Missing MH370: SilkAir MI185 widow offers to comfort families of victims

Missing MH370: SilkAir MI185 widow offers to comfort families of victims

She lost her husband almost 17 years ago, under similar circumstances.

His body has never been found.

SilkAir Flight MI185 widow Susan Chee, 56, has been through what most could never imagine - and not want to experience.

She knows what it is like to wait. And wait with no closure.

Now she wants to help family members of those who were on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which went missing last Saturday.

She is willing to travel to Kuala Lumpur, where the Malaysian crisis management team is based, and where family members are gathering.

The drama, which began early on Saturday morning when airport authorities lost contact with the Beijing-bound flight just 50 minutes into its journey, is into its fourth day with no word on the location of the plane.

It had left Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41am carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members. It was slated to arrive in Beijing at 6.30am.

Madam Chee's personal heartache began on Dec 19, 1997, when SilkAir MI185 crashed into the Musi River in Palembang, Indonesia, with 104 people on board.

Among them was her husband Tan Choon Yeow, 46, a financial controller.

No bodies were recovered and the cause of the crash remains a mystery till this day.

"I can understand the anxiety and anger many of (the MH370 families) would be feeling," Madam Chee said.


Back then, SilkAir and Singapore Airlines (SIA) had provided staff who acted like "buddies" to each affected family, acting as a liaison, counsellor and supporter all in one.

Madam Chee was assigned a woman who, at their first meeting, told her: "You can call me any time for anything, even personal matters. If I cannot answer your questions, I will find answers for you."

While she can no longer remember the woman's name, what the woman did inspired Madam Chee to want to do the same now for victims' families.

"It isn't a lack of gratitude that I cannot remember (the woman's) name. But rather, there are just some things you'd want to forget," she said.

In an interview at the Wicare office in Bishan, where she is general manager of the widow support group, Madam Chee shared with The New Paper some lessons she has taken away from the painful experience.

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