Sim Wong Hoo appeared to be in good health and ran marathons, say friends at wake of Creative founder
Outside the Garden of Remembrance memorial hall, flowers were lined up from tech firm founders like Razer’s Tan Min-Liang, Singapore companies including Challenger and Osim, as well as arts organisations like the Kuo Pao Kun Foundation.
SINGAPORE: The death of tech pioneer Sim Wong Hoo came as a shock as he seemed to be in good health, according to friends who attended his wake on Thursday night (Jan 5).
More than 100 people turned up to pay their last respects to the Creative Technology founder and CEO at the Garden of Remembrance.
Mr Sim died on Wednesday at the age of 67. In 1981, he founded Creative, which is best known for its Sound Blaster sound cards. The company designs, manufactures and distributes digital entertainment products worldwide.
Outside the memorial hall, flowers were lined up from tech firm founders like Razer’s Tan Min-Liang, Singapore companies including Challenger and Osim, as well as arts organisations like the Kuo Pao Kun Foundation.
Prominently displayed was a photo of Mr Sim completing a marathon.
Mr Leow Siew Kiat, 58, a former employee, said that he was surprised to hear the news of Mr Sim's death, as he seemed healthy and even ran marathons.
Mr Leow, who joined Creative in 1994 and worked there for a total of 12 years, said he twice left the company but returned each time because Creative was like "home", before finally leaving for a third time.
He also said that Mr Sim drove the employees hard, but also cared a lot about them and had no airs.
Mr Leow remembered how Mr Sim would buy durian for the staff and eat along with them. He also shared that Mr Sim would pass around a bag filled with generous red packets during Chinese New Year and let the staff “pick their own ang pao”.
In its heyday, Mr Sim and Creative gave a generation of Singaporeans “confidence”, “exposure” and a chance to “stand up” on the world stage, he said.
Ms Chew and Ms Lim, his secondary school classmates from Bukit Panjang Government High School, also said that Mr Sim seemed to be in good health, and was "shocked and sad" when they heard the news.
Interviewees said that they did not know the cause of his death, but one close friend said he was found dead unexpectedly.
Ms Lim, who did not disclose her full name, said she had met Mr Sim last Saturday by chance while out walking, and they had just gathered in October at the wake of another friend. The close friends still met up at past Chinese New Years, they said.
"MODEST AND HUMBLE"
"He’s very modest and humble … very generous to his friends," said Ms Chew, who also did not reveal her full name.
According to media reports, Mr Sim had been drawing a nominal annual salary of S$1 for a number of years and lived a simple life.
A 2019 interview with Yahoo Finance revealed his hobbies included playing the harmonica to writing Chinese novels.
He had written six books but stopped doing so in 2005 to focus on Creative.
Professor Kwok Kian Woon, the vice-chancellor of the University of the Arts Singapore, said he had known Mr Sim since the early 2000s, calling him a "most exceptional man".
He said that Mr Sim's passion for the arts was perhaps not as well known as his achievements in tech, but he had provided “very significant support” for the arts, in particular for the work of the late Kuo and for theatre training.
“What others think may well be impossible, he would think possible,” said Prof Kwok.
A MUSIC LOVER
Ms Lim Sau Hoong, a stalwart of the advertising industry, said that Mr Sim loved music and had taught himself how to play the piano. He also played the accordion and used to organise music and cultural activities at Creative, she said.
They started as business partners and had become friends over the years, Ms Lim said, adding that Mr Sim had given her and her company 10AM Communications both financial and moral support.
“If you get to know him, he’s actually an introvert, but as a company leader, he was forced to speak in public and face the media,” she said in Mandarin.
He still had many dreams to fulfil, and he wanted to contribute more to the world of sound and tech, she said.
“It’s a pity … I was so shocked when I heard the news, even now I can’t believe it,” she said.