Chope Food for the Needy founder dies of brain cancer

Boutique owner who started Chope Food for the Needy pay-it-forward initiative dies of brain tumour

WITTY: Ms Michelle Tan (left), founder of the Chope Food for the Needy movement, with one of her daughters (right). She was a huge fan of Halloween and loved to dress up.
WITTY: Ms Michelle Tan (above), founder of the Chope Food for the Needy movement, with one of her daughters. She was a huge fan of Halloween and loved to dress up.

Once boutique owner Michelle Tan had her mind set on doing something, there was nothing that could stop her, said her husband, especially if she was told it could not be done.

One instance of this was the Chope Food for the Needy movement, which she "ran completely from her iPhone", said Mr Mark Maguire, 45, her husband of 14 years. (See report below)

Ms Tan, 43, died yesterday morning of brain cancer.

The mother of two, a former lawyer, had a strong personality, which friends and loved ones described as witty, determined and, above all, loving.

Mr Maguire, a former architect, said with a laugh: "I've never won an argument with her."

He told The New Paper that symptoms first appeared over a year ago when his wife didn't feel like herself, but was not quite sure what it was.

"She had the feeling of deja vu at least 10 times a day but the dentist, the doctor and even the gynaecologist she visited couldn't figure out what was wrong with her," he said.

It was only after a trip to visit his family in Belfast, Northern Ireland, that she had the first real sign of the seriousness of the problem.

After arriving in Belfast, she was violently ill and was in bed for two days.

On the third day, when they went out to a park, Mr Maguire noticed his wife was leaning heavily in one direction when she walked and had to be supported by a friend.

That was when his sister, a nurse, recommended she be admitted to the Accident and Emergency unit for a test. At the hospital, scans revealed a glioblastoma tumour about 9cm behind her right eye. (See report below.)

Despite her strong wish to return home for a second opinion, doctors advised against it because the increased air pressure on the plane might aggravate her condition.

She agreed to an operation to remove part of the tumour, as well as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, spending five months in the UK before she was well enough to come home.

"Even then, she told the doctors she didn't want to know exactly what she had and how long she had to live," Mr Maguire said.

This stemmed from a traumatic experience when she was 13 - she was told her father had months to live because of his kidney disease.

She did not want her daughters, Jade, 12, and Hailey, nine, to go through the same pain, especially when her elder daughter was sitting for her Primary School Leaving Examination.

"The girls knew that mummy was ill, but we were very careful not to use the C-word around them," said Mr Maguire. He said his daughters were only told that Ms Tan was dying weeks ago.

Furthermore, he added, being the tour de force that she was, not having control of the situation frightened her.

Despite another operation and more treatment back in Singapore, the tumour was back, and moving aggressively. She was in a wheelchair by April and in May, was sleeping in a hospital bed in the living room of their Sophia Road house.

Her tumour was causing a change in her behaviour, which sometimes made her lash out at those at home, including her children.

"It took her away from us... I kept telling my daughters 'this is not mummy, this is the sickness'," said Mr Maguire, adding that his girls had been brave and helpful throughout their mother's illness, giving her massages and sleeping on a sofa bed beside her during the weekends.


Mr Maguire stopped work to care for his wife, along with his mother-in-law and two domestic helpers.

Old friends also stopped by often to spend time with her, especially when her eyesight started to fail and she found it difficult to type.

Ms Nurhani Z. Shatifau, a travel consultant who was classmates with Ms Tan in Cedar Girls' Secondary School, said her friend tried to keep her wit and humour even in her final days.

"A few weeks back, she saw me wearing a leopard print headscarf and she even made a Ris Low reference and said 'boomz'," said Ms Nurhani with a laugh.

Besides Chope Food for the Needy, Ms Tan also ran vintage shop Nostalgia Queen in Sunshine Plaza.

One of her final wishes was for friends to be dressed in bright colours at her wake, and those in Halloween costumes will be rewarded with extra nuts and candy, her husband said.

A few weeks back, Michelle saw me wearing a leopard print headscarf and she even made a Ris Low reference and said 'boomz'.

