Many may not have heard of this man called Chang M. T. who used to own a big bank in Singapore and Malaysia as well as a string of hotels. He was one of my nicest passengers besides Robert Kuok, Eric Chia and many others.
I had in my 35 years as an SQ crew served Mr Chang on many occasions. He never demanded for service and was a cool, calm and composed first class passenger.
I first met Chang in 1969 when I was a leading steward. My first impression of him was excellent. Being a chairman of a big bank, he was humble,soft spoken and courteous. He never pushed the crew around like many of the CIPs (company's important passengers) did. After having served him a couple of flights over a few years, he gave me his business card with his signature on the back of the card. He told me to show that card of his to his manager should I needed financial help from his bank.
One day, I needed a small loan to start a business. Remembering what Chang told me, I proceeded to his bank and asked to see the manager Mr.Ker. The manager's secretary spoke to her boss and then asked me to wait for a little while. That "little while" turned out to be almost an hour. Not wanting to wait any longer, I handed Chang's business card to the secretary who showed it to Ker. In less than a minute, Ker came out of his office and apologized profusely to me. He showed me to his office and asked his secretary to give me a drink.
As we sat down in the comfortable chairs, Ker told me not many people has got a business card with Chang's signature on it. "You must be someone whom Mr. Chang is fond of " he told me.
" I hope so" was my reply.
On one particular flight, I remember Chang was seated in the economy class. He embarked from S'pore and since there was no first class seat available, Chang was "involuntarily downgraded" by the check-in staff.
I was the chief steward on that flight and knowing that Chang was not feeling comfortable sitting in the small economy seat, I insisted he be given the first class lounge seat. In those days, the first class lounge seats ( 4 in total) may be allocated to revenue passengers,subjected to the Captain's approval.
Chang was pleased with my action because I had given him "face".
The next time I met Chang was nearly 4 to 5 years later, also on a flight. It was on this flight that he offered me a deputy general manager post in one of the hotels he owned in Pattaya, Thailand. I couldn't accept the job as I did not have any hotel industry experience but nevertheless I was happy. In fact, Chang encouraged me to leave flying. In his own words he told me " you are getting older and flying would be tedious for you, so try and do something else".
He used to live in Bintong Park, a upmarket residential area. He once invited me to his house but I was not in Singapore and could not visit him.
Just a year later, I read in the newspaper that he had passed away in Malaysia.