Five days after Mr Goh Heng Yi was swept into the sea by a wave on Australia's western coast, his family is still hoping for a miracle.
His father, who gave his name only as Mr Goh, said yesterday that while they have been informed that search operations for his son have been suspended on Friday, his family has not given up hope that he may be found alive.
On Monday evening, the 23-year-old student was at Injidup Nature Spa - a natural rock formation on Injidup Beach - when he was hit by a large wave. "The man was standing on rocks within metres of the ocean when a large wave broke over the rocks, knocking him into the ocean," said a Western Australia Police Force spokesman.
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), which informed the elder Mr Goh of the incident on the day it occurred, sought permission from the Australian government for the family of the student to travel there amid border entry restrictions due to the pandemic.
However, while permission was granted on Wednesday evening, the family has chosen not to travel to Perth yet, as they would have to undergo 14 days of quarantine.
"Our family is already very distraught and being locked up for 14 days will cause us a lot of emotional distress," said Mr Goh, a 64-year-old retiree.
An appeal for the family to be exempted from the two-week quarantine upon arrival in Australia on compassionate grounds is pending approval.
"(If) the exemption for quarantine is granted, we will catch a flight and go. I am hoping the Australian authorities can be more understanding and sympathetic," said Mr Goh, who added that he understood the Australian authorities' position on the quarantine, given the ongoing pandemic situation.
"As a parent, for this to happen and for us not to be able to be there, it is very sad, and a cruel situation to be in. Even if he cannot be found, we still have hope, we want to go there and pray for him as his family."
Mr Goh said he last exchanged messages with his son the night before the incident occurred, and that the family kept in touch with him frequently through messages and video calls after he started pursuing his master's degree in economics at the University of Western Australia (UWA) in February.
He added that the incident might not have occurred if not for border closures due to the pandemic, as his son was currently on a term break and would have returned to Singapore to spend time with family.
As a parent, for this to happen and for us not to be able to be there, it is very sad, and a cruel situation to be in. Even if he cannot be found, we still have hope, we want to go there and pray for him as his family.
FATHER OF MR GOH HENG YI
Injidup Beach is located about 260km south of UWA and the younger Mr Goh was visiting the area with five friends when the accident occurred.
Land and sea search efforts have involved various police units as well as volunteers from the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia, Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue and Smiths Beach Surf Club.
However, operations were hampered by rough ocean conditions, which at times prevented the use of vessels and jet skis. Drones were used to search inaccessible areas.
An MFA spokesman said on Wednesday that the Singapore High Commission in Canberra is liaising closely with the Australian authorities on the search and rescue efforts for the Singaporean, and that the ministry would continue to provide appropriate support to the family during this period.