In 2004, a catastrophic construction accident happened when a MRT tunnel collapsed. The tunnel supposed to be part of the Circle Line and Nicoll Highway. 4 workers were killed and 3 injured. All six lanes of the Nicoll Highway were heavily damaged.
The partially built MRT was abandoned and shifted 100 meters from the original site. The Nicoll Highway MRT station is now located just few minutes’ walk from Keypoint Building (which eventually will be demolished to make way for a City Gate in 2015).
Nicoll Highway collapse hero
One of the victims was Mr. Heng Yeow Peow (then 40). Mr. Heng Yeow Peow was reportedly had selflessly helped his workers to safety but himself was trapped and died when the Nicoll Highway collapsed.
Mr. Heng Yeow Peow left behind his wife, two young children, his 70-year-old mother and nine siblings.
His children were 10 and 8 then. His wife, Mdm. Poa Beng Hong was just 35 years old.
Recently, there were more details of how the family was coping after the Nicoll Highway collapse.
From public donations alone, $630,000 was raised. This amount was not given to Mdm. Poa Beng Hong directly. Instead, Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng setup a trust fund. Initially the trust fund provided the family $2,000 every month which was equivalent to Mr. Heng Yeow Peow’s salary plus overtime. Later on the trust fund increased the amount to $2,500. The amount will be increased to $3,600 in 2015 and $4,500 in 2016 to take into account of increased expenditure due to the children’s higher education. By 2019, whatever remaining of the trust fund will be given to the family in equal share.
Separately, the family was awarded $410,000 in compensation in a civil suit for the Nicoll Highway collapse involving the three construction firm. Half of the amount is shared among the two children and is placed with the Public Trustee which provided $500 per month per child until they are of legal age.
Mr. Heng Yeow Peow’s employer also bought education (insurance) policies for his two children.
Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng – the savvy financial planner
From what I see, Mdm. Poa Beng Hong was very fortunate to have been helped by Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng. Ms. Irene Ng had the foresight to setup a trust fund after the Nicoll Highway collapse. Obviously the MP was financially savvy and knew the important of wealth preservation and estate planning. Ms. Irene Ng also knew whom to approach to have the trust deed drafted and appointed a reliable trustee to manage the trust fund. The initial regular payout of $2,000 is interesting because its intention is to replace the loss of income directly. The increased in regular payout over the years reflect the need for inflation adjustment and to take into consideration of increased expenditure when the kids grow up. The entire arrangement sounds like it was arranged by a professional financial planner. But from what I understand, MP Irene Ng does not even have any experience in financial planning.
Mdm Madam Pusparani’s financial adviser – the not so savvy financial planner
If we compared this to another case - Madam Pusparani, widow of killed Changi Airport worker. She spent $1 million worth of public donations in less than 2 years! Although she used most of it to buy 4 insurance policies for her children, her financial adviser did not place these policies into an irrevocable trust. As a result, she surrendered the policies in less than 2 years, squandered the entire amount and incurred the anger from the public.
The difference between both cases is quite interesting. MP Irene Ng does not have any finance background. In fact, she spent a large part of her career working as a journalist with Singapore Press Holding. She does not even have any financial planning qualification.
I want to stress to existing parents that your family may not be so lucky to have MP Irene Ng to help them. Whatever you left behind could be squandered by many parties – your spouse, your spouse’s new spouse, your children, your siblings and even their financial advisers could overlook certain matters resulting in the entire’s family wealth gone. Do not leave it to chance and luck.
Do not rely on anyone to do the planning for you. You should take the initiative and plan.
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