hobbies, children, family, and like this guy money. But only Jesus can truely satisfy you completely. He is the one that through abundance, and hardships can help you say that the Grace of The Almighty is sufficient.