Singapore

Cancer-stricken father gets only $5,000 so far out of $36,000 raised

Man starts crowdfunding campaign to raise donations for cancer-stricken dad of three

He said he felt compelled to help after reading a news report about a cancer-stricken father of three, Mr Goh Hoon Tiong.

So Mr Martin Lim started two online campaigns to raise money for the 44-year-old man and managed to raise more than $36,000.

But two months after the campaigns, Mr Goh has received only $5,000.

Now, members of the public who had donated freely to the campaigns - which were set up on online crowdfunding platforms GIVEasia and Indiegogo - are asking for updates on the funds raised.

They are also chasing Mr Lim to transfer the rest of the money to the cancer-stricken man.

The New Paper on Sunday wrote about Mr Goh's plight on Oct 4, following a report in Shin Min Daily News.

The report struck a chord with many readers, who sympathised with Mr Goh, especially when the single parent revealed that he had to hold two jobs to raise his young daughter and two sons.

Many netizens responded with words of encouragement when Mr Lim started his campaign. One wrote: "Stay strong Mr Goh and don't give up! Best wishes for a speedy recovery!"

A total of 170 donors donated $24,330 on GIVEasia. On US-based platform Indiegogo, 128 people donated US$8,330 (S$11,660).

The campaigns closed on Oct 13 and Oct 22 respectively.

On Mr Lim's fundraising page on GIVEasia, he said that something about Mr Goh's story made him pause.

He wrote: "Maybe it was the single parenthood or his struggle with a failed business; maybe it was his holding two jobs to desperately feed his three children. Or maybe it was how touched I was with the plight of his kids.

"Whatever the case, I decided to act in whatever little way I knew how. I turned to the Web."

There was also a note addressing concerns of whether he would give all the monies raised to Mr Goh.

Mr Lim wrote: "I've promoted this fundraiser on 2 platforms using my personal profile to my family, friends AND business associates (sic).

"My reputation is worth a heck of a lot more than what I'm trying to raise for Mr Goh.

"I'm here to help, and all of this is voluntary. The only assurance I can give is my word."

DIFFICULTIES

TNP understands that GIVEasia transferred a sum of about $23,700 - after deducting some bank charges - into Mr Lim's personal account on Oct 20, a week after he closed the campaign.

In an interview on Dec 17, Mr Lim confirmed with TNP that the monies raised had been transferred to his bank account.

But he said he faced difficulties in transferring the monies to Mr Goh.

He transferred $5,000 to Mr Goh on Monday. (See report below)

TNP also spoke to a family service centre (FSC) officer in charge of Mr Goh's case. She declined to be named.

The officer said Mr Goh informed her that by late October, he still had not received any money.

She contacted GIVEasia, who linked her to Mr Lim via e-mail.

She managed to contact Mr Lim on Nov 13 and informed him that Mr Goh had yet to receive any money.

Mr Lim told her that he had been too busy on work trips to transfer the money.

He also said he would settle the matter with Mr Goh directly.

Said the officer: "I did not want to interfere because it dealt with money, which is very sensitive. And since I was told that the money would have gone directly to Mr Goh, I thought it would be okay."

Responding to TNP's queries, GIVEasia co-founder Aseem Kumar Thakur said they were "very disappointed and concerned that there has been a delay in the funds being sent by (the) campaign organiser to Mr Goh".

He said: "While GIVEasia makes no representation about the accuracy, safety or legality of any of the campaigns or user content posted on GIVEasia, which is clearly stated upfront in GIVEasia's 'Terms of Use', our team is nevertheless committed to providing information and taking reasonable actions to help the groups that have come forward to assist Mr Goh and his family with this case."

Lawyers whom TNP spoke to said that in an instance where a crowdfunding campaign fails to deliver, donors should make a police report.

Mr Justin Tan, an associate lawyer at Trident Law, said: "If the money has not gone to where it is supposed to go, then the first course of action would be to make a police report."

Mr Tan said that donors should be discerning when it comes to such campaigns and that it should be made sure that the money goes into the intended recipient's bank account.

Another lawyer, Mr Bryan Tan from Pinsent Masons, agreed.

"Essentially, a crowdfunding campaign is like a contract and you have to adhere to the contract made to the site.

"Donors who feel that their money has not been used properly should make a police report," he said.

"It is also important to make sure the money collected goes to an individual or organisation before donating online."


I did not want to interfere because it dealt with money, which is very sensitive.

- An FSC officer

He had op to remove tumour

Since he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in May, Mr Goh Hoon Tiong, 44, has had to stop working.

He used to work two jobs - as a cleaner and dishwasher - to raise his seven-year-old daughter and sons, aged 10 and 13, on his own after the children's mother left.