- Former Cedar Girls' Secondary classmate, Ms Nurhani Z. Shatifau

Neurosurgeon: It's aggressive form of cancer

Premium content not available

Chope food for the needy

Premium content not available

I feared for my life, says elderly priest bashed by road bully

Priest recalls getting hit by 
road bully 47 years younger than him

RECOVERING: Father Adrian Anthony in hospital yesterday, where he is recovering from pneumonia.
ROAD BULLY: Dick Lim Poh Guan was jailed for seven weeks.

He showed consideration for others but was rewarded with a bashing by a road bully three times younger than him.

Even when he ended up in hospital last year after being punched and kicked by a 23-year-old man, Catholic priest Adrian Anthony, 72, said there was nothing to forgive.

When The New Paper visited him yesterday evening, he said: "I wasn't angry or revengeful.

"But I definitely feared for my life. I didn't know what else he was going to do to me."

Speaking from his bed at St Luke's Hospital, where he is recovering from pneumonia after an 11-week stay at Mount Alvernia Hospital, Father Adrian added: "I was shocked that someone so young could attack an elderly man like me."

Dick Lim Poh Guan, now 25, a provision shop owner at Bras Basah Complex, was jailed for seven weeks yesterday after pleading guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt to Father Adrian on Feb 20 last year.

One count each of theft and mischief were taken into consideration during sentencing.

The road-rage attack occurred after Father Adrian left his parish at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd at Queen Street at around 10.30pm to drive to a nearby McDonald's to "grab a hamburger for dinner".

The court heard that while he was about to turn right from Victoria Street into Middle Road, he stopped to allow pedestrians to cross at the junction despite the lights being in his favour.


Lim, who was with his wife, Madam Ao Lin, 20, became impatient and honked at Father Anthony, startling him.

After the priest drove off, Lim tailed him.

When Father Adrian parked his car at Cashin Street, off North Bridge Road, Lim stepped out of his van and knocked on the windscreen.

Father Adrian said: "He challenged me to a fight. He said if I were a man, I'd take him up on it. Why would he want that?

"I was 70, you know? I can barely move around and he wanted me to fight with him?"

When Father Adrian stepped out of the car, he wanted to take a picture of the number plate of Lim's van, but Lim snatched the phone.

"He took my phone, gave me one hard hit to my nose and then kicked me when I was on the ground," said Father Adrian.

"I couldn't believe it. After that, they (Lim and his wife) were hurling vulgarities but I didn't know what was going on any more.

"I saw stars and I was in a daze."

Father Adrian lay helpless on the ground for several minutes before a woman went to his aid.

"I don't even know who helped me, but I know I was down for a while before someone brought a cup of water from McDonald's for me," he said.

"About 20 minutes later, the ambulance came."

He did not tell many people about the incident although it bothered him that a young man was capable of such violence.

"Until now, I don't understand why or how someone can do that."

I was shocked that someone so young could attack an elderly man like me.

- Father Adrian Anthony, on the 
23-year-old man who beat him up

Road bully jailed seven weeks

Premium content not available

MOM: Slight rise in unemployment

Premium content not available

S'porean tops US military college

Premium content not available

Let Govt run public transport

Premium content not available

Full Circle Line by 2025

Premium content not available

Gold scam victims’ painful loss

Two investors left in the lurch as 
gold buy-back scheme goes wrong and investment company director is missing

FAILED INVESTMENT: Mr Chandran Nair invested $550,000 of his life savings into gold buy-back investment company Valiant Capital.
MISSING: Valiant Capital director
Mr Simon Goh Chee Kin.

Their dreams are shattered and they are feeling deep pain.

Mr Chandran Nair, 63, and another man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chye, have lost huge sums in gold buy-back investment schemes.

Mr Chye, 41, put his loss at $2.2 million while Mr Nair said he lost $550,000 of his life savings.

They are unable to contact the man behind the scheme.

These losses have caused a painful change of lifestyle for Mr Chye and a stark realisation for Mr Nair that all the decades of sacrifice to build up his nest egg has come to naught.

