Victim was a devoted mum, caring daughter

Victim was a devoted mum, caring daughter
PHOTO: Facebook/Lim Siaw Chian, The Straits Times

DESPITE the pain from a C-section birth, chemist Lim Siaw Chian would express her breast milk daily for her four-month-old daughter.

"She would wake up at 6am and take both her daughter and the milk to the babysitter's on the way to work... Now that she's gone, we don't know what to (feed the infant)," said the chemist's father, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lim, in Mandarin.

His only daughter was killed in Monday's blaze at Leeden National Oxygen, a gas manufacturing firm in Tanjong Kling Road. Several explosions were heard as a fire engulfed a ground-floor laboratory.

At Ms Lim's wake in Skudai yesterday, her father, who has four other sons, recounted how he broke down when he discovered three remaining packets of breast milk in Ms Lim's fridge.

He later delivered them to his granddaughter, who is currently with her babysitter in Jurong.

"It pains me to know that her daughter will never know her mother," he said.

The 62-year-old school bus driver, who lives in Kulai, had rushed down to Jurong West, where his daughter lived with her husband and daughter, on Tuesday afternoon after his shift.

He arrived at about 7.30pm to take Ms Lim's remains back to Johor. His son-in-law had told him of the accident on Monday.

Ms Lim's husband and relatives were at the mortuary on Tuesday morning to collect her remains.

Her father-in-law, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ooi, said Ms Lim cared deeply for others. She was very worried when he took metal plates out of his leg last month. He had had a fall earlier.

"It was a minor operation but she told me to take care and when I told her not to worry, she said she could not, she cared for my leg more than she cared for her own," said the 57-year-old, who works in construction.

Mr Ooi remembers the first time he met the woman, who would later become his daughter-in-law, about 10 years ago.

"My (elder) son was very excited when he told me he found a girlfriend in university," he said in Mandarin. The couple had met when they were in University of Malaya for their undergraduate studies.

They later went to Singapore for work and did their master's degrees in the National University of Singapore. They took on Singapore citizenship to give their daughter a brighter future.

"I told him to take her on a holiday in Genting, where I was, and show her to me," he said, adding that he liked Ms Lim immediately. "She dressed very simply, in a T-shirt and jeans, and spoke to me very respectfully."

He later told his wife about Ms Lim, and the couple invited her to their place in Penang for Chinese New Year.

"We got along very well, and when they got married two years ago, I thought we had the perfect family," he said.

But the bliss was to end. On Monday, Mr Ooi received a call that would break his heart.

"When my son called to tell me about the accident, I couldn't make out what he was saying. He was crying so badly," he said. "I only heard him saying 'Siaw Chian is no more'."

Mr Ooi, his wife and his younger son then flew out of Penang on Monday night. When he reached his elder son's flat, the latter cried hysterically.

"He said life no longer held any meaning," said Mr Ooi. "He couldn't accept his wife's death."

His son had rushed to the accident site but the place had already been cordoned off.

Since the accident, his son has barely slept or ate, Mr Ooi said. "Our focus right now is on Siaw Chian's funeral preparation."

Both Mr Ooi and Mr Lim want investigations into the fire to be completed. "We want a clear explanation on why my daughter was the only one who died in the fire," said Mr Lim.

Meanwhile, Mr Ooi had urged his son to move back to Penang or Kulai where he can receive family support.

"My son said no. (Singapore) was where Siaw Chian and he built their home. He wants to live there until he dies in memory of her," said Mr Ooi.


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