'He doesn't owe the Government money'

'He doesn't owe the Government money'
MOVED TO HELP: Mr Chen (left) meeting Mr Tan on Tuesday. Mr Chen has launched a campaign on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site, to help Mr Tan. The amount raised so far is at least $50,000.

All he wanted was "someone from the Government" to tell him that he is not in debt to the Government.

Cleaner Tan Soy Kiang, 70, got that assurance on Tuesday night, from his MP, Hri Kumar Nair.

Mr Tan and his niece, Pamela Lim, 39, had gone to Block 122 Toa Payoh, where Mr Hri Kumar, an MP for the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, was holding his Meet-the-People session.

They were there to seek his help in getting Mr Tan subsidised rates for his mental evaluation.

"Upon my request, Mr Hri Kumar told my uncle he doesn't owe the Government money. He also said for him not to give anyone cash. My uncle just smiled and nodded," Ms Lim told The New Paper.

Mr Tan had allegedly given more than $400,000 to two Singaporean women over the last 15 years after they told him the money was for a "debt" he owed the Government.

One of the two women has been arrested. The other is assisting the police with investigations.

While one of the women admitted to cheating him, the other maintained her innocence and claimed she, too, had been conned.

Mr Tan's plight was first reported in The New Paper on Sunday.

The elderly man's niece, Ms Lim, said she recounted the whole story to Mr Hri Kumar, who listened intently.

When he asked why she cared so much for her uncle, she could not help but get teary.

"I felt so sorry for being away for 15 years, only to return to find out he had suffered all this time," she said.

Ms Lim was living and working in Melbourne, Australia, for the past 15 years and Mr Tan, a bachelor, was living alone after the death of his father in 1991.

Other than his MP, he also got to meet Dan Chen on Tuesday.

Mr Chen, 28, who works in an international school, had started a campaign on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site, to raise money to help him.

Mr Tan had to hold two jobs as a cleaner and petrol pump attendant to repay the debt he thought he owed.

SHOCK

"I was both shocked and angry when I read the news in The New Paper on Sunday. Then I saw on Facebook that people wished to help, but no one stepped forward," Mr Chen said.

He took the initiative and launched the campaign on Indiegogo, with a target of US$5,000 (S$6,800) so others could help.

"But it has a life of its own and grew so fast. There were even donors from as far as Hong Kong, Australia and the United States. There are a lot of kind people, both here and overseas," he said.

As of last night, the amount raised was $52,000.

Mr Chen visited Mr Tan at his niece's home in Jalan Gembira, off MacPherson, to find out how the money could be used.

When asked how he felt about raising so much in so short a time, he said: "It's not about me. It's about Mr Tan. About helping someone who was cheated of his hard-earned money."

This article by The New Paper was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

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