Chew on it: My Extraordinary Brother

Founder, Richard Chew

My brother Tony should have been 76 years old this month. Tragically he passed away in 2019, after suffering a massive stroke. Through his work in cyber security, Tony left an impression on the world that touched billions of people.

When my brother was in high school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, he excelled as a sportsman and scholar. He was school captain, dux of the school, and captain of the soccer team.

In his teens, he became highly accomplished in taekwondo. He then excelled in karate, after our dad introduced the martial art to Malaysia in 1966, employing numerous instructors from Japan. My father’s karate organisation, Budokan grew to have clubs all over the world with more than 25,000 members.

Tony, my dad, and my eldest son Dennan were all born with the ability to dive into whatever they’re passionate about with a 100% commitment. Unfortunately, that gene skipped me.

Our dad sent Tony to Wolaroi College in Orange as a boarder to study his HSC in 1968. Tony then completed a commerce degree at UNSW. He went on to work at Hancock and Woodward, an accountancy firm and eventually became a partner in the company. I believe he was the first Asian person to achieve this position in an Australian accountancy firm. Hancock and Woodward later became KPMG, a major global company.

After leaving KPMG, he became the Chief Auditor of the State Bank under the leadership of John O’Neill. He was retrenched when Colonial Mutual took over the bank in 1994.

Tony moved to Singapore and started work with the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He made his mark on the world when he implemented the two-factor authentication for internet banking. His work changed fraud in Singapore from zillions to zero. The two-factor system is now worldwide. I am so proud of my brother for this.

Being an intellect, Tony also taught at the National University of Singapore as an adjunct professor from 2005-2009. He lectured on computer auditing and cybersecurity.

Tony was posthumously presented with The Cybersecurity Hall of Fame Award in 2019.

His professional resume was impressive, but he was even more impressive as my brother. When I was 11, my father sent me from Malaysia to Sydney, entrusting Tony to be my guardian when he was only 21. Tony took on the responsibility with a great sense of duty and care.

I attended boarding school at Newington College, but every weekend I would stay with my brother and his wife Sue. They looked after me very well, and I always felt welcomed.

Tony was also my karate instructor. Back in Malaysia, my dad forced me to do classes. In Sydney, the greatest gift Tony gave me was the choice of whether I wanted to continue training in karate or not. Initially, I kept showing up out of obligation. But soon after, I discovered I had a love for karate. I don’t think I would have found this passion without the freedom of choice my brother gave me.

Tony encouraged me to start teaching karate when I was 14. I reluctantly agreed and he passed on one of his classes to me. I was forced to mature instantly, as all the karate students were adults. Fortunately, many of them accepted me as their instructor.

Persisting with karate turned out to be fortuitous — in 1982, I was granted citizenship after being selected to represent Australia in the World Karate Championships.

Martial arts also led me to the fitness world, as I relocated my karate school to a gym in Bondi Junction called Healthland. I became an aerobics instructor there and soon discovered my calling in the fitness industry. I acquired Healthland with my business partner Peter Stevenson in 1981 and became a business owner at the ripe old age of 21.

Fast forward to 2024, and I still love being in the fitness industry. We have an amazing team and I feel we are making a positive difference in our members’ lives.

I am eternally grateful to my brother Tony, as well as my older sister Gim. She was here studying when I came to Sydney as a child. She and Tony both took care of their little brother. I have so much love and respect for them.

My sister continues to look after me as Elixr’s Finance Director — she stops me from spending!