Woman who sheltered man who set himself on fire speaks up
"Just look at the papers tomorrow."
Those were his last words to her before he walked out of the shelter that was his home for the past five years.
Madam Teo Kin Hong, 60, has been running the Elders Health Care Centre in Lorong Bachok in Geylang for many years. She provided Mr Tan Woon Teck with free food and lodging.
She did not think much of the 70-year-old's words as she had the flu that day.
"He looked more frustrated than usual and thanked me for taking good care of him," said Madam Teo.
Madam Teo, who runs Elders Health Care Centre shows Mr Tan's sleeping area (above).
"If only I wasn't feeling sick, I would have stopped him.
"I never imagined that he would do that to himself," she told The New Paper yesterday.
On Tuesday, Mr Tan set himself on fire in an open carpark at the junction of Lorong 19 Geylang and Lorong Bachok.
Witnesses said he leaned on a stationary taxi and set himself on fire with a tin of flammable liquid. They heard a boom before they saw the flames.
HOME: Madam Teo, who runs Elders Health Care Centre (above) shows Mr Tan's sleeping area. PHOTOS: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS, JONATHAN CHOO
Madam Teo said the trouble began when Mr Tan lost his job as a coffee shop assistant on May 11 after an altercation with a female co-worker.
He had helped her get a job as a coffee shop assistant at the Aljunied coffee shop but found her hard to get along with.
He found a new job at a hospital. He was supposed to start work yesterday, the day he died.
However, it was far from Geylang - an area he was comfortable with.
THE NEW PAPER, JUNE 1
Madam Teo said: "He never really went out of Geylang and was unsure how to go to work.
"He looked distressed when he asked me how to get there but I had no idea."
He never made it to work. Instead, he was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. TNP understands he suffered third-degree burns and died at 4am yesterday.
"It's such a waste that he is gone like that. I did all I could for him," said Madam Teo.
"I gave him free food and a place to stay, hoping he would just live a good life."
TNP also spoke to Mr Tan's former boss, who wanted to be known only as Mr Teo, at the coffee shop.
He declined to comment on why Mr Tan was sacked.
When told of the death, Mr Teo said he does not bother with what his workers did in their private lives.
But he did describe Mr Tan as a hardworking man.
"He came in on time every day and did his job well," said Mr Teo.
Madam Teo also knew Mr Tan to be a reserved and dedicated man.
"He was a very easy-going man and never gave me any trouble.
"To earn more money, he often worked more than he was required," she said.
His body was still with the coroner yesterday, pending police investigation and collection from any authorised next-of-kin.
TNP understands that no next-of-kin has come forward to collect the body so far.
Madam Teo is liaising with the police to settle his funeral arrangements.
She has also been in touch with undertaker Roland Tay, who has offered to provide his services for free.
Samaritans of Singapore
Singapore Association for Mental Health
Touch Counselling & Social Support
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin)
Mental Health Helpline