Here are their stories.


Up till two years ago, Mr Chye, a former IT businessman, thought nothing of splurging whenever he dined out.

He ate at top restaurants where each meal easily cost him a "three-figure sum", he said.

But after sinking a whopping $2.2 million into a gold buy-back investment scheme with Singapore-registered Valiant Capital in 2013, he is now forced to manage a fruit juice stall because it promised a more stable income, he told The New Paper (TNP) on Monday.

Investors like Mr Chye are now on shaky ground because one of the company's directors who supposedly called the shots, Mr Simon Goh Chee Kin, has gone missing. (See report below.)

Valiant Capital allegedly stopped paying monthly dividends to its investors after several months, allegedly citing slow business.

Said Mr Chye, a father of two young boys: "It's not only my money. Some of it belonged to my relatives and friends. It's all hard-earned money. It affects us a lot and our lifestyle has changed."

Mr Chye spends an average of 16 hours a day at his fruit juice stall "just to make a few thousand dollars a month''.

Although Mr Goh has stopped paying monthly dividends to Mr Chye, the latter continues to pay his backers a total of around $8,000 each month. The money comes partly from his earnings and partly from his savings.

Mr Chye said: "I had promised them the 2 per cent, so I will honour it even when it's a painful commitment for me.

"They (relatives and friends) were obviously frustrated with me when all this happened. They didn't say anything bad to me, but their unhappy faces said it all."

Still, he considers himself lucky to have a stable income despite earning "several times more" previously.

Said Mr Chye: The days of eating abalone at Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant or Crystal Jade are over. It's all simple meals at coffee shops now. And I have not gone for a holiday in the last year."


That the loss of $550,000 has hit Mr Nair badly is an understatement.

Said Mr Nair: "I inherited so much stress trying to recover what belongs to me. There were frequent misunderstandings with my wife and eldest daughter."

The retired Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) warrant officer, who previously drew a monthly salary of about $6,000, now works in the security industry.

With a monthly salary of $1,400, Mr Nair's financial situation has yet to improve.

Mr Nair, who has three daughters aged 14 to 29, said: "For 36 years, all I did was to save money.

"I didn't go drinking or take my family to lavish Indian restaurants. I could save (money) because my uniform, meals and transport were provided for by the SAF."

His misery is compounded by the fact that he lost money not once but twice to the same buy-back scheme.

Mr Nair first met Mr Goh in 2010 when the latter was a relations executive with Genneva Gold, now a defunct gold trading company that was raided by the authorities in 2012.

In Jan 27, 2010, Mr Goh allegedly sold a 1kg gold bar to Mr Nair for about $60,000.

In the next two years, to get more on his dividends, Mr Nair put into Genneva Gold a total of $374,000 or 11kg of gold.

When Genneva Gold was shut down, Mr Goh started Valiant Capital in 2013.

Said Mr Nair: "Simon said he could help recover our lost investments if we invested in Valiant Capital."

Mr Nair "pumped" a further $79,000 with Mr Goh, who became a director of Valiant Capital.

TNP understands Mr Nair had also lent Mr Goh a substantial amount of money throughout the years, according to documents signed by Mr Goh and his wife.

From July 2013 and for the next 11 months, Mr Nair received $1,500 a month.

But in July 2014, the payments stopped.

To date, attempts to recover Mr Nair's money and the gold, which had been surrendered to Valiant Capital for safe-keeping and a bigger monthly dividend, have all failed.

A cheque of $79,000 issued to Mr Nair by Valiant Capital's co-director Alvin Wee bounced in December 2014.

Mr Nair and 20 other investors have started a chat group to keep everyone abreast of the situation and of Mr Goh's possible whereabouts.

Said Mr Nair: "As a father, it's embarrassing that I have not bought any birthday presents for my daughters for the last three years.

"As a family, we now shop less and we don't celebrate any festivities. Sadly, my plan to reward the family with a car has to be put on hold."

It's not only my money. Some of it belonged to my relatives and friends. It's all hard-earned money.

- Mr Chye, who said he lost $2.2 million