Bangkok blast: Malaysian boy, 6, not told of dad's death, even as relatives' remains return home

6-year-old Lee Jian Han at his home in Butterworth, Malaysia, on Aug 20, 2015, looking at the coffin of his father Lee Tze Siang, who was killed with Jian Han's four-year-old sister in Monday's deadly blast in Bangkok, Thailand on Aug 18. The remains
6-year-old Lee Jian Han at his home in Butterworth, Malaysia, on Aug 20, 2015, looking at the coffin of his father Lee Tze Siang, who was killed with Jian Han's four-year-old sister in Monday's deadly blast in Bangkok, Thailand on Aug 18. The remains of Mr Lee, his daughter and two other relatives arrived home on Wednesday night. The remains of a fifth member of the family who was killed in the blast are expected to return home on Thursday night.PHOTO: REUTERS

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - When six-year-old Lee Jian Han saw a photograph of his father on the evening news, he repeatedly asked his grandparents why he was on TV.

His grandparents did not answer him. Instead, his grandmother Tan Soo Nyim, 58, burst into tears while his grandfather Lee Tiang Heng remained stony-faced.

Nobody could bring themselves to tell Jian Han that his father Lee Tze Siang, 35, had been killed in a bomb attack in Bangkok on Monday, together with his four-year-old sister Jing Xuan and three other family members - his maternal grandmother Lim Saw Gek, 49, his uncle Neoh Jai Jun, 20, and his grandaunt Lim Su See, 52.

The remains of four of them arrived on Wednesday night at the Penang International Airport (PIA).

Jian Han's mother Neoh Ee Ling, 33, who is five months' pregnant, and his maternal grandfather Neoh Hock Guan, 55, survived the blast.

The flight carrying the bodies of Ms Lee, Ms Lim, Jing Xuan and Mr Neoh arrived at the PIA cargo terminal at 10.40pm on Wednesday.

Family members were at the airport's arrival hall to receive the remains.

They were greeted by Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mah Siew Keong and Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Chew Mei Fun.

Earlier, at around 10.10pm, some 20 family members entered the cargo terminal to await the plane's arrival.

A funeral for Ms Lim and Mr Neohwill be held on Sunday, Aug 23.

The family from Taman Dedap, Butterworth, had been on holiday in Bangkok when the bombing occurred.

Mr Lee Tiang Heng, Jian Xuan's paternal grandfather, said all they could tell his grandson was that his mother was okay and coming home.

"It was hard to accept when I got the news but a fact is a fact. We will keep the news of my son's and granddaughter's deaths a secret. We don't know how to tell my grandson," said the visibly distraught 51-year-old farmer.

Mr Lee Tiang Heng said his son had asked him to take care of Jian Han while he was away in Bangkok to perform prayers and buy goods for his clothing business.

"He told me that his son could not follow them to Bangkok as he had to attend kindergarten," he said.

It was a sombre homecoming for Jian Xuan's mother Neoh Ee Ling, who had gone to Bangkok on a holiday in a joyful mood, but returned home under tragic circumstances.

The 33-year-old flew home with the remains of her four family members.

She arrived at the Bangkok airport on Wednesday accompanied by her sister Neoh Huey Shinn, brother-in-law Lee Tze Dung, uncle Lee Peng Hee and Malaysian Ambassador Nazirah Hussain.

Ms Neoh and her family members, who appeared calm, took off on a 7.25pm Thai Airways flight back to Penang from the Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

The embassy said Datuk Nazirah had already started making arrangements to fly the remains of the fifth victim - Ms Lim Su See - back home.

Ms Lim Su See, the sister of Ms Lim Saw Gek, was confirmed dead on Wednesday. Her remains were expected to arrive in Penang on Thursday.

A close friend of the family, Mr Vincent Lim Gim Seong, 46, told The Star that the authorities found her body at about midnight on Tuesday.

"Her body will be brought back tomorrow night after the post mortem procedures are completed," he said.

Ms Lim Su See is believed to have held Singaporean permanent residency.

Earlier, Malaysian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican, who visited the family, said Malaysia strongly criticised the bombing.

"This is a signal that issues pertaining to national safety are very important," said the Kepala Batas MP.

At the Neoh family home, the eldest son asked the press to respect their privacy.

A family friend Tan Chong Cheng, 22, said the family asked for "time to make sense of this tragedy".

"Please respect their privacy during this difficult time."