'Death of family hero a great loss'

Mr Quek Kiat Siong was found lying unresponsive on his bedroom floor in the family's Everitt Road house on Aug 4, 2012, after consuming medicinal drugs.

He had been prescribed 14 drugs by different doctors and was taking up to 26 pills every day, the written judgment revealed.

"His death was a great loss to the family," said his elder sister Victoria, 60, who also helps to run the family business which their father started in 1938 in Joo Chiat Road.

Mr Quek, who was single, had lived in the Joo Chiat Road premises for most of his life with Ms Quek and another sister. She said her brother would be up at 5.30am every day to get the family business going.

The co-owner of the popular Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah & Kueh Pie Tie would prepare the dough for the popiah skin and fix up the hot pan before having his breakfast, said Ms Quek.

"After his national service, it was the same routine for him every day," she told The Straits Times. "He was very actively involved in the family business."

The fourth youngest in a family of 16 siblings, Mr Quek stopped the heavy lifting only after seeking treatment for a back injury in 2009. He developed symptoms of depression when he was no longer able to carry out many manual tasks.

In July 2012, Mr Quek was admitted to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital because of his back pain. He was also receiving treatment for anxiety, depression and insomnia.

In January 2013, the family was told the insurance claim was not payable because the coroner had found his death to be a suicide.Later in the year, AIA added that Mr Quek "must have sustained bodily injury in an accident before the sum assured is payable".

"We were sure that he would not have taken his own life," said Ms Quek. "He had been making major plans, such as how to expand the family business and how to get the children involved."

Besides its day-to-day operations, Mr Quek handled the strategic decisions and administrative work, she said. "To all of us, he was a hero," Ms Quek added.

He was generous to his nieces and nephews, even buying a car for one of his nephews. "He was the uncle who was able to rally the younger nephews and nieces to learn the trade of popiah-making. He mentored...seven of them to come on board," she said.

One of his nephews, Mr Michael Ker, 40, gave up being a pharmacist to succeed Mr Quek after his death.

On the appeal result, Ms Quek said: "It's not about the insurance money; it's about who he was as a person and the honour of our family."

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2017, with the headline ''Death of family hero a great loss''. Print Edition | Subscribe