Friday 18 October 2013

Goodbye, Cynthia Chew Choon Hoon

I was kind of shocked to read in the papers today that an old MediaCorp colleague has died.

The weird thing is I don't usually read the obituaries, so if I didn't happen to flip the page, I wouldn't have found out.

I didn't even know Cynthia was in Australia. I also don't know if she had left MediaCorp. I haven't seen her since I quit MediaCorp five years ago. (UPDATE: I'm told she died of lung cancer even though she didn't smoke.)

I spent my last couple of years at MediaCorp sitting opposite her cubicle. I used to enjoy using obscenities as often and as loudly as possible just to annoy her.

When I first knew her in the late 90s, I think she was directing Channel 5 dramas like Growing Up, but she later came to specialise in so-called "docu-dramas", like Exposed and Unnatural, which consist mostly of re-enactments of true stories.

Despite her conservative Christian nature, she didn't shy away from sensationalism. Much of her stuff is rated PG. Hey, anything for ratings.

She struck me as one of those low-key journeyman types at MediaCorp who stuck with what they knew and just kept churning them out. She did it long enough to be eventually promoted to vice-president.

If you watch Channel 5, I'm sure you've seen something Cynthia has produced.

I tried googling her, but could only find her name in some write-up about Crimewatch. I'm amazed some people can still leave such a minimal digital footprint in this day and age.

At least you can still watch her series Exposed, Unnatural, Cradle Of Life and Journey With Me online at xinmsn. (UPDATE: Maybe not anymore.)

Tribute to Cynthia Chew Facebook page

UPDATE: Ironically, Cynthia seems to have left a larger digital footprint in her death than when she was alive. (Partly thanks to this blog post.)

This is what her sister Patricia wrote on Facebook:
Cynthia had Adenocarcinoma of the lung that metastasized (spread) to her entire brain membrane (Carcinomatous Meningitis).

Up to her last trip to Brisbane in mid August, she was still working her usual tight schedule, as her last filming photos below testify.

In Brisbane, everything came undone though she was still talking about returning to Singapore (work was her greatest passion).

Her last week was particularly hard for all of us. During her last week, our family flew in from Hobart, Rockhampton and Singapore to be with her.

On that last Friday, us siblings, four of us, spent the night with her. We told her we were celebrating Christmas early.

In one of the rare lucid moments when she managed to find the word, a big one at that, she giggled as we recounted our childhood days, and asked, 'Are you all intoxicated?'

Below is a video of the 2 November 2013 memorial service at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Singapore. I see a few familiar faces, including Channel 5 censor David Christie and convicted maid abuser Zahara Lateef.

Below is the end of the November 24 2013 Crimewatch episode dedicated to Cynthia.