Marina Bay Suites fire: Son received bad news while out at sea

A police van leaving Marina Bay Suites carrying the bodies of the victims on 14 January 2014. The victims were Mr Sim Lai Huat, a Singaporean and Ms Sooria Kala Kanaseon, a Malaysian.

SINGAPORE - Navy systems specialist Sim Wai Kiang was out at sea on a training mission and asleep on Tuesday morning when he was woken up and asked to report to the command centre.

Several officers had to deliver bad news from home to 25-year-old Military Expert 1 Sim: His father, security guard Sim Lai Huat, 55, had died while responding to a fire on the 65th floor of Marina Bay Suites.

ME1 Sim said: "After the call, I immediately flew back, straight to Sembawang (Air Base)."

Yesterday, when The Straits Times visited the Sims' family home in Tampines, relatives could be seen talking to Madam Koh Mui Choo, the 51-year-old widow of Mr Sim.

Red paper covered up fresh decorations that were meant for Chinese New Year, as well as the family altar in the living room. ME1 Sim, who is the middle child, said he was still concerned about his grieving mother, a canteen stall operator.

His siblings - older sister Lin Lin, a 28-year-old administrator, and younger sister Lin Yi, a 24-year-old university student - were staying home to keep her company.

"Whenever the relatives are not here, we try to talk to her, ask her to rest more, eat more," he said sombrely.

When the family went to the mortuary on Wednesday, he added, they were not allowed to collect his father's body as it was charred beyond recognition.

"(The police) only told us the body couldn't be visually identified, so they require DNA, and they told us the time frame, which is at least two weeks," he said.

Both his mother and younger sister have given their DNA at the Police Cantonment Complex, he added.

There will be a Buddhist funeral when they are able to collect Mr Sim's body.

Meanwhile, Pico Guards managing director Sri Narayan Singh confirmed with The Straits Times that the husband and daughter of Ms Sooria Kala Kanaseon, the 34-year-old Malaysian security guard who died alongside Mr Sim, had also provided their DNA to the police yesterday.

Mr Singh said: "We had been putting them up at a hotel since Tuesday, but they've checked out ... and are congregated in Johor Baru waiting for news."

He added that Ms Sooria's body will be embalmed and repatriated to her home town of Seremban.

The security firm employed both the victims.

 


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