Fri, Jul 17, 2009
The New Paper
Andrew Seow helps HIV-positive friend

[Andrew with Aids-stricken friend and ex-business partner, Mr Andy Low (left).]

By Tan Kee Yun

HE LOST over $600,000 in a failed business partnership last year.

But ex-MediaCorp actor Andrew Seow is not wallowing in self-pity or misery.

In fact, the 37-year old bachelor, who became a household name in the 90s after his role as a rebellious son in local English drama Growing Up, does not rule out going into business again.

And to drive home the point that no one should let money destroy relations, he is still on good terms with his ex-business partner.

He even recently started a campaign on Facebook to help the HIV-positive man, who is a close friend.

'Money's just a material possession, it can always be earned back,' he said matter-of-factly, in an interview with The New Paper.

'The ties of family and friendship are more important; money can never surpass that.'

After leaving MediaCorp in 2007, Andrew set up a call-centre company with his friend, Mr Andy Low, doing telemarketing for credit cards.

They pumped in $1.2 million in all, with Andrew contributing his share of $600,000.

'The first few months were all right, ' he said. 'But soon, we started to find ourselves entangled in financial problems with the bank.'

Andrew explained that in order to borrow money from banks, he and his business partner had to meet a certain quota for Singaporean employees as part of local employment regulations.

'But it was so hard,' said Andrew. 'You know how Singaporeans don't like to take on call-centre jobs.'

After 1 1/2 year's struggle, Andrew and Mr Low eventually closed down the business.

A naturally optimistic outlook on life is what keeps Andrew going, despite the setback.

'When it comes to doing business, it never hurts to try,' he said with a smile.

Politely declining to reveal figures of how much he has left after the massive loss of $600,000, he joked: 'My savings are depleted, but I still have enough for rainy days and to buy my coffin!'

His entrepreneurial spirit has not completely died. He revealed plans to 'open a small shop to sell antiques and old art pieces'. But 'nothing is confirmed'.

He has been an avid collector of art and antiques for many years. The pieces from Cambodia and Thailand are among his favourites.

More time with family

The decision to leave MediaCorp more than two years ago was primarily borne out of Andrew's desire 'to spend more time with his family'.

'I looked back at the last 11 years and it hit me that I haven't been spending enough time with my mum; I missed her birthdays on a few occasions,' he said.

When he was a full-time actor with MediaCorp, he 'couldn't have Chinese New Year reunion dinners like everyone else' because of rehearsals for countdown shows.

'Once, I met my relatives and I couldn't recognise so many of my cousins!

'They were babies when I last met them. In a twinkle of an eye, they've all grown up.'

Andrew, who joined MediaCorp (then known as Television Corporation of Singapore) in 1996 after being talent-spotted by a producer in a hair salon, was part of the Five Dragons - a quintet of good-looking dudes that took its cue from Hong Kong broadcaster TVB's Five Tigers in the 1980s.

Together with fellow Dragons, including Thomas Ong and Raymond Yong, they were groomed to be the next big thing of Channel 8.

But it was Channel 5's Growing Up that gave Andrew his big break. He was honoured as Best Newcomer in 1996's Asian Television Awards for his role in the acclaimed series.

Further accolades came his way in 2004; his role as a mental patient in Channel 8 drama Man At Forty won him Best Supporting Actor at the Star Awards.

'I still keep in touch with my onscreen family, including my 'father' Lim Kay Tong' and 'mum' Wee Soon Hui.'

Though he doesn't view acting as a day job for him anymore, he 'does the occasional short film and independent projects from time to time'.

He recently went for an audition for a new local horror film. But 'I haven't got the part, so unfortunately, can't divulge the details!'

He does not rule out going back into acting actively again, as it has been, and will always be, his passion. Just not on a full-time basis like his younger MediaCorp days.

One little known fact is that he was the original choice to play the baddie character Robert Zhang in hit local series The Little Nyonya. The role later went to Malaysian actor Zzen Zhang.

'I had to turn it down due to clashing schedules,' said Andrew. 'But it feels good to know producers and directors still appreciate me.'


Andrew helps HIV-positive friend Andy with online campaign

IT'S an online campaign Andrew calls A Dollar For Andy, in aid of his Aids-stricken friend and ex-business partner, Mr Andy Low.

Late last year, Mr Low, 37, tested HIV-positive.

The news came as a double whammy to Mr Low, because he was already severely debt-ridden from his failed call-centre business.

The hefty medical bills he had to pay for his treatments took a toll on him.

Facebook group

Andrew, aware of his friend's condition, started a Facebook group to get his friends and their contacts to help Andy out financially.

'Singapore has a population of 4.2 million, if everyone could just put in a dollar for Andy, it would amount to a lot and would definitely help him tide over this difficult period,' he said.

More than $1,000 has been raised so far.

'For now, it's good enough to cover one month of Andy's medical bills,' he said with a grin. 'With time, we hope more kind souls will chip in.'

Mr Low said of Andrew's initiative: 'He is always looking out for me, giving me advice and trying to make me look on the positive side.

'I have to thank him for that.'

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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