Friends, colleagues pay respects to late Metro group MD

Friends and business colleagues turned out in force yesterday to pay their respects to Metro Holdings group managing director Jopie Ong Hie Koan, who died suddenly on Tuesday night.

Close friends, including property tycoon Ong Beng Sengand his wife Christina Ong, the owner of Como Hotels and Resorts, as well asMr Edmund Cheng, deputy chairman of real estate company Wing Tai Holdings, were among the mourners.

Cars lined the side of a stretch of Bishopsgate,where Mr Jopie Ong lived. The street is close to Grange Road, which leads to Tanglin Mall.

There were personnel directing traffic as guests arrived at the bungalow. They also helped direct trucks carrying large wreaths.

Mr Ong, son of Metro founder Ong Tjoe Kim, was 75.He joined Metro in 1964 and had been its group managing director since 1973. He leaves behind four children and four grandchildren.

Mr Nicky Tan, founder of nTan Corporate Advisory and a friend of the Ong family, said : "He was an astute businessman, who was also generous and thoughtful to a fault. He would wake up early on weekends, gather all his friends and get them all to load up their cars with cooking oil, rice and biscuits and go to the HDB heartland and distribute them. He was a private man who let his quiet acts speak louder than words."

Under Mr Ong's guidance, Metro was listed on the Singapore Exchange in 1973. He was instrumental in the growth and transformation of the Metro Group, from operating the retail departmental store business into a property development and investment group, Metro Holdings said in an announcement yesterday.

This transformation included developing Ngee Ann City, in a joint venture with Ngee Ann Kongsi. Mr Ong was also instrumental in pioneering the group's entry into China in the early 1990s.

Mr Lawrence Chiang, who had been appointed group chief operating officer in 2013, will serve as acting group chief executive of Metro.

The funeral will be held on Saturday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2016, with the headline 'Friends, colleagues pay respects to late Metro group MD'. Print Edition | Subscribe