Former national shooter's death 'a big loss to sports'

Mr Chng Seng Mok died at the age of 65 yesterday of pancreatic cancer. He leaves behind daughters Charlene and Stephanie.
Mr Chng Seng Mok died at the age of 65 yesterday of pancreatic cancer. He leaves behind daughters Charlene and Stephanie.ST FILE PHOTO

Friends remember Mr Chng Seng Mok as a fighter, an inspirational and unflappable figure who aimed high both in business and in sport.

Even as the managing director of Poh Heng Jewellery and former national trap shooter battled pancreatic cancer, he kept his struggles private and was his usual jovial self at public gatherings.

Mr Chng died yesterday of cancer at the age of 65, leaving behind daughters Charlene and Stephanie.

Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) president Michael Vaz said: "I saw him just over a month ago at Singapore Island Country Club. He had just finished playing golf. We were having drinks and he congratulated me on our SEA Games performance.

"I found out he had an operation only last month."

Former national teammate Lee Wung Yew said: "I'm still in a blur. We met at a friend's wedding a few months back, and he was his usual chatty self, making jokes about us."

 

An emotional Mr Vaz added: "He was a good man, a mentor, and he helped stabilise the sport in Singapore. We will definitely be doing something to honour his memory."

Mr Chng is also remembered for growing Poh Heng, a silver and goldsmith shop founded by his father Chng Tok Ngam in 1948, into a booming 16-outlet enterprise.

In 2008, it was reported that, aside from the economic downturn in 2002, Poh Heng grew between 10 and 20 per cent each year.

The company was unavailable for comment yesterday.

While he made his name dealing in jewellery, Mr Chng also harvested gold and silver in competitive shooting. He won seven golds and two silvers over five SEA Games between 1989 and 2001, although his most noteworthy achievement came at the 1990 Asian Games, when he clinched a bronze in the individual trap event.

It was also the first Asiad medal won by a Singaporean shotgun shooter. Incredibly, Mr Chng had picked up the sport only in 1987.

He was crowned Sportsman of the Year in 1991 for his historic effort, and would add a team trap bronze at the 1998 Asiad.

Mr Chng was also SSA president from 2004 to 2012. International Olympic Committee member Ng Ser Miang said he remembers Mr Chng telling a reporter that he would "at most, have a beer" after his shooters won a record five golds, four silvers and five bronzes at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Mr Ng said: "This is classic Seng Mok, a man who built shooting to where it is and relentlessly pushed our athletes to the ultimate dream, competing at the Olympics.

"His passing is a big loss to sports."

Mr Chng's wake starts from 3pm today at Cherish Hall at Mount Vernon Sanctuary.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 27, 2015, with the headline 'Former national shooter's death 'a big loss to sports''. Print Edition | Subscribe