Tributes pour in for singer Tong Yek Suan

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (second from left) with the late singer and vocal coach Tong Yek Suan (in wheelchair). He said he met her and her group, Xian Za Ren Deng The ETC, last Friday, when they performed at a dinner he attended.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (second from left) with the late singer and vocal coach Tong Yek Suan (in wheelchair). He said he met her and her group, Xian Za Ren Deng The ETC, last Friday, when they performed at a dinner he attended.PHOTO: PM LEE/FACEBOOK

Friends and fans remember the late veteran singer, who was a member of Xian Za Ren Deng The ETC, a band of local buskers

Following the sudden death of local singer and vocal coach Tong Yek Suan on Sunday at age 48, tributes have poured in.

Tong, better known as Tang Yuxuan, was a member of Xian Za Ren Deng The ETC, a band of local buskers. She was best known for performing a remix version of the xinyao classic Friendship Forever, with singers Joi Chua and Cai Lilian, for National Day in the late 1990s.

According to a report in Lianhe Wanbao, she had fainted three times last Friday and was admitted to hospital, but was discharged on Saturday.

It said she died at home, although the cause of her death is unclear.

On Sunday, radio DJ Lin Peifen shared a photo of Tong, together with the lyrics of Kan Jian (See) - a song written by Tong and performed by Chua - on Facebook.

Chua, who had been friends with Tong for more than 20 years, wrote on Instagram: "Her singing is a gift from heaven and it is no exaggeration. It is my greatest honour to be able to sing with you and sing the songs you wrote."

Local actor-DJ Dennis Chew also wrote on Instagram: "I won't forget how moved I was when you wrote the song Miss You for my album (in 2005)."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had just met Tonglast Friday when Xian Za Ren Deng The ETC performed at a dinner he attended.

He said in a Facebook post on Sunday: "She was a talented singer and accomplished songwriter. When not at her day job as a vocal coach, her passion for music would see her with her group busking in the heartland, often at Hougang Mall.

"Due to her medical condition, she could not stand for long periods, and sang sitting on a chair or wheelchair. Singapore has lost a musical talent."

Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC Member of Parliament Alex Yam wrote in a Facebook post that he went for Tong's performances at live music cafes such as Ai Qin Hai when he was in secondary school.

He said: "She had a powerful and unique voice and sang Cantonese songs with great passion.

"She was very supportive of CDAC (Chinese Development Assistance Council) events and we were planning to invite her to our mass singalong this year."

"Rest In Peace, Yuxuan. Thank you for bringing joy to so many with your voice."

Tong's memorial service is being held at Block 105 Aljunied Crescent until Thursday. She will be cremated at Mandai Crematorium.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline 'Tributes pour in for singer Tong Yek Suan'. Print Edition | Subscribe