Touched that dad, who died fighting Sars, is named hero

Miss Beatrice Chao was just three years old when her father, Dr Alexandre Chao, died from Sars while serving in a hospital fighting the deadly virus in 2003.
Miss Beatrice Chao was just three years old when her father, Dr Alexandre Chao, died from Sars while serving in a hospital fighting the deadly virus in 2003.PHOTOS: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES, COURTESY OF BEATRICE CHAO
Dr Chao with Beatrice when she was two years old.
Dr Chao with Beatrice when she was two years old. PHOTOS: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES, COURTESY OF BEATRICE CHAO

Student Beatrice Chao, 18, lost her dad when she was just three years old - but she has taken comfort knowing he was a hero.

Dr Alexandre Chao died from severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) while serving in a hospital fighting the deadly virus. Dr Chao, a 37-year-old Singapore General Hospital vascular surgeon, had voluntarily cut short his leave in the United States to join his colleagues to fight Sars in 2003.

Miss Chao was among 30 winners in a competition held by The Straits Times that asked participants to identify a hero in a photo and describe why the heroic act matters. They each won a pair of tickets to the National Day Parade (NDP) previews on either July 28 or Aug 4.

Miss Chao, a Public Service Commission scholarship holder bound soon for Northwestern University in Chicago, said: "When I saw my dad's photo in the newspaper, I was very moved. This is his present to me before I leave for my studies."

She was surprised and touched that people still cared about her father's story and hopes they will adopt his philosophy of always placing others before himself. Miss Chao said one of her wishes before leaving for college in September was to catch a National Day Parade.

Property agent Wong Lay Cheng, 29, also won a pair of tickets. She identified the late criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan, who died in January 2015, as a hero. She had spent almost 10 years in the legal industry before switching careers last September.

"Criminal law was one of my areas of interest, so that was how I got to know about him. He helped convicts that a lot of lawyers didn't want to represent," Ms Wong added.

She said the last time she was at an NDP was in Primary 5.

"My fondest memory of the parade was the atmosphere. Everyone was singing the National Anthem," said Ms Wong, who intends to take her grandmother with her.

Mr Shawn Chua, 39, identified as a hero Madam Noriza A. Mansor, who made headlines in October 2014 when she helped an elderly man who had soiled himself.

While others moved away, Madam Noriza, who was later named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2015, cleaned him up and bought him new shorts.

Mr Chua saw first-hand how uncomfortable it can get when his mother and auntie had to change his late grandmother's diapers.

Madam Noriza's act struck a chord with him because she was a stranger to the elderly man.

Mr Chua has already prepared his red and white outfit for the show, and is looking forward to the parade and the fireworks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2018, with the headline 'Touched that dad, who died fighting Sars, is named hero'. Print Edition | Subscribe