Temple medium found dead in temple, siblings claim his money is missing
He was last seen alive at a friend's home, watching Taiwanese TV drama Lee's Family Reunion on Saturday night.
The next time someone saw former temple medium Tan Poh Huat, 53, he was lying motionless in a pool of blood outside the prayer hall of Chua Chu Kang Lian Sing Keng temple in Teck Whye Lane.
His body was discovered by pest control worker Tan Kui Seng, 68, who entered the temple to unlock the gates early yesterday morning.
He saw a 2m trail of blood outside the prayer hall, which led to Mr Tan's body on the ground.
Police said they received a call at 6.59am yesterday asking for assistance at a temple in Teck Whye Lane.
Mr Tan, who was unemployed and who lived at the temple, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics at 7.09am, said a Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman.
It is believed he had sustained a head injury.
A friend of Mr Tan's said she last saw him at a Chinese New Year gathering on Saturday night at a mutual friend's flat. The flat is across the road from the temple.
She saw him leave a little after 7.30pm to buy cigarettes before heading back to the temple to turn in for the night.
"Before he left, he took out a stack of money and counted it. We thought nothing of it because that was his habit," said the woman, who declined to be identified.
"Whether at a friend's place or at the coffee shop, he would simply take out his money to count."
She said she did not know how much money he had with him on Saturday.
Mr Tan's older brother, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, 60, told reporters that his late brother's friends said he had received a sum of money amounting to about $10,000 just days before.
It was supposed to have been payment to a third party yesterday, but Mr Tan did not have any details of who had given his brother the money or whom he was supposed to have paid.
"I only found out that he had exchanged a stack of $50 notes to $1,000 at a nearby coffee shop," Mr Tan said.
His elder sister, Madam Tan Siew Huay, 63, said that her late brother, who was uneducated, had always kept his money with him and always in the pockets of his trousers.
Yet, when he was found outside the prayer hall, he was shirtless and wearing only khaki shorts.
The siblings learnt that no money was found on him.
Mr Tan's two sons were also at the temple yesterday.
Younger son Tan Junrong, 29, a diver, said he was informed of his father's death by the temple committee and rushed down from his home in Bukit Batok.
He, too, did not know how much his father had with him when he died.
"The police also asked me that," he said.
The last time he spoke to his father was on the phone a few days earlier.
"I called to wish him Happy New Year. We had wanted to meet for a meal, but we didn't set the time or date," he said.
Police have classified the case as an unnatural death and are investigating. Foul play has not been ruled out.
POOR HEALTH MADE HIM STOP WORK
When it came to his friends, Mr Tan Poh Huat was "more than generous".
"He would never say no to anyone needing help, even financially," his elder sister, Madam Tan Siew Huay, 63, told reporters.
Mr Tan, the youngest of six children, took over his father's role as temple medium more than 20 years ago.
Madam Tan said their father founded the Tianyun temple in Choa Chu Kang.
In 1992, the temple moved with three other temples to its current location in Teck Whye Lane.
It was after the elder Tan's death that her brother took over the role of "tang ki" (Hokkien for medium).
Madam Tan, who runs an egg delivery business, said her brother suffered from heart disease, diabetes and kidney failure.
"It was only in the last two to three years that he underwent dialysis," she said, displaying the large number of pills he had to take daily.
"These and the dialysis sessions made him tired and weak frequently and that affected his role as the tang ki of the temple," she said, adding that he had stopped being a medium recently due to his ill health.
Madam Tan said the siblings are busy with their own lives and are not really close.
"He was much closer to his friends living around the Teck Whye area," she said.
Madam Tan said her brother was a divorcee who had two sons, aged 32 and 29, and a daughter, aged 27.
"His elder son is someone with special needs and stays in a home. His ex-wife had custody of the two younger ones," she said.
PILLS: Madam Tan Siew Huay, Mr Tan's elder sister, showing the medication her brother had to take for his many ailments. TNP PHOTO: JUDITH TAN