Fire at Leeden National Oxygen

Victim's family mourns tragic loss

Colleagues of the late Lim Siaw Chian, who died in the fire that broke out at Leeden National Oxygen on Monday, paying their respects at her wake in Skudai, Johor, yesterday.
Colleagues of the late Lim Siaw Chian, who died in the fire that broke out at Leeden National Oxygen on Monday, paying their respects at her wake in Skudai, Johor, yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Mr Lim, father of Ms Lim Siaw Chian.
Mr Lim, father of Ms Lim Siaw Chian.

She would express milk daily for child despite pain from C-section

Despite the pain from a C-section birth, chemist Lim Siaw Chian would express her milk daily for her four-month-old daughter.

"She would wake up at 6am and take her daughter and the milk to the baby-sitter's on the way to work," said Ms Lim's father, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lim, in Mandarin.

His only daughter was killed in Monday's blaze at Leeden National Oxygen, a gas manufacturing firm in Tanjong Kling Road. Several explosions were heard as a fire engulfed a ground-floor laboratory.

At Ms Lim's wake in Skudai, Johor, yesterday, her father, who also has four sons, recounted how he broke down when he discovered three remaining packets of breast milk in his daughter's fridge.

He later took them to his granddaughter, who is being looked after by her baby-sitter in Jurong.

"It pains me to know that her daughter will never know her mother," said the 62-year-old school bus driver, who lives in Kulai, Johor.

He travelled to Jurong West, where his daughter lived with her husband and daughter, on Tuesday afternoon.

He arrived at about 7.30pm to take Ms Lim's remains back to Johor. His son-in-law had told him of the accident on Monday.

Ms Lim's husband and relatives were at the mortuary on Tuesday morning to collect her remains.

Her father-in-law, who wanted to be known as Mr Ooi, said Ms Lim cared deeply for others.

She was very worried when he had metal plates taken out of his leg last month, after a fall earlier.

"It was a minor operation but she told me to take care and when I told her not to worry, she said she could not, she cared for my leg more than she cared for her own," said the 57-year-old, who works in construction.

Mr Ooi remembers the first time he met the woman who would later become his daughter-in-law.

'Life has lost its meaning'

It was about 10 years ago.

"My (elder) son was very excited when he told me he had found a girlfriend in university," he said in Mandarin. The couple met while studying at the University of Malaya.

They did their master's degrees at National University of Singapore, and became Singapore citizens to give their daughter a brighter future.

"I told him to take her on a holiday to Genting, where I was, and show her to me," he said, adding that he liked Ms Lim immediately. "She dressed very simply, in a T-shirt and jeans, and spoke to me very respectfully."

He later told his wife about Ms Lim, and the couple invited her to their place in Penang for Chinese New Year.

"We got along very well, and when they got married two years ago, I thought we had the perfect family," he said.

MOTHERLESS

It pains me to know that her daughter will never know her mother.

MR LIM, father of Ms Lim Siaw Chian, who died in the fire. Her daughter is just four months old

But the bliss was to end. On Monday, Mr Ooi received a call that would break his heart.

"When my son called to tell me about the accident, I couldn't make out what he was saying. He was crying so badly. I only heard him saying, 'Siaw Chian is no more'."

Mr Ooi, his wife and their younger son flew out of Penang on Monday night. When they reached his elder son's flat, the latter cried hysterically.

"He said life no longer held any meaning," Mr Ooi said. "He couldn't accept his wife's death."

His son had rushed to the accident site but the place had already been cordoned off.

Since the accident, his son has barely slept or eaten, Mr Ooi said. "Our focus right now is on Siaw Chian's afterlife preparation."

Both Mr Ooi and Mr Lim want investigations into the fire to be completed. "We want a clear explanation on why my daughter died in the fire," said Mr Lim.

Meanwhile, Mr Ooi has urged his son to move back to Penang or Kulai where he can receive family support.

"My son said no. (Singapore) was where Siaw Chian and he built their home. He wants to live there until he dies in memory of her," said Mr Ooi.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2015, with the headline 'Victim's family mourns tragic loss'. Print Edition | Subscribe