David Cheang

A young man steps in as a guarantor for his family’s mounting bank loans, only to lose everything and end up a bankrupt when they cannot pay up. It sounds like the stuff soap operas are made of, but this is what happened to property developer David Cheang in his younger days, after the 1997 Asian financial crisis left his family in debt. “It was dreadful when the doorbell rang. There would be debtors with court orders, summons, power supply officers and HDB officers at the door as we were unable to even pay for the monthly [flat] instalments,” he recalls.

Despite those setbacks, Cheang persevered as a property agent, rising through the ranks to be appointed CEO and principal consultant at various firms. Today, he is the director of property development firm DC13 (which he founded in 2013) and carries a Dato’ title — conferred to him last year by the Sultan of Palembang, Indonesia. He was discharged from bankruptcy two years ago and is writing a book about his journey. It is slated for a year-end release. He says: “One of the most important lessons I hope to share with everyone is ‘don’t give up; believe in yourself.’”