Interview: Chang Yang Fa

I was born in Indonesia but came here when I was very young. I’ve spent most of my life in Singapore and this is where I grew up and was educated. Being a Singapore citizen, I also proudly served the country as part of the first National Service batch.
My fondest memory in Singapore is growing up during the 1960s, when life was a lot simpler. The 1960s marked a significant period in Singapore’s development and things were less expensive then. Life was also less complicated since we didn’t have mobile phones, the Internet and COE.

One of my proudest moments is the opening of the MINT Museum of Toys, where former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. George Yeo was a guest of honor.
It took my wife and I more than 10 years to secure a good site for the museum. We looked at many areas in Singapore, mostly places we’d considered to have some heritage value like Joo Chiat and Emerald Hill.
Putting the museum on the world map as a key tourist attraction like Madame Tussauds and Museum of Modern Art is one of the things on my bucket list.
There isn’t any toy that I’ll keep away from the museum. I want to share my entire collection with the public, but progressively—there are more than 50,000 toys and childhood memorabilia in it.
Every piece in my collection isimportant to me as each acquisition marks a unique experience. These toys have been gathered over a period of more than
30 years. I would be grateful if the government could give more support to unique private museums like mine. We have a part to play in the development of a child’s early years by making them aware of key historical events.
I wish I’d known 10 years ago that things would cost a lot more today. I wouldn’t have delayed certain decisions, since changes are taking place too rapidly now.
Whenever I need a burst of inspiration, I just go home. There, I can be with my family and do most of my thinking undisturbed.
If I could have lunch with anyone I wanted, it’d be my late father, who passed away when I was still studying in the UK. I didn’t get to see him before his passing and have always regretted not having been able to spend more time with him.
What I have achieved today is in part thanks to all the advice I’d received from my late brother.
The worst advice I’ve ever received came from an estate agent, who just took advantage of my ignorance. I took it as a constant reminder to be more wary when making all decisions.