We Need A Hero X SHENTONISTA: Everyday Heroes — Green Thumbs


Thike Htung Aung



Fred Perry


Fred Perry


Fred Perry


Fred Perry


Atelier LLYR


We first bumped into Htung Aung at a car repair workshop, where he was dropping off his lorry for repairs. Tracking him down again was a slightly more difficult matter; as he works in landscaping, Htung Aung is usually never at the same spot every day. Some days he’s up bright and early, ferrying plants and soil from the nursery to a site, and some days he’s attending back-to-back meetings. Originally from Myanmar, Htung Aung speaks basic English, and we find out more about his life both here and back home.


S: What do you love most about your job, and why? 

T: I used to make fishponds in my country, and I thought that was the most interesting.

S: What about here, in Singapore?

T: I do landscaping. Sometimes the management wants the plants, and we hand it over to them, and it’s nice to come back and see it flowering and doing well. That’s the only time when we have fun. Sometimes I feel confused! (laughs)

S: So how long have you been in Singapore?

T: For 6 years already.


S: Is there something you wish you could change about your job/ the nature of your work? What is the most difficult part of your job? 

T: We don’t have personal time.

S: Do you have friends here?

T: Not really, I only have friends at home, in Myanmar.

S: Do you miss Myanmar?  Do you go back to visit?

T: Yes. Every three years, I go back one time.

S: What do you miss about Myanmar?

T: My family, lah. I’m married, and my wife is in Myanmar. So yes, I miss her.

[Htung Aung peppers his speech with some Singlish, like ‘lah’, which he uses quite often. Perhaps it shows how well he’s transitioned to Singapore. He also manages to converse well with the Bangladeshi workers nearby, and it seems that he’s shared his habit of chewing betel leaves and nuts.]


S: How did you start doing what you’re doing now? 

T: Last time, I was doing driving, and I started learning landscaping.

S: Did somebody teach you?

T: My boss, my Singaporean boss.

S: How does a typical workday go for you? 

T: In the morning I meet for a discussion with my boss, about our progress, and after that I bring my workers, at least 20 of us, to go to three sites.

S: 20 of you? Three sites in one day? So you’re very busy every day?

T: Yes. (laughs)

S: Do you have to work on the weekends?

T: Yes, even Saturdays and Sundays. But I do get off days. If I get off, all work is delayed.

[Every time we called him, Htung Aung was almost always caught up in on-site meetings; he was sometimes interrupted by phone calls as we were shooting, and after the shoot, it was straight back to work for him. It seems that he’s been entrusted with a larger amount of responsibility after having worked in Singapore for quite a period of time.]


S: What’s the most unexpected, thrilling or amazing thing that has happened to you at work? 

T: Sometimes my boss and I fight, but after that, he promoted me. That’s why I was surprised! (laughs) 

S: What is one thing you’ve learnt from your job? 

T: Sometimes the site is very dangerous. Workers die. So I have to be responsible for their safety.


S: If you could work as anything at all, what would it be? Why? 

T: I liked my driving job (laughs). I used to drive a taxi.

S: Why did you like driving a taxi?

T: In my country, I was studying in university, and was driving part time. I like to drive around by myself.

S: Do you have any goals at your current job? Or what do you hope to be able to contribute to your company? 

T: Not here. I want to go back to my country and start my own landscape business.


S: How do you spend your time off work? What kind of activities/ hobbies do you enjoy? 

T: I wash my clothes (laughs). Sometimes I try to cook, or go drinking, and sleep. 

S: Do you think it is important for men to be well-groomed, and why? 

T: Yes. It’s better for men. Sometimes I can’t create my own hair(style) as well.

S: The last time we met you your hair was longer!

T: Yes, that was before Chinese New Year. I cut it for that.


S: Who is your current hero/role model, and why?

T: My father, lah. He is simple, and he always had short hair, last time. And he always wears the Myanmar dress. I want to wear the Myanmar dress too.

S: Besides your parents and wife, who are the people in your family, and what do they do? 

T: I have three younger sisters, all studying nursing.

S: Does your family support what you’re doing?

T: No. I contacted my boss myself, and he asked me to come.

S: Is your family happy that you’re here? Or do they miss you as well?

T: They ask me to come home!



Despite the moments where sometimes things were lost in translation, it’s clear to us that Htung Aung is an industrious worker who’s striving hard for his dreams. We aren’t sure how long more he’ll be in Singapore for, but it’s heartening to see that he’s making a difference at his company and with hope, he’ll bring back what he’s learnt to his hometown.

This is a Shentonista project for We Need A Hero.

Visit We Need A Hero here, and join their Facebook page here.

For more on Fred Perry, visit here.

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