Relatives, friends pay tribute to dancer

Relatives, friends pay tribute to dancer

SINGAPORE - More than 100 friends and relatives last night attended the wake for Singaporean ballroom dancer Tiara Zhang Zhi Zhen, who died after evacuating residents of a burning Hong Kong guesthouse last December.

Instead of fleeing, the 33-year-old woke other guests to get them out. She inhaled smoke and was taken to hospital. She fell into a coma and died in Singapore General Hospital last Friday.

Nobody died in the fire, although 25 people were injured, seven critically.

Ms Zhang's elder brother, who did not want to be named, said the family is "doing OK for now". They are declining donations, including one from Hong Kong entrepreneur Lam Kin Chung. The fellow Buddhist offered $5,000, saying he was "deeply moved by Tiara's unselfishness".

"We really appreciate it but we can manage," the brother added.

The family told only relatives and friends about the wake in Jurong, wishing to grieve in private.

An uncle on Ms Zhang's father's side called Ms Zhang "a very understanding person". He added that she was wonderful at organising events, even during her younger days. "She could sit down at a table with a laptop and get so many things done."

Ms Zhang worked as an account director at events marketing agency George P. Johnson.

She represented Singapore in competitive ballroom dancing, including at the 2010 World Dance-Sport Federation Asia-Pacific Championships in South Korea and the 2009 Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam.

A friend from the dance community, who did not wish to be named, said Ms Zhang had been like a mentor to a group of younger dancers.

"We will remember her and what she imparted to us," she said. "We have to keep doing what we have been doing. She taught us how to be a better person and how to be a better dancer."

Ms Zhang's cremation will take place today.

This article was first published on July 01, 2014.
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