S'porean feared missing in Istanbul

Kitchen assistant Yang Tiong Wei (above, in Taiwan two years ago) withdrew his $4,000 savings and bought a $3,100 ticket to Israel that transited in Istanbul, but he failed to board the connecting flight.

SINGAPORE - A singaporean will fly out to Turkey tonight to look for his brother who suffers from bipolar disorder, after he apparently went missing in Istanbul.

Mr Yang Tiong Hock, 39, told The Straits Times that 34-year- old Tiong Wei, a kitchen assistant, left home on Tuesday morning with little or no medication and did not return home.

On Wednesday morning, a worried Mr Yang checked his brother's bank account and found that all of his $4,000 savings had been withdrawn the previous day.

At the same time, another family member managed to contact Tiong Wei - only to discover he was in Turkey.

"He had bought a $3,100 ticket to Israel that transited in Istanbul and he never got on the connecting flight," said Mr Yang. "When we asked him why, he said he didn't know."

Although the family managed to speak with Tiong Wei several more times that day, the conversations only magnified their worry: He was lucid at times but frighteningly confused about his whereabouts at others.

"Sometimes he would say he was in Israel and sometimes in Turkey," said Mr Yang, an engineer.

"Then he said he wanted to come home but didn't have enough money.

"Then he started saying he had met two friends there and was going to find a job, which really freaked me out."

Since 6pm that day, all calls to Tiong Wei's phone have not been connected.

"We wanted to keep in touch with him but we were afraid about his phone's battery power - and true enough, I think it has drained," said Mr Yang.

He lodged a report with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and has been seeking help from Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) officials in both Ankara, Turkey, and Singapore.

An SPF spokesman confirmed that a report had been lodged, while an MFA spokesman said last night that the ministry and its embassy in Ankara, Turkey, were aware of the case.

"We are in touch with the subject's family to render consular assistance," said the spokesman.

Mr Yang intends to file a report with the Istanbul police so its officers can begin searching for his brother.

He added: "I'll probably stay a few days, maybe print posters, distribute them to the nearby hotels, paste them in public places, if possible - what you see on television. I really don't know what to do."

Mr Yang said his brother had stayed away from home before, but the family was always able to find him at friends' or relatives' homes. This is the first time he has disappeared overseas.

The family has also started a Facebook page www.facebook.com/helpfinddesmondyang and is also asking anyone with any information to e-mail yangtionghock@hotmail.com


This article was published on April 19 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.