‘She was an inspiration to others’: Tributes pour in for woman who died in kayaking incident off Sentosa
SINGAPORE - Ms Chew Jia Tian, who died while kayaking off the coast of Sentosa on Sunday, was a soft-spoken, polite and hardworking student at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) where she earned her degree in nursing.
She was also active in alumni activities, and was an inspiration to the SIT community, said Associate Professor Elaine Siow, the programme leader for the SIT nursing, health and social sciences cluster.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Prof Siow, who is also SIT assistant provost of student experience, said: “We are deeply saddened by SIT alumnus Chew Jia Tian’s passing, and our thoughts are with her family and friends.”
She added that Ms Chew left an “indelible mark” on those who knew her.
Ms Chew, 33, went missing at sea during a kayaking expedition with three other kayakers on Sunday morning.
Her body was found off Sentosa at about 3pm on Tuesday by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
Ms Chew was also a cat-lover that made donations to projects like Toa Payoh North Cats, which helps feed stray cats.
Toa Payoh North Cats founder Rina Li said: “I started the project in November 2019, and she was one of my first supporters and donors.
“When we first requested help with food donations, Jia Tian reached out and donated a generous sum to help me out.”
Later, Ms Chew raised more money by selling soaps made by her firm Rough Beauty, with a portion of takings going towards feeding the cats, said Ms Li.
“She was a really generous, humble, and kind lady,” said Ms Li, who works as a bank officer. “Friendly, even though she didn’t know me when she first reached out to help.”
Nurse Miaw Jen, who has known Ms Chew since they studied nursing in Nanyang Polytechnic and later worked as nurses together at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, said she was “humble and helpful”.
Ms Miaw Jen, 37, said:“She was a gentle, friendly, and kind girl who was always willing to go the extra mile to help people and make things right.”
She added that even after they were no longer working together, Ms Chew always made the effort to stay in touch and they met whenever they could.
“She usually wore just a basic t-shirt and jeans - it was her plain, girl-next-door beauty that stood out.”
Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao reported in 2022 that Ms Chew founded Rough Beauty in 2014 - a boutique that specialises in making and selling natural, handcrafted bath and body products.
As a former nurse, she said she knew that frequent hand-washing could lead to dry skin, so she began paying attention to materials and production methods of skin care products, said the Lianhe Zaobao report.
In 2014, she went to Malaysia to learn soap making after encouragement from a friend, and started Rough Beauty that same year.
Founder of tour operator Kayakasia Sim Cher Huey said he spontaneously met up with Ms Chew on Saturday, after not having seen each other for over a year.
They became friends after meeting through kayaking activities five years ago, and went on a trip together in 2022 with Ms Chew’s husband and other friends.
Mr Sim said: “We talked about out trip, our past, next travel plans, and what was going on with her boutique soap business. She was like a wildflower, always eager, full of dreams and had so much to look forward to.
“I, like many of her friends, will miss her dearly.”