'Humble, unassuming fellow without airs'

'Humble, unassuming fellow without airs'
Mr Kwek Kon Chun crashed his Porsche 911 Turbo while driving along the KL-Seremban Expressway on Sunday morning. He and his passenger, Mr Franco Toh, died on the spot. Security guards kept strangers away from Mr Kwek’s Tanglin Hill home yesterday.

Friends of the late Kwek Kon Chun remember him as a humble, unassuming fellow without airs. Someone who usually dressed simply, in T-shirt, jeans, sneakers and a cap.

The 35-year-old was the nephew of billionaire Kwek Leng Beng and owner of a stable of popular Singapore nightclubs, but he was not one to flaunt his wealth, his friends told The Straits Times.

The younger Mr Kwek was killed on Sunday morning after he lost control of his Porsche 911 Turbo and crashed into a road divider while driving along the KL-Seremban Expressway. Just hours earlier, the avid racer had won a drag race at Sepang with the same car.

His passenger, Mr Franco Toh, 43, also died on the spot. He was a photographer heavily involved in the music scene here.

Since the news of the high- speed car crash, nearly 100 condolence messages have been posted on Mr Kwek's Facebook page.

He was the son of Mr Kwek Leng Keow - managing director of Hong Realty and cousin of tycoon Kwek Leng Beng - but his friends remember him simply as KC; a car lover, an ace pool player and good nightclub host.

Mr Harry Ho, an operations manager at a car workshop Mr Kwek frequented, remembers him as the customer who rolled up his sleeves to help a mechanic change the exhaust.

"He was wearing an Audemars Piguet watch. I kept thinking, what if he scratched it, the watch is worth tens of thousands," said Mr Ho, 35.

Mr Kwek's love for cars drove him across the border, where he took part in track races regularly.

Fellow car-lover Ken Lai, 33, said Mr Kwek used to race a Nissan GTR. "People would tease him - Kwek Leng Beng's nephew driving a Japanese car, but he didn't care," said Mr Lai, a marketer. "He liked the car because it was fast."

Mr Kwek was also a familiar face at pool tournaments here.

"He was a good sportsman and down-to-earth, very few people knew about his background," said tournament organiser Shanna Ng, 40, who last saw Mr Kwek at a pool event last Thursday.

Club-goers who frequented Mr Kwek's nightclubs said he was a warm host.

"I was previously a property agent, and he would sit down and give me business advice and share with me what to do and not to," said Ms Ivy Kim, 31, a regular at Mr Kwek's nightclub Sonar.

Mr Kwek co-owned Neverland Group, which runs Sonar at Orchard Hotel, Neverland II at St James Power Station and Pixie Mansion, formerly Neverland KL, in the Malaysian capital.

In a statement yesterday, the Singapore Nightlife Business Association said: "Singapore's nightlife has just lost a very valuable contributor, and we have lost someone close to our hearts."

Mr Kwek's family issued a statement saying they were "still in shock at the untimely death" and requested privacy to grieve.

While workers set up tents for the wake at Mr Kwek's Tanglin Hill home, three security guards at the entrance of the cul-de-sac leading to the bungalow barred strangers from getting close.

Meanwhile, at Mr Toh's Bukit Batok home, all was quiet. The windows of the HDB corner unit were open, but nobody was home.

A music fan, Mr Toh used to photograph local band Electrico.

"He was always super friendly," said the band's frontman Dave Tan, 39.

"He had volunteered to shoot for us for free, too; he was a generous fellow."


This article was first published on Nov 11, 2014.
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