Sun, Dec 27, 2009
The New Paper
Sent off in his wedding best

HE may not have had much time to enjoy marital bliss.

But for his final journey, Mr Tong Kok Wai will be dressed from head to toe in his wedding finery.

"Because that was the happiest day of his life," said his wife, Madam Yenny Young, 31, an Indonesian who works as an assistant manager at a hotel here.

Mr Tong, 30, a Malaysian, will be cremated today at Mandai Crematorium. He died on Christmas Day.

Mr Tong and Madam Young got married just three weeks before a hit-and-run accident in Bukit Panjang on 15 Dec.

The accident left Mr Tong unconscious, with serious head injuries.

The car also hit two others. One was Mr Tong's friend, Mr Bong Hwee Haw, 24. The other was Muhd Haris Abu Talib, 18, an ITE (Dover) student.

Mr Tong never regained consciousness.

At the funeral at Sin Ming Drive last night, his mother, Mrs Tong Ah Mooi, told The New Paper on Sunday, in Mandarin: "During the wedding, he was constantly asking, Am I handsome?'

"He was hugging everyone. All his friends were saying congratulations." Madam Young said Mr Tong never got to see most of their wedding photographs.

The photographer, one of Madam Young's childhood friends, had to return to Indonesia the day after the registration of their marriage.

"Right after the accident, I called the photographer, and asked him to give the photographs to my brother," she said.

She received the photographs on 17 Dec, and showed the pictures to her comatose husband, describing them in detail.

The family members and friends who were there saw his right eye twitch, she said.

But the doctor told them it was normal for people who are in coma to have spasms. It did not mean he was reacting to her.

Still, his family never gave up hope.

Although Mr Tong was brain dead, Madam Young said he looked like he was recovering.

His head was less swollen, his bruises less purple, and even his sickly pallor was giving way to the normal hue of his skin.

"So many people say miracles do happen, so I was hoping for a miracle," said Madam Young.

She said health officers were supposed to remove Mr Tong's organs under the Human Organ Transplant Act (Hota) on the night of 18 Dec, after he was certified brain dead by doctors.

Mr Tong is a Singapore permanent resident and did not opt out of Hota. "We asked for time - just in case there really was a miracle," she said.

Mr Tong was kept on life support, and the deadline was extended to 25 Dec.

Madam Young said it has been a very difficult time for the family.

In Mr Tong's final days, the family would go to National University Hospital around 11am, and stay there until 1am.

Madam Young had a fever, and others suffered from headaches.

But she has accepted what happened.

"When he was alive, he was good to his family and his friends. He gave them support and everything.

"Maybe it's his fate. When he was alive, he helped people. So when he leaves this world, he also helps other people," she said, referring to his organ donation.

And this is also why she has convinced the family not to go with their original idea of scattering Mr Tong's remains in the sea.

Her father, who made the suggestion, had wanted to make things easier for her.

Mr Tong's family is in Kuala Lumpur. If the ashes were scattered in the sea, she could pray to him at any place where there's water.

If his ashes were in KL, she would have to go there to do so.

But she said: "If his ashes are thrown into the sea, he will be alone... I think he will be happier surrounded by his family."

The only memento she asked from his family is his laptop.

"There are lots of pictures of us inside," she said.

For now, she just wants to return to her hometown of Solo, Indonesia, to recuperate.

But Madam Young still wants the man responsible for the accident to explain his actions.

"I want him to apologise, and I hope the authorities can catch the driver and punish him," she said.

Message for the driver Mrs Tong, 58, a housewife, said she is still coming to terms with the fact she lost her only son.

"I still can't accept it," he said. "It has been painful every day."

She said she had a message for the man who hit him on that fateful night.

She said: "We're all very sad. We have hardly eaten. We have hardly slept. I hope (the driver) reads this, and steps forward, and gives us all an explanation.

"It was one Indonesian and one Malaysian family. We're very pitiful. All of us had to come down here after the accident. No sleep. No rest. We all had to put down our work. We want an explanation."

The accident

HIS friend was dead, but Mr Bong Hwee Haw, 24, did not want to believe it.

His family had told him his hotel colleague and fellow Malaysian, Mr Tong Kok Wai, 30, had died.

But Madam Yenny Young, Mr Tong's wife, said: "He (Mr Bong) gave me a call this afternoon. He wanted me to visit him, and bring Kok Wai."

Mr Bong is recovering in a hospital, said Madam Yeung.

The two men had been hit by a car on Bukit Panjang Road around 3.10am on 15 Dec.

The car went on to hit Muhd Haris Abu Talib, 18, an ITE (Dover) student, at the next junction, about 140m away.

The black Audi A6 was reported stolen just before 4am. It belonged to the Romanian embassy here.

It was later found abandoned at Sungei Kadut, an industrial area about 5km from where the men were hit.

Both Mr Bong and Mr Tong suffered serious head injuries and fractures. Muhd Haris suffered injuries to his leg and neck.

Since the incident was reported, two witnesses have contacted The New Paper.

Police are still investigating and no one has been arrested yet.


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