Goh Eng Wah
Comments on article: InfopediaTalkGoh Eng Wah (b. 1923, Muar, Johor, Malaya - ) is one of the pioneers in Singapore's film industry. He founded Eng Wah Organization, a major film distributor and cinema operator specialising in screening Chinese movies from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Goh was born in 1923 in Muar, Johor. He is the eldest son in his family and has five elder sisters and a younger brother. His father, a rubber trader, passed away when he was eleven years old. After completing secondary school education, he wanted to further his studies in China. Unfortunately, he had to hold back his plan because of the Japanese Occupation. In 1942, he heard rumours that the Japanese were arresting students. At the age of 18, he fled to Singapore to live with his sister and wait until the war was over.
In 1945, Goh and a friend started a cinema, the Victory Theatre, in Happy World Amusement Park (later known as Gay World). The cinema became popular with the locals even though it was screening Japanese propaganda flicks. This encouraged him to continue the business despite his original intention to further his studies in China after the war. Subsequently, Goh and his friend acquired a neighbouring cinema called the Happy Theatre. Two years later Mr Goh became the sole owner of these cinemas when his friend left the business after losing interest in it. As his cinema business grew, he acquired more theatres. In 1968, he established Eng Wah Theatres Organization Pte Ltd.
During the 1960s, his cinemas became popular for screening the latest Chinese films in Singapore. He also ventured into film production and received several Asian Film Festival awards for films that he financed, such as "Teddy Girls" and "Hiroshima 28". These films were produced in Hong Kong and screened in Singapore. In 1966, he bought Jubilee Theatre (now Jubilee Hall in Raffles Hotel). Two years later, he acquired another cinema located at Tiong Bahru called King's Theatre. On 24 July 1968, Eng Wah Theatres Organization Pte Ltd was incorporated.
In the 1970s, he started to screen Taiwanese films as Hong Kong films started to lose their edge over movie-goers here. He was also among the first film distributors to bring in Hong Kong and Taiwanese stars such as Josephine Siu Fong Fong and Ivy Ling Po to promote movies in Singapore. In 1972, he created another milestone by opening a cinema in the heartland of Singapore located at Toa Payoh. The Toa Payoh Theatre was one of his first cinemas to be operated in a Housing and Development Board (HDB) estate. By the mid-1970s, the ageing Goh began to transfer his business to his four children.
Before the 1980s, Goh's cinemas only showed Chinese films. English films started to be screened at his cinemas only during late 1980s. The reason for this change was the need to meet the demands of younger movie-goers who were much more interested in Hollywood films than Chinese films. By 1988, Eng Wah Organization had opened five more cinemas located at Toa Payoh, Kallang Bahru, Clementi, Ang Mo Kio and Marina.
Eng Wah Organization became a public listed company on 4 July 1994. It now operates six cinemas, with a total of 29 screens. They are Eng Wah Suntec City, Eng Wah Jubilee (Ang Mo Kio), Eng Wah Toa Payoh, Eng Wah West Mall (Bukit Batok), Eng Wah Empress (Clementi) and Eng Wah Sun Plaza (Sembawang). The company's daily operations are now managed by Goh's four children, who are all executive directors of the company. However, Goh still keeps an eye on the company. He is the chairman of the company and goes to his office located at Orchard Tower daily. Goh's philosophy in life is "Nothing comes free and easy."
Wife: Mok Yuet Heng.
Sons: Goh Keng Beng, James, is in-charge of business development in Eng Wah Organization; Goh Keng Soon, Bob, is in charge of Eng Wah's film operations.
Daughters: Goh Min Lu, Cynthia, is Eng Wah's executive director; Goh Min Yen is Eng Wah Organization's managing director.
Heirwin Mohd Nasir
He, K. (2002, October 2). Eng Wah goes places. The Straits Times, Life!, p. 3.
Loh, S. (1994, June 12). The David who fought Goliaths. The Sunday Times, Sunday Plus, p. 24.
Long, S. (1997, May 25). Have to work hard. Got no choice. The Sunday Times, Sunday Plus, p. 20.
Eng Wah Organization. (2000). About Eng Wah. Retrieved December 3, 2002, from www.ewcinemas.com.sg/about_overview.htm
The information in this article is valid as at 2002 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Motion pictures-- Singapore
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