Why Cannot? “为什么不可以”

With a heritage of six decades in the business, we are proud to share the story of Pan-United that underlines the company’s “Why cannot?” tenacity to driving long-term goals and growth.

The Youtiao Entrepreneur

Ng Kar Cheong’s first taste of entrepreneurship was in hawking youtiao (油條, yu char kuay or deep-fried dough strips) as a 10-year old in war-torn Singapore. It was 1944. His father could not find work. The eldest of eight children, Ng was forced to grow up overnight. He struck on the idea of hawking youtiao on the streets, at 3 cents a stick. It was good money. Everytime he sold out 50 sticks, he would run back to the vendor to replenish his stock of freshly-fried, hot and crispy youtiao. The enterprising child was happy that he could help feed the family.

Born into poverty in Fujian, China, Ng’s family had sailed from China to Singapore in search of a better life. The industrious and resilient young man shrewdly ferreted opportunities in the turmoil of the 1950s and post-independence Singapore.

He borrowed from his mother-in-law to buy a lorry. This was to supply sacks of cement to construction sites. But his grandmother had other ideas. The wise matriarch made him sell the vehicle. In turn, she borrowed S$3,000 to help seed a ship chandling business in 1958.

Singapore was then on the cusp of revival as an entrepot hub. More ships were coming into port. Ng’s business boomed in the 1960s.

A Singapore Pioneer

Ng felt his role was fulfilled when Pan-United Corporation Ltd was listed on the Singapore Exchange in December 1993. He retired that same year, handling over the business to his children.

Ng’s pioneering spirit of tenacity, preseverance and trustworthiness continues to live on in PanU. The strategic focus on excellent customer service remains unrelenting.

Mr Ng Kar Cheong, founder of Pan-United Corporation Ltd.

Ng’s first taste of entrepreneurship was in hawking youtiao.

Ng was forced to grow up overnight during the war. He borrowed from his mother-in-law to buy a lorry.



Over the Decades


  • Ng Kar Cheong sets up ship chandler Hiap Soon & Company with three other partners, to service ships calling at Singapore port.

Supporting the construction industry


  • Singapore attains independence. With opportunities abounding in the growing nation, Hiap Soon extends its services to the construction industry.


  • Founder Ng seizes the opportunity to provide tug and barge services to move Indonesian logs to Singapore. Pan-United Shipping Pte Ltd is created as a subsidiary of Hiap Soon to operate the vessels.


  • After the demise of one of the four Hiap Soon shareholders, the others part ways. Mr Ng takes full ownership of Pan-United Shipping as his share of Hiap Soon.


  • The Group provides shiprepair and shipbuilding services from a new shipyard in Tuas.

A new aggregates business in Indonesia


  • The Group enters the aggregate quarrying business on Karimun Island in Indonesia’s Riau Province.

Vertical integration into cement trading

United Cement Pte Ltd is formed in a 50:50 joint venture with Kedah Cement Bhd, as a vertical integration with the upstream aggregate business.

A listing in Singapore


  • Pan-United Corporation Ltd is listed on the main board of the Singapore Stock Exchange.
  • Founder Ng Kar Cheong retires from the Group.


  • Xinghua Port Group signs an MOU to acquire a waterfront site in Changshu, Jiangsu Province, China, to develop a greenfield port.

A new port business in China; the Group emerges unscathed by the Asian Financial Crisis


  • Phase 1 of the port begins operations.

Downstream into ready-mixed cement


  • Pan-United Concrete Pte Ltd begins operations, supplying ready mixed concrete in Singapore.


  • Pan-United Shipyard is demerged and listed as Pan-United Marine Ltd. The shipyard is later acquired by Dubai Drydocks World LLC and delisted in 2007.
  • United Cement becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Group.
  • Singapore’s Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, visits Changshu Xinghua Port to grace its 10th Anniversary celebrations.

The Group celebrates its 50th Anniversary


Expansion into Vietnam


  • Pan-United Concrete expands to Ho Chi Minh City, leveraging on the strong PanU brand for consistent quality and reliable service.
  • The Group becomes a joint-venture partner in PT PG, a granite quarrying business in Riau, Indonesia.

A state-of-the-art Innovation Centre


  • The Innovation Centre opens to spearhead industry leadership in concrete innovation. This sophisticated R&D facility advances PanU’s position in concrete product development using cutting-edge technologies.

Technology push with Command Centre


  • Pan-United Concrete sets up a Command Centre to integrate its operations in a technology push strategy.
  • Pan-United’s port arm, Xinghua Port Group, acquires neighbour port, Changshu Changjiang International Port (CCIP).

Market expansion to Malaysia


  • Pan-United Concrete enters Malaysia with its first concrete batching plant in Johor, Malaysia.
  • Group revenues cross the S$800-million mark.

Divestment of shipping assets


  • Divestment of tug and barge business.

Port listing in Hong Kong


  • Xinghua Port Group is demerged and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  • Pan-United subsidiary, Meridian Maplestar, integrates upstream into the production of cementitious (recycled) materials with a new ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) grinding plant in Johor, Malaysia.