Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Familial Insomnia

on November 21, 2013

I first met then former minister of state, Mr Chan Soo Sen in late 1999 or 2000. (Anaesthesia wiped out days or dates for me unfortunately)

I was then working at the Institute of Mental Health/Woodbridge Hospital and was championing the cause to de-stigmatize mental illness. Many of the donors gave anonymously but would not want to be associated with this cause.

So when I wanted to kick off  a charity golf to raise funds for the destitute mentally challenged, I was in a bind on a Guest of Honor to lead the tee off at Raffles Country Club.

Ministers I approached turned me down. I finally chanced upon Mr Chan.

Mr Chan did not think twice and immediately said yes! I was encouraged but then he said he did not play golf! Sigh! I thought there goes my feel good moment. Instead, he said to me, ” don’t worry, I will be there to tee off..it cannot be that hard and I will stick around by riding in a buggy to mingle with golfers on the green!”

That is exactly what Mr Chan did. Down to earth and practical, always with a nice wide warm smile and a good handshake.

I felt sad for him when his spouse recently passed from a rare genetic disorder that caused familial insomnia. Reading an article on how he coped before pulling the plug when she finally succumbed to it. It was her heart that gave way.

After Mr Chan’s event, I managed to elicit the support of Jardine Cycle & Carriage who donated a 40 seater bus for us to take inmates to the zoo.

Yes, I felt proud to leave the Woodbridge Endowment Fund with some pretty pennies and a bus to boot.

My 1 year stint at IMH ended when I left to join a law firm. I am happy to have made a difference to the lives of the mentally ill then and I owe it to Mr Chan Soo Sen for giving me the much needed support to get the ball rolling.

I wish Mr Chan and his family much needed comfort during this difficult time.


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