“What needs to be done has been done.”
This is what 69-year-old Tan Nam Seng said to his daughter, Tan Cheng Cheng, after he repeatedly stabbed and killed Cheng Cheng’s husband at Boon Tat Street on Monday, 10 July 2017.
Cheng Cheng’s husband, Spencer Tuppani, was killed exactly a week before the couple’s 13th anniversary.
By all accounts, Spencer was a “very nice” man, as described by his neighbours at Bedok South. His colleagues corroborate that seemed to lead a happy, harmonious family life with his wife and three children, aged between 6 and 10.
Professionally, Spencer seemed to have the Midas touch. At the young age of 24, Spencer became the CEO and director of transport service provider, Air Sea Consolidator before it was bought over in 2006 by his father-in-law, at which point it was renamed TNS Ocean Lines and absorbed into Nam Seng’s now 42-year-old conglomerate, TNS Group Holdings.
The acquisition gave Spencer access to funds that led him to stabilise TNS Ocean Lines. By 2014, he had increased the company’s annual turnover by 4,900% to $100 million.
Spencer’s image was further boosted when he told August Man magazine in 2014 that he sold “practically everything he owned” to keep his father-in-law’s firm afloat during the recession of 2008. That same year, he was nominated as a finalist for the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award in the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry-DBS Singapore Indian Entrepreneur Awards in 2014.
So what led Nam Seng to kill Spencer and make his daughter a widow and his grandchildren fatherless? What did Spencer do to drive Nam Seng to such an extreme?
While Spencer appeared to be an upstanding individual in the public life, he seemed to have led a double-life filled with messy extramarital liaisons and unsavoury business ventures.
Following marital difficulties in 2014, Spencer led an open extramarital affair with an older woman when his wife refused to sign divorce papers. It was revealed by the Chinese daily that Cheng Cheng herself was courted under similar circumstances when Spencer divorced his first wife.
An ardent clubbing enthusiast, Spencer also invested in a nightclub along Shenton Way, and two “flower joints” at Kim Seng Road and Great World City where men could engage in intimate relations with 30-plus hostesses, provided they pay at least $100 to buy garlands for them.
The final straw for Nam Seng may have been when Spencer sold TNS Ocean Lines, the company which saw an annual turnover of $100 million, to GKE Corporation for a mere $9 million before taking up a share in GKE.
While Nam Seng and Cheng Cheng were discharged from TNS Ocean Lines, Spencer seemed to have been rewarded by the deal which gave him a 7.05% equity position in GKE Corporation, which was valued at $130 million this year.
Nam Seng approached Spencer at the Eden Garden cafe at Boon Tat to talk about the sale of TNS Ocean Lines and his relationship with Cheng Cheng.
When Spencer defiantly refused to talk, Nam Seng exposed a 20cm knife he had been carrying and stabbed Spencer ten times in the chest before chasing him for over 100m where Spencer collapsed.
Nam Seng calmly watched over his bleeding victim, preventing bystanders to help and telling them to let “the bad guy” die.
He then called his daughter and said:
“I’ve been having a hard time sleeping at night, but now I finally killed Tuppani, I’m old and I’m not afraid of jail. What needs to be done has been done. Please don’t cry.”
Spencer passed away about an hour after reaching Singapore General Hospital.
In a statement following the death of her husband, Cheng Cheng said:
“This is a double tragedy for the family. Our family has lost a loved one and my beloved father is facing a serious charge. You cannot imagine our immense grief, but please try to understand and let us have some peace.”
Spencer’s funeral was held yesterday, 14 July. It was attended by Cheng Cheng, their children and Spencer’s mistress.
Nam Seng has been remanded at the Complex Medical Centre in Changi Prison for psychiatric evaluation.