Prima founder 'worked hard, cared for staff'

Prima founder 'worked hard, cared for staff'

THE man who set up Singapore's first flour mill and made Prima a household name did not mind getting his hands dirty.

Colleagues at his wake, which took place earlier this week, recalled Mr Cheng Tsang Man rolling up his sleeves to carry and stack 70kg bags to show them how to lift the bags without hurting their backs. He died on Sunday, aged 97, and was cremated on Thursday.

"He would often visit the mill to make sure we could cope," said a tearful Mr Saik Ah Har, 76, who worked alongside Mr Cheng from 1963 as an electrical engineer.

"Once, when he saw workers seated on the floor eating, he ordered the technical department to build them chairs. He was a very kind man."

Mr Cheng's fourth son Primus, 65, is now chairman and chief executive of the Prima group. He said his father "worked hard from young and spent some of his youth repairing watches and bicycles to make ends meet".

The funeral at Mandai Crematorium was attended by about 300 Prima staff, dignitaries from across the globe and well-known names in the food industry such as billionaire Sam Goi, the Popiah King.

"A lot have come to pay their respects because he has made an impact on all our lives," said his former secretary of more than 20 years, Madam Lim Lek Sze, 52.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka, where Prima has operations, also sent his condolences to the family while Singapore ministers attended his wake.

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