Following an operation in October to remove the tumour in his oesophagus, Mr Goh is now on six months' medical leave.

He told The New Paper earlier this month: "I do not want to know how big the tumour was or what percentage was taken out.

"I only know that there is still some (of the tumour) left inside. Any further removal would be life-threatening."

He spent about two weeks in hospital and was discharged on Nov 13.

Mr Goh, who has undergone at least 26 chemotherapy treatments and four radiotherapy sessions, said he still has to go for radiotherapy sessions in the future.

When we visited him at his one-room rental flat in Lavender earlier this month, he showed us the stitches around the bottom of his right shoulder blade and on his abdomen.

He winces whenever he needs to cough, saying it is because of the pain from the surgery. He can eat only soft foods like porridge.

His mother, who is in her 70s, helped to look after the children when he was hospitalised. She also helps to prepare meals for him and the children.

But he personally saw to the back-to-school preparations for his children before he went for his surgery.

Mr Goh has been receiving financial aid since 2012. He has a monthly cash grant until end of this year, when his needs will be reassessed. He also receives help with his rent and utilities.

His children have government aid, in terms of their school and tuition fees. They also get cash grants.

Non-profit organisation The Ray of Hope Initiative aims to raise $13,730 - to buy Mr Goh beds and mattresses, and to provide him with a sum of $1,000 a month to offset his household expenses for a year - from Oct this year to September next year.

As of yesterday, the NGO has raised about $5,000 and a volunteer has been visiting Mr Goh every month to pass him his cheques.

When asked about donations given by strangers directly to him - in cash, cheque or transfers directly into his bank account - Mr Goh declined to reveal the figure.

He said: "I want to keep and save. I can't simply spend it. It needs to last for years."

'Too busy to check bank account'

His work as a business consultant involves travelling around the region for several weeks at a time.

And that is why the money has not been sent to Mr Goh Hoon Tiong, said Mr Martin Lim (above) when The New Paper spoke to him on Monday.

Asked if he knew the total amount he had raised, Mr Lim could not recall a specific figure, saying he does not check his bank account often.

"I was so busy that I did not have time to even check my bank account," he said, adding that he had gone on back-to-back work trips.

In an interview on Dec 17, Mr Lim had told TNP that he made a transfer of $5,000 - which he said is his online transaction limit - to Mr Goh's account but the transfer bounced.

He then left for a business trip and realised only later that the transaction had failed.

When he got back, "a volunteer" contacted him and gave him another bank account number, which the person said belonged to Mr Goh.

Mr Lim said he made a second transfer of $5,000 to that account some time in November, but Mr Goh said he did not receive the money.

Mr Lim said that when he started the campaigns, he did not have Mr Goh's bank account details.

"I had his address, then I figured I would just get in touch with him and get his details," he said.

He said he spoke to Mr Goh on the phone some time in late November or early December, and got his bank account details via a text message.

That was the account number he used in the first transfer of $5,000 which bounced.

On Monday, when asked about the money, Mr Lim promised he would transfer all of it "by the end of the year".

Yesterday, Mr Lim sent TNP a photo of a $5,000 transfer he made on Monday to Mr Goh's account.

Mr Goh confirmed that this sum is now in his account. He hoped that Mr Lim would keep his word and transfer the rest of the money soon.


I had his address, then I figured I would just get in touch with him and get his details.

— Mr Martin Lim, who said that when he started the campaigns, he did not have Mr Goh’s bank account details

Timeline

SEPT 22: Mr Goh Hoon Tiong's plight is reported in Shin Min Daily News.

SEPT 23: GIVEasia approaches Mr Martin Lim after seeing his Indiegogo campaign for Mr Goh.

SEPT 24: Mr Lim creates a campaign on GIVEasia.

The New Paper On Sunday, Oct 4

OCT 4: The New Paper on Sunday reports on Mr Goh's plight.

OCT 13: The GIVEasia campaign closes with $24,330 from 170 donors. According to GIVEasia, Mr Lim requests that the funds be sent to his bank account. Mr Lim updates the GIVEasia campaign page: "I've closed it and will make the arrangements to send the $ to Mr Goh by next week."

OCT 20: GIVEasia sends the money to Mr Lim.

NOV 13: An officer from a family service centre helps Mr Goh get in touch with GIVEasia.

DEC 13: GIVEasia requests that Mr Lim transfer the money by Dec 18.

DEC 17: Mr Lim tells TNP that his first transaction of $5,000 had bounced and promises to transfer the money as soon as possible.

DEC 28: He tells TNP he was given another account number and made a second transaction of $5,000 to Mr Goh some time in November. But Mr Goh says he did not receive it. Later that day, Mr Lim successfully transfers $5,000 to Mr Goh.

SingaporeCancerUncategorisedindiegogo