Tue, Jan 05, 2010
my paper
my paper reunites long-lost kin

By Kenny Chee

FOR about 10 years, full-time tutor Jean Tay and her brother, engineer Sammi Tay, lost contact with their relatives, the Tee family, after the Tays' parents died.

But thanks to an article in my paper last month about the Tay siblings moving back to the Tanjong Pagar area at the Pinnacle@Duxton, the Tays were able to reunite with their long-lost relatives.

Back in the mid-1970s, Ms Tay's father used to work in a logistics firm along Tanjong Rhu Road with his cousin and head of the Tee family, Mr C. L. Tee, now a 59-year-old financial adviser.

At the time, the Tays were living in Jalan Membina, while the Tees were living in nearby Tiong Bahru.

The Tees often visited the Tays, and they would go for zhi char (cooked food) meals at a coffee shop below the Tays' block.

Ms Tay, now 35, said that as a child, she used to play and run around with the Tees' two sons, now aged 35 and 31, at a playground near their old Jalan Membina home.

Her brother, now 42, would watch over them.

However, after the Tees moved to Clementi in 1981, and the Tays moved to Cantonment Road in 1984, both families had less contact, though the Tees would still visit the Tays regularly during Chinese New Year.

But both families lost contact with each other after Ms Tay's bedridden mother died of illness in 1998 at the age of 60, two years after her father died of cancer at the age of 58.

The Tees, who had only the telephone number of the Tays' home, had tried to call the Tay siblings at their three-room rental flat in Cantonment Road after their parents died.

But as the Tay siblings were often working and out of the house, they missed the Tees' phone calls, explained Ms Tay.

They could not afford mobile phones at the time.

"Our parents did write down the phone numbers of relatives and friends, but because many of the numbers did not have names beside them, we couldn't really figure out who the numbers belonged to," said Ms Tay.

In about 2004, the Tay siblings moved out of their flat to make way for the 50-storey condominium-styled The Pinnacle@Duxton flats, which were to be built starting from the following year.

The Tay siblings moved to Redhill and could not port over their old Cantonment Road phone number - cutting off the only contact point they had with the Tees.

But last month, Mr Tee's cousin told him about spotting the Tay siblings in a my paper article online about how Ms Tay and her brother were moving to The Pinnacle@Duxton in Cantonment Road - the area where they had lived for 20 years.

Mr Tee's wife, housewife A. B. Lim, said: "Based on the article's details on where they lived, their surname and ages, I believed we had indeed found (the Tay siblings). So I asked my younger son to check it out."

So the Tees' younger son, engineer Tee Keng Hoe, 31, contacted my paper to try to reconnect with the Tays.

And the two families finally reunited last weekend at Ms Tay's future home at the Pinnacle, making sure to exchange not just home telephone numbers, but also mobile phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Ms Tay and her brother plan to visit the Tees this Chinese New Year and she also hopes to reconnect with her relatives.

"I just added Keng Hoe on Facebook. With Facebook and the photos posted on it, I can get a sense of what's happening in the lives of my relatives and catch up on the family goings- on that I've missed out over the years," she said.


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