Farewell, Uncle Bai Yan

Bai Yan's funeral procession leaving for Mandai Crematorium at 11am.
Bai Yan's funeral procession leaving for Mandai Crematorium at 11am.ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG
(From left) Actors Huang Shinan, Ye Sumei and Zeng Huifen.
(From left) Actors Huang Shinan, Ye Sumei and Zeng Huifen. ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG
Actors Aileen Tan (in grey shirt and orange sunglasses), Ye Sumei (in black T-shirt and white cap), Zhuo Mingshun (in striped grey shirt) and Chen Guohua (in black T-shirt and jeans), and Zhou Quanxi (second row, in blue cap, sunglasses and white shirt).
Actors Aileen Tan (in grey shirt and orange sunglasses), Ye Sumei (in black T-shirt and white cap), Zhuo Mingshun (in striped grey shirt) and Chen Guohua (in black T-shirt and jeans), and Zhou Quanxi (second row, in blue cap, sunglasses and white shirt).ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG

Goddaughters Zeng Huifen and Ye Sumei among the former actors at the veteran actor's funeral

Veteran celebrities were among those who paid their last respects to former actor Bai Yan at his funeral yesterday morning.

Bai's goddaughters Zeng Huifen and Ye Sumei as well as television actors such as Huang Shinan, Zhang Jinhua and Zhou Quanxi turned up to say their final goodbye to the veteran actor, who died on Monday, just months after celebrating his 100th birthday.

Bai's family members bowed as mourners made their last rounds around his casket at Singapore Casket in a farewell ceremony, before the funeral procession left for Mandai Crematorium at 11am.

About 40 people - mostly friends and family - attended the funeral.

Zeng, who is based in the United States and is back for a visit, choked up and dabbed away tears as she spoke about Bai - whom she had met while filming the local drama Blossoms In The Sun (1984).

The former actress, now in her 50s, says: "Every time I come back from the US, I'll visit him. These past few years, his memory has suffered and while he seems to recognise me, he can't really remember who I am."

Zeng, who had starred in Samsui Women (1986) and A Mother's Love (1989), had earlier visited Bai in hospital after learning that he was warded for pneumonia.

Yesterday, she said: "I was quite calm the past few days, but today, it's really goodbye. I'm sad, of course, but he and his wife were a very sweet couple.

"I think he will be glad to be reunited with her."

Bai was married to local movie star Ye Qing. Ye died in 2016 at the age of 94, 72 years after they tied the knot.

Bai leaves behind three children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Another goddaughter of Bai, former actress Chen Bifeng - did not attend the wake yesterday. Her husband Chong Liung Man, a local television producer, told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao that she had a class to teach in the morning and could not attend. Chen is now teaching Chinese and drama classes in schools on a freelance basis.

Veteran actress Zhang, who played Bai's wife in Five Foot Way (1987) and We Are Family (1988) and veteran actor Zhou, who played the son of Zhang and Bai in We Are Family, were both at the funeral.

Zhang, 82, says she found out about his passing on the radio. She says: "He's led a long, wonderful life with many children and grandchildren. And he and his wife loved each other very much."

Zhou, who shed tears several times throughout the wake on Monday, says he visited Bai once a month with bread that Bai liked to eat. "The actors of We Are Family got along very well and he really was like a father to me. It's a good thing I got to visit him in the hospital before he died."

Bai's granddaughter Jenny Em, 50, an office manager in a books distribution company, says: "Our family is very heartened that even though my grandpa had not acted for more than 20 years, so many people still remember and love him.

"He was a very happy, healthy person. Even at his advanced age, he never needed to take any medication. We are glad that he left in peace, with no pain or disease."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2019, with the headline 'Farewell, Uncle Bai Yan'. Print Edition | Subscribe