The man who was fatally stabbed on Monday in front of a lunchtime crowd in the Central Business District was known as a laudable entrepreneur who revived a dying shipping business some 10 years ago.
Mr Spencer Tuppani Shamlal Tuppani, 38, was said to have sold "practically everything he owned" to invest in TNS Ocean Lines when it was on the brink of bankruptcy during the 2008 financial crisis.
He told August Man magazine in 2014: "I even sold my watches for whatever I could get, just so that I could put it back into the company."
In 18 months, he managed to steer it back to profitability.
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Registration records for the firm, which had its office in Cecil Street, listed a former director as Tan Nam Seng.
He is understood to be Mr Tuppani's father-in-law as well as the man who attacked him on Monday.
The police have classified the case as murder.
Spencer was very nice. He would say, 'Hi aunty', whenever he saw me. He said 'hi' to me just two days ago.
NEIGHBOUR MRS YONG
On the surface, they were a very happy family. They lived together. How can something like this happen?
Mr Tuppani was said to have been stabbed at a coffee shop at the junction of Boon Tat Street and Telok Ayer Street, but he collapsed outside another eatery about 70m away, in front of horrified onlookers.
As he lay dying, the older man stood over him and allegedly prevented at least one witness from helping him.
Neighbours yesterday described a family that seemed harmonious and happy on the surface.
According to his next-door neighbour, Mr Tuppani lived in Sennett Lane with seven people: His wife, two daughters and a son, his mother, a maid and his 69-year-old father-in-law.
"Spencer was very nice. He would say, 'Hi, aunty', whenever he saw me. He said 'hi' to me just two days ago," said the neighbour, who would identify herself only as Mrs Yong.
The family moved into the private estate in Bedok South about three to four years ago, she said.
Since the stabbing, however, anonymous "family friends" have reportedly pointed to problems in his marriage and money-related disputes with his father-in-law over TNS Ocean Lines.
According to media reports, Mr Tuppani joined the firm in 2003 and was its chief executive officer and director.
A source in the industry who did not want to be named said Mr Tuppani spoke Hokkien and Mandarin, and was in the industry for years.
According to August Man, the firm had a turnover of $2 million in 2003 when Mr Tuppani joined, but by 2014, its turnover had exceeded $100 million.
Mr Tuppani's achievements earned him a nomination as a finalist for the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award in the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry-DBS Singapore Indian Entrepreneur Awards in 2014.
Last year, logistics firm GKE Corporation acquired TNS Ocean Lines for $9 million. A GKE Corporation spokesman said it was unable to comment as investigations were ongoing.
A TNS Ocean Lines spokesman told The Straits Times: "It is all in the papers - there is nothing much to comment on."
Business weekly The Edge Singapore reported last year that Mr Tuppani was TNS Ocean Lines' largest shareholder, owning just over half of the company. There were four other shareholders: Tan Cheng Cheng, Tan Meng Chuan, Sern Chia Lung and Tan Nam Seng.
Another next-door neighbour, who declined to be named, said: "On the surface, they were a very happy family. They lived together. How can something like this happen?"