Grief for a child who was just starting her musical journey

Mr Stephen Yap at the wake for his daughter Vivian yesterday. The 16-year-old died in a boating accident in the Maldives with her mother Nicole Tsai. Madam Tsai was cremated in Sri Lanka and her remains sent to Taiwan. Her photo was placed near her d
Mr Stephen Yap at the wake for his daughter Vivian yesterday. The 16-year-old died in a boating accident in the Maldives with her mother Nicole Tsai. Madam Tsai was cremated in Sri Lanka and her remains sent to Taiwan. Her photo was placed near her daughter's at the wake.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

On a day when he should have been celebrating his 44th birthday, Mr Stephen Yap instead spent yesterday mourning the death of his daughter Vivian.

The 16-year-old and her mother, Madam Nicole Tsai, 42 - Mr Yap's former wife - were killed during a night diving trip in the Maldives when a speedboat crashed into their boat. There were no other casualties. The holiday had been planned by Madam Tsai to celebrate what would have been Vivian's 16th birthday on Dec 23.

Vivian loved music and had performed annually at the Singapore Flute Festival since 2011.

"She knew there wasn't a future in music in Singapore, so she had to go overseas," said Mr Yap, a systems manager, adding that though his daughter was not strong academically, she excelled in music.

LIFE CUT SHORT

She knew there wasn't a future in music in Singapore, so she had to go overseas.

MR STEPHEN YAP, on his daughter Vivian, who had performed annually at the Singapore Flute Festival since 2011

Vivian recently completed her Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Grade 8 examination and was planning to pursue a diploma in music in France after her O levels.

Mr Yap, a Singapore permanent resident, had to fly to the Maldives to identify and recover his daughter's body.

Among the documents the authorities in the Maldives required for Mr Yap to recover his daughter's body was her birth certificate, which he was unable to locate as it had been in the possession of Madam Tsai, who had custody of Vivian.

Vivian was a Malaysian and Madam Tsai, a Taiwanese. Both were permanent residents of Singapore and Vivian attended school here.

Mr Yap also had to go to Malaysia to get a new birth certificate for his daughter. "I was very emotional as I knew that I would get her death certificate soon," he said.

Arriving in the Maldives on Dec 23, he marked her birthday alone with a small cupcake with a lit candle in his ant-infested hotel room. "I didn't care about the hotel, I just wanted to bring my daughter back," he said.

Mr Yap will take his younger daughter Cassandra, 14, to Taiwan later this month to pay her last respects to her mother and scatter her ashes in a forest.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2016, with the headline 'Grief for a child who was just starting her musical journey'. Print Edition | Subscribe