Cremation mix-up in Malaysia: Accident victim's identity finally confirmed after DNA test

Accident victim Fong Meng Tuck's family members placing the urn bearing his ashes in the hearse before the funeral procession in Macallum Street. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Accident victim Fong Meng Tuck, whose body was mistakenly claimed by another family and cremated, was finally sent off in a funeral attended by his grieving family members and friends.

The urn containing his ashes was carried in a hearse from the Sri Saujana flat in Macallum Street Ghaut here to the Leng How Koe columbarium in Paya Terubong.

The funeral procession began at 2.40pm yesterday, about 20 minutes before it was officially confirmed that the ashes were those of Fong following a DNA test.

Fong, 60, was killed in a road accident at 2am on Monday and his body was sent to the Penang Hosp­ital for a post-mortem.

A hospital staff member reportedly released his body to the other family by mistake later that day. The staff member has since been suspended from duty.

Among those who paid their last respects were Penang MCA deputy chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, Penang Komtar MCA task force chief Tan Hing Teik and Penang Hospital Visitors Board secretary Ong Han Beng.

Fong's eldest daughter I Wen, 34, said the family would discuss the next course of action with their lawyers after the funeral.

On Tuesday, I Wen and her brothers Chee Keong, 32, and Chee Hong, 28, gave their blood samples to Penang Hospital staff for a DNA test to be carried out.

In a press conference yesterday, George Town OCPD Asst Comm Mior Faridalathrash Wahid said the test results confirmed that the body cremated by the other family was that of Fong.

He added that Fong's blood samples were found by the Chemistry Department to have a percentage similarity of 99.99% with that of his three children.

He said forensics investigations revealed that Fong's body was mistakenly given to a 53-year-old woman who went to the mortuary to claim the body of her 73-year-old uncle Ho Swee Kim, who had died of a heart attack several days earlier.

He said the confusion occurred as there was no physical identification of Ho by the woman, who did not go near the body because she could not stand the smell.

Ho's body was claimed from the Penang Hospital mortuary by a family member at about 8am yesterday and cremated later in the day at the Mount Erskine Crema­torium.

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