Genting bus crash: Breaking tradition costs supervisor his life

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Factory supervisor Lai Kuan Peng usually would not leave his house unnecessarily during the Ghost month, which falls in the seventh month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

This year's seventh month runs from Aug 7 to Sept 4.

Lai, 53, believed that one was more likely to encounter vicious spirits from the underworld if they did so.

But this year, Lai and his friend Chan Ah Hua, 62, decided to "take the risk" for a day of fun in Genting Highlands on the very day of the Hungry Ghosts Festival, which ended in tragedy when both were killed in Wednesday's bus crash.

Lai's sister-in-law Chong Sooi Nyan, who claimed his body at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital yesterday, said Lai frequently went to the hill resort to gamble, but she was surprised that he did so during the Ghost month.

"He would usually park his car at the Rawang KTM station and take the train to get to the bus station. He usually doesn't inform us, but he always came home safely.

"When we didn't hear from him after three days, and after seeing pictures of his clothes in newspapers, we knew he was in the bus.

"I was surprised he was there. People usually do not go out during the Ghost month, and he would have stayed home," said Chong, 43.

Lai, who lived with his parents and a brother in Rawang, was not married and was the third child among seven siblings.

Chong said Lai's family were devastated, especially his parents as he, being the eldest son, was very close to them.

Meanwhile, only one victim from the tragedy has yet to be identified, said the police.

In photos released to the media, the person resembled an African female dressed in a black jacket and pink pants with a black belt, and wearing a pair of gold earrings.

"Twenty-nine victims have been claimed by their families.

"Eight victims have yet to be claimed, including the one that we haven't identified," said Bentong OCPD Supt Mohd Mansor Mohd Nor

Meanwhile, Bentong Hospital doctors reported that Indonesian Suriardi Budiarto, 52, was discharged on Friday evening, making him the first of the 16 survivors to be discharged.