MHA awards for man who rescues another from drowning and 7-11 cashier who saves customer from phone scam

Mr Willson Tang and Ms Eileen Chua were among some 52 civilians who received awards during the Home Team National Day Observance Ceremony at New Phoenix Park.
Mr Willson Tang and Ms Eileen Chua were among some 52 civilians who received awards during the Home Team National Day Observance Ceremony at New Phoenix Park.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Mr Willson Tang, 51, was on his usual morning walk around Punggol Jetty last December when someone told him an elderly man was "diving and swimming" in the sea.

But Mr Tang felt something was off as he had seen an elderly man in crutches earlier that day in the area. The freelance media consultant quickly plunged into the water to pull the man out.

"He was so heavy that I almost couldn't pull him out; it was only then I realised that I might get a massive heart attack because I was supposed to go for a heart bypass surgery," said Mr Tang, "All I could do was pray... I prayed, I asked for God to help me so I can help him."

The father of two was due for a heart bypass surgery in October last year, but had postponed it till May this year instead.

Mr Tang's timely act saved the man's life and on Thursday (Aug 1) he was presented with a Minister for Home Affairs National Day Award (Public Spiritedness).

He was among some 52 civilians who received awards during the Home Team National Day Observance Ceremony at New Phoenix Park. Another 105 Home Team officers and 15 Home Team volunteers were lauded during the annual ceremony. Awards were also given out to two teams who were involved in the review of the drug policy and the Home Affairs uniformed scheme.

Recalling the fateful day, Mr Tang said he had spoken to the elderly man at the jetty about 15 minutes before the incident. He also said that three other passers-by had jumped in to help him bring the old man back to shore.

"In such situations, I think everyone will jump down too; you just go and try to help," he said.

Like Mr Tang, Ms Eileen Chua, a 37-year-old cashier at 7-11, received the Minister for Home Affairs Public Spiritedness award. Ms Chua suspected that a customer was about to be a victim of a scam when she walked into the convenience store while on the phone and asked to purchase $2,500 worth of iTunes gift cards.

Ms Chua probed further about the purchase and concocted a story, telling the customer about a "friend" who became the victim of a phone scam.

The customer broke down in tears, and Ms Chua told her to end the call immediately.

"She asked me for help and wanted to know if anything would happen to her family in India. A third party had called her and said she had outstanding fines to pay," said Ms Chua.

"I said no, don't worry, they don't even know who you are," she added.

Ms Chua later called the police who confirmed that the customer was indeed the victim of a scam.

"I felt happy to have helped her. It's her hard-earned money after all," Ms Chua said.