Building Brunei with Singapore in mind

National 2 minutes, 53 seconds


HE IS the man behind Brunei’s major infrastructure projects for decades, but Chua Min Chu’s life will always be built around Singapore - the place he calls home.

Better known as Bobby Chua, the 78-year-old vice-chairman of construction firm Swee Sdn Bhd said Singapore will forever remain home for every Singaporean wherever they are.

Having lived in Brunei for nearly 40 years, Chua said he misses Singapore every day amid changes evident in Singapore’s transformation into a global trade city.

“I really miss local food such as chicken rice and black pepper crab. Singapore Day reminds me of home, tucking into a delicious hawker fare and hearing Singaporean accents all around,” he told The Brunei Times.

“Food is a good reminder that Singapore is truly home lah,” he said. Lah is a common expression used in Singlish, which emerged when Singapore gained its independence 50 years ago.

The businessman, who is now a Brunei permanent resident, said he often returns home once in six months, while noting that his wife and three children are happily residing in Singapore.

He hoped the city-state’s 50th National Day would bring Singaporeans closer and foster close-knit Singaporean communities around the world.

Chua has been credited with the expansion and renovation of Brunei International Airport, and the ongoing construction of mega bridges in Sungai Brunei and Temburong.

The businessman was only in his early 30s when he decided to take the leap and start his construction company in Brunei, despite not knowing what the sultanate’s market has to offer.

“When I first came to Brunei, there was only one hotel in the capital that I remember, which is the Brunei Hotel, now we have over 10,” he said.

Describing his early life as busy, he went on to say that persistence, hard work and passion were important in sustaining his business.

“Successful people feel the same boredom and same lack of motivation that everyone else feels, but what makes the difference is that successful people don’t let their emotions determine their actions”, he said.

“While it is important to be honest when operating a business, it is important to never give up and still find a way to show up at work, and to embrace the daily practice that is required to achieve goals,” he continued.

Chua said non of his three children will be following in his footsteps and taking over his business.

The vice-chairman added that he does not want to hand everything on a silver platter to his children as he believes in earning something through hard work.

Chua, who plays golf for leisure, said being a Brunei-based Singaporean for nearly 40 years has made him appreciate the little things life has to offer.

Brunei is very peaceful and calm, he said, while noting the nation’s tranquility and welcoming community.

“When you live in a small country like Brunei, you tend to overlook the little things that big nations will appreciate, just like Singapore, Brunei offers a peaceful, quiet and serene lifestyle, most importantly it makes you feel safe.

“The government looks after the people very well, and the ongoing construction and infrastructural projects reflect that. The large-scale, affordable housing projects and water supply improvements are both major initiatives, as are the ongoing flyover projects designed to ease traffic congestion,” he added. When asked whether he plans to retire soon, Chua said work is what keeps him busy and his mind sharp.

The Brunei Times