BALI BOMBINGS: 10 YEARS ON

S'pore Cricket Club members pay respects to fallen compatriots

He came decked out in the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) rugby team jersey of 2002, baggy from years of wash and wear, but entirely suited to the solemn occasion.

Ten years ago on Friday, Mr Saptak Santra was in Bali as part of an SCC team of 17 to compete in a tournament. Of the 12 who went out for a night of merrymaking at Paddy's Bar, eight would not see the new dawn.

At 6.30am on Friday, 120 mostly expatriate SCC members and their partners gathered at the Padang for a memorial service.

Aside from Mr Santra, now a 39-year-old lawyer, there were two other survivors of the blast present: Regional manager Andrew Douglas, 45, and International Rugby Board project manager Matthew Oakley, 42, who was in Bali as a referee. The other survivors have since left Singapore.

Every year since the bombing, SCC members have convened at dawn on Oct 12 to commemorate their fallen compatriots.

"All fine young men cut down in their prime," Mr Douglas said as he began the proceedings. "Not everybody here knew those men, and it is testament to the game of rugby, and to our club, that so many people made the effort to be here this morning."

Mr Graeme Burnett, 58, who was then the team's convener but did not go to Bali, said: "The sport is a form of combat on the field. We protect one another in this physicality. That bonds us together."

The service closed with a minute of silence before the crowd, led by Mr Douglas and Mr Burnett, circled anti-clockwise around a tribute of eight bouquets of white roses, each with a rugby ball and a nameplate bearing a name of the deceased.

Mr Douglas said: "Time never really heals the wounds, but it is a good day for reflection, to think about the good times that we had together and the great guys that they were."

Mr Santra was as reflective: "You think you will see this only on the news. But being through it, I know there is a personal story behind each victim, and I am not so blase anymore."

On Saturday, Mr Santra and Mr Douglas still play for the SCC rugby team - the latter as its captain. And despite the sombre start to Friday, the mood will change this evening when the club marks its 160th anniversary.

waltsim@sph.com.sg