Still waiting for hubby to come home

Still waiting for hubby to come home

In her mind, her husband has gone overseas to work and has not returned home.

But the truth is that he had vanished together with the aircraft he was on 21 years ago in Aceh, Indonesia.

Some wreckage was reportedly found in 2010 but it was never officially confirmed if it was the same aircraft.

Shanghai-born Madam Li Yan Min, 53, harbours hope that one day, she will read in the newspapers about her husband being found.

It doesn't matter even if he has a wife and children in tow, she said.

She told The New Paper on Sunday in Mandarin: "As long as he is leading a good life, that's what matters."

Her husband, Mr Lim Fung Wooi, then 37, was on board the SC-7 Skyvan owned by Pan Malaysian Air Transport when it slipped off radar screens 30 minutes after departing from Medan's Polonia Airport in Indonesia on Jan 30, 1993. It was en route to Banda Aceh. The details of how the aircraft disappeared without a trace are eerily similar to how Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on March 8.

The Boeing 777, which was en route to Beijing, China, lost contact with air traffic controllers about 50 minutes after taking off from Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport .

Family members of passengers on board both aircraft experienced the same roller coaster of emotions. Their hopes were raised when suspected debris was found, only to be dashed when it turned out to be a false lead.

The search and rescue operations for the missing Skyvan by the authorities and family members were on and off for almost a year to no avail, before it was called off for good.

And the waiting game can be torturous.

Madam Li knows that painful feeling too well.

When she read about the missing jet, her heart went out to the family members of the 239 people on board MH370.

She says: "I pray for them - praying for a miracle that the plane can be found. They are someone's family members, friends, parents and siblings. I believe they are going through what I had been through."

The days following the news about her missing husband was a dark period she would not want to revisit.

She had then just given birth to her third child, a girl, a day before.

Madam Li says: "Then, my tears flowed and flowed, as though I was washing my face with tears.

"It was a feeling that is very hard to describe. You would not understand how it feels like unless it happens to you."

But life has to go on, she says.

"I have three kids. I cannot neglect them just because my husband is missing. They still need to be fed and to be looked after."

Her two other daughters were then aged three and four. Her parents had moved to the US and she relied on her in-laws for support.

She says: "When my husband was still around, I had everything. I stayed in a semi-detached house, I had a car, a maid and my daughters could play on the swing in the garden."

Madam Li was a housewife and depended on her marine surveyor husband financially.

She says: "Suddenly, I had to be independent, with three mouths to feed. Everything changed."

The landed property and car were sold and she moved into an HDB flat in Pasir Ris.

She also became a teacher, a job that she is still doing today.

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