Students injured in quake pay last respects to get closure

Students injured in quake pay last respects to get closure
Emyr Uzayr (with bandage) and El Wafeeq El Jauzy (in wheelchair), survivors of the Sabah earthquake, at the Tribute Corner at Tanjong Katong Primary School with their families, to pay their last respects to the friends and teachers who died in the earthquake at Mount Kinabalu in Sabah.
PHOTO: NP

They are not celebrities, but the arrival of the two boys in the heavy rain drew a standing ovation from the crowd at Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) yesterday.

They have not been discharged from KK Women's and Children's Hospital. Yet, El Wafeeq El Jauzy and Emyr Uzayr, both 12, insisted on going to school.

El Wafeeq was on a wheelchair, while Emyr had a bandage around his head.

The young survivors of the Sabah earthquake felt compelled to pay their last respects yesterday to their friends and teachers who lost their lives, as it was the last day of the school's memorial.

When they arrived at the Tribute Corner in the school canteen at around 3pm, the crowd stood and cheered for the boys.

Said El Wafeeq's father, who did not want to be named: "The kids wanted to visit the school to get closure of the entire episode."

This was also echoed by Emyr's father, Mr Sadri Farick, 37.

He said: "The heavy rain did not stop the boys. They loved those who had died and wanted to pay tribute."

The boys spent a few minutes reading tributes that had been written by others before they were escorted to another room where they spent some time with their schoolmates.

Mr Sadri said Emyr wanted to be in school with his friends, some of whom also survived the quake. He said they have played an important role in his recovery at the hospital.

"They would always (visit him) there and talk about the things they are going to do after Emyr recovers - play football, go for excursions," Mr Sadri said.

"They are a close-knit bunch."

Mr Sadri said he was distraught when he first heard about last Friday's earthquake.

He said Emyr's teacher, Mr Mohamed Faizal Abdul Salam, had pulled the boy to take cover behind a bush while boulders were falling near Emyr and his schoolmates.

Emyr then felt a sharp pain on his head. Something had hit him from behind.

Mr Sadri said: "He did not know what hit him, but he saw blood dripping from his head onto his sleeves."

Despite sustaining a fractured skull, Emyr ran 7km down Mount Kinabalu, together with his friend and teacher, to safety.

SURVIVOR

Mr Sadri could not believe that his son had braved the pain but added that Emyr possessed a never-say-die attitude.

"He told me he needed to survive," he said.

Mr Sadri was also grateful for Mr Faizal's selfless and heroic act, saying: "He saved my boy's life."

After the accident, Emyr has grown stronger, said Mr Sadri.

"He has become so much more mature after the near-death experience."

And even though he is recovering well, Mr Sadri said Emyr still sees flashbacks of the accident when he closes his eyes.

"I told Emyr to speak up and not bottle up his feelings," he said.

Mr Sadri also hopes that his son will be able to tide through this difficult time with support from his friends.

He said: "We will push him on. And for him, living with this experience will make him stronger."

Farewell to Peony and Rachel

She was named after China's national flower - Peony.

Yesterday, the little girl from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) who brought joy to the lives of those who knew her just like her namesake, was cremated.

Peony Wee Ying Ping, 12, was among the 10 Singaporeans who were killed in the Sabah earthquake on Friday.

Peony's father, machine operator Alson Wee, 51, described her as an active girl who played netball and enjoyed wonton noodles. She also often helped out at her mother Luo Jin's traditional medicine clinic.

An emotional Ms Luo, 43, had to be supported by relatives as her daughter's coffin was rolled into a white van.

Neither of her parents were seen at her cremation, held at the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery at Bright Hill Road.

Peony's 14-year-old brother, Chester, took part in Buddhist rites before her cremation.

The cremation for Peony's TKPS schoolmate, Rachel Ho, 12, also took place yesterday.

Her father, Mr James Ho, said her death had brought the family together and that it had taught the family and the nation how to love.

More than 80 relatives and friends attended the cremation at Tse Tho Aum Temple at Sin Ming Drive.

LASTING MEMORIES

In an eulogy delivered shortly after the last rites were performed, Mr Ho, who works in a bank, said: "You've left behind many beautiful and lasting memories that we will always cherish. Your smile, laughter and kisses will always stay with us."

Mr Ho, 45, who had initially worn a solemn expression, struggled to hold back tears during the two-minute eulogy.

Among those who bade Rachel a tearful farewell were her mother, Ms Peh Lay Ling, as well as her brothers, Ryan, 15, and Raphael, 7.

"Thank you, Rachel. We love you, our little angel," said Mr Ho, before breaking down at the end of his eulogy.

TKPS principal Caroline Wu was at both cremations, as well as some of the pupils who were on the Mount Kinabalu trip. - ST Online


This article was first published on June 12, 2015.
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