'Missing' mum and daughter found in Romania

Above: Ms Cheryl Yap Lay Leng with her mother, Madam Foo Li Kheng, and her Romanian boyfriend Alexandru Donea in an interview with Romanian broadcaster Pro TV. Below: A photo of Ms Yap and her mother, flanked by police officers, was posted by the Rom
Above: Ms Cheryl Yap Lay Leng with her mother, Madam Foo Li Kheng, and her Romanian boyfriend Alexandru Donea in an interview with Romanian broadcaster Pro TV. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT FROM PROTV
Above: Ms Cheryl Yap Lay Leng with her mother, Madam Foo Li Kheng, and her Romanian boyfriend Alexandru Donea in an interview with Romanian broadcaster Pro TV. Below: A photo of Ms Yap and her mother, flanked by police officers, was posted by the Rom
Above: A photo of Ms Yap and her mother, flanked by police officers, was posted by the Romanian police on their Facebook page on Tuesday.PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF POLITIA ROMANA

Woman had travelled with mum to meet Romanian boyfriend; police there say Singaporean duo are not victims of a crime

A mother and daughter pair who were reported as missing in Romania have been found.

The Romanian police posted a photo of Ms Cheryl Yap Lay Leng, 25, and her mother, Madam Foo Li Kheng, 61, flanked by police officers, on their Facebook page on Tuesday, noting that they had not fallen victim to crime.

Yesterday, the duo made contact with Ms Yap's father for the first time since they left for the Eastern European country without telling him. They appeared on the TV news in Romania on Tuesday, with Ms Yap telling a reporter that they had been staying with her boyfriend Alexandru Donea and his parents in Vulturesti, a village commune in Olt County about 150km from Bucharest, Romania's capital city.

Ms Yap, an administrative assistant, had become online friends with Mr Donea two years ago. A shared fondness for manga drew them closer together.

In the interview with Romanian broadcaster Pro TV, which was seen by The Straits Times, Ms Yap, when asked why she went to Romania, replied: "To meet my boyfriend to work together on YouTube."

Both their YouTube accounts are updated frequently with manga-related videos and songs. Ms Yap has more than 12,000 subscribers; Mr Donea has about 150,000.

On Jan 22, Ms Yap left for Bucharest to meet her Romanian boyfriend for the first time, with her mother accompanying her.

They kept their whereabouts secret from Ms Yap's father and brother, who feared that they might have fallen for an online scam.

On Monday, Mr Yap, a 59-year-old taxi driver, told Shin Min Daily News that his wife and daughter had left without his knowledge and were uncontactable.

He said his daughter had with her four bank passbooks containing savings of at least $40,000, with cash and SG50 commemorative notes.

Yesterday, Mr Yap spoke to his wife in a 10-minute phone call, said Shin Min. Madam Foo reassured him that they were doing fine. Ms Yap declined to speak to her father.

Mr Donea, 18, apologised on their behalf: "I am very sorry to have caused so much trouble for everyone."

After confirming that his wife and daughter were safe, Mr Yap said: "I can finally sleep in peace tonight."

In a statement to The Straits Times yesterday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that it is relieved that mother and daughter are safe. "The next-of-kin has also contacted the two Singaporeans and MFA is in close touch with the next-of-kin."

The spokesman added that MFA will continue to maintain contact with the Romanian authorities and render the necessary assistance.

Madam Foo told her husband that both of them intend to stay in Romania for at least another one or two months and he agreed. They had booked their return flights for April 16.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2016, with the headline ''Missing' mum and daughter found in Romania'. Print Edition | Subscribe