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TheBigStory
 

Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Anxious relatives waited and hoped and prayed

Published on Mar 10, 2014 5:32 PM
 

He refused to give up hope.

The latest news he heard was that the plane might be hijacked, said the elder brother of Malaysian Tan Ah Meng, who was onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

"If so, he would still be alive," the brother told The Straits Times at the Everly Hotel in Putrajaya where he has been keeping vigil since Saturday.

"It has been three days, there is still no sight of the plane. Do you know how worried I am? I have three family members on the flight, not one."

Missing passenger Tong Soon Lee's father (R) receiving Ven. Datuk K. Sri Dhammaratana Nayaka Maha Thero at the lobby of Everly Hotel Putrajaya on March 10. -- ST PHOTO: JOYCE LIM

Mr Tan was on the fateful flight MH370 with his wife and son, Tan Wei Chew, 19, who recently graduated from Singapore's St Andrew's Junior College.

The brother told The Straits Times that Mr Tan and his wife were supposed to have left last Wednesday. But they missed the flight and postponed their trip to Saturday.

Mr Tan, who lives in Kuala Lumpur with his family, was travelling to Beijing for business. His wife, who was accompanying him on the trip, decided to take their eldest son along for a holiday, said the brother.

Mr Tan's two other teenage children have been keeping vigil at the hotel, the brother added.

Like many other relatives and friends of the 239 passengers and crew onboard the flight which went missing on early Saturday morning, they have been hoping for news of a miracle. But none came.

Mr Tan's eldest brother, who lives in Ipoh, has also been at the hotel since Saturday.

The elderly man cut the loneliest figure of all, sitting at a corner in the hotel lobby, all by himself. Looking dazed, with tears welling up in his eyes, he declined to be interviewed and would only say: "He is my youngest brother. No matter how long I have to wait, I will still wait for him."

Mr Selamat Umar, father of Malaysian Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat, 29, said his son was travelling to Beijing to help repair a private jet. He told The Straits Times that he is prepared for the worst. "Now I am only hoping that his body is found. I am prepared to fly to the location to do a DNA test if I have to," said Mr Selamat, 60, who added that his son lives in Shah Alam and is married with a toddler.

Unlike the scene in a hotel in Beijing where angry family members of Chinese passengers onboard the missing plane shouted at the authorities and demanded answers from them, those who waited in Malaysia showed their feelings in different ways.

Most of them kept to themselves and walked around the hotel aimlessly, hoping someone would give them some answers.

Missing passenger Tong Soon Lee's father invited Venerable Datuk K. Sri Dhammaratana Nayaka Maha Thero, the Buddhist chief high priest of Malaysia, to pray for his son in his hotel room.

"What more can I do, but pray," said Mr Tong's father.

joycel@sph.com.sg

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