This article first appeared in The StraitsTimes on July 17, 2013
AS THE coffins carrying his father and brother were pushed into the cremation chambers yesterday, Mr Tan Chee Wee made them a solemn promise.
“Dad and brother, I will take care of our family,” he said tearfully in Hokkien. “Don’t worry, brother. Your kids are my kids now.”
Emotions ran high yesterday as the Tan family bade farewell to Mr Tan Boon Sin, 66, and Mr Tan Chee Heong, 42, who were brutally murdered last week in Kovan.
The man accused of the crime, policeman Iskandar Rahmat, 34, was charged in court on Monday with murder.
He is in custody for further investigation, and the case will be heard again next Monday.
“I want to thank the police officers who helped with the investigations and those who provided evidence and eyewitness accounts,” said Mr Ong Boon Kok, 49, the uncle of the younger Mr Tan.
But there was little solace for the two widows of the Tan family, as their husbands undertook their final journeys yesterday.
The elder Mr Tan’s wife, Madam Ong Ah Tang, was too distraught to take part in the Buddhist funeral rites. She sat at the side, sobbing into the arms of a relative.
When the coffins left for Mandai Crematorium from the Teochew Funeral Parlour in Ubi, Mr Tan Chee Heong’s wife shouted in anguish as she pushed the hearse carrying her father-in-law.
She looked up at the sky with clenched fists and stamped her feet. Her 10-year-old son also teared up when it was his turn to carry his father’s photograph and urn.
Much of the attention was on the younger Mr Tan’s three- year-old son, who was fussed over by relatives.
“Bye daddy,” he said with a wave as his father’s coffin was placed into the hearse.
During the 50-minute journey, the hearses made a detour past AutoBay @ Kaki Bukit, where the elder Mr Tan’s car workshop was located.
A handful of plainclothes police officers were present throughout, telling reporters to keep their distance from the family.
At Mandai Crematorium, more than 100 relatives and friends gathered to say their goodbyes to the two men at the service hall.
By most accounts over the past week, the older Mr Tan was a good boss who cared for his workers, and a self-made man who was both humble and hard-working.
The younger Mr Tan, who owned an electronic products business, was described by Mr Ong as a family man, a responsible husband and a filial son.
As his coffin entered the cremation chambers, his wife hugged their younger son tightly.
Madam Ong, meanwhile, had one last message for her husband of 40 years.
She cried in Mandarin: “Get reborn into a good family and live a good life.”