Family bids a sorrowful farewell to Jurong fire victim in Johor wake

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Colleagues of the late chemist Lim Siaw Chian, who was a victim of a fire that broke out at Leeden National Oxygen, visit her wake in Skudai, Johor, on 14 Oct, 2015. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
The father of the late chemist Lim Siaw Chian during her wake in Skudai, Johor, on 14 Oct, 2015. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Despite the pain from a C-section birth, chemist Lim Siaw Chian would express her milk daily for her four-month-old daughter.

"She would wake up at 6am and take both her daughter and the milk to the babysitter's on the way to work... Now that she's gone, we don't know what to (feed the infant)," said the chemist's father, who only wanted to be known as Mr Lim, in Mandarin.

His only daughter was killed in Monday's blaze at Leeden National Oxygen, a gas manufacturing firm in Tanjong Kling Road. Several explosions were heard as a fire engulfed a ground-floor laboratory.

At Ms Lim's wake in Skudai today, her father, who has four other sons, recounted how he broke down when he discovered three remaining packets of breast milk in Ms Lim's fridge.

He later delivered them to his granddaughter, who is currently with her babysitter in Jurong.

"It pains me to know that her daughter will never know her mother," he said.

Ms Lim's husband and relatives were at the mortuary on Tuesday morning to collect her remains.

Her father-in-law, who only wanted to be known as Mr Ooi, remembers the first time he met the woman about 10 years ago.

"My (elder) son was very excited when he told me he found a girlfriend in university," he said in Mandarin. The couple had met when they were in the University of Malaya for their undergraduate studies.

They later went to Singapore for work and did their Masters in the National University of Singapore. They took on Singapore citizenship to give their daughter a brighter future.

"I told him to bring her on a holiday in Genting, where I was, and show her to me," he said, adding that he liked Ms Lim immediately. "She dressed very simply, in a t-shirt and jeans, and spoke to me very respectfully."

On Monday, Mr Ooi received a call that would break his heart.

"When my son called to tell me about the accident, I couldn't make out what he was saying. He was crying so badly," he said. "I only heard him saying 'Siaw Chian is no more'."

His son had rushed to the accident site but the place had already been cordoned off.

Since the accident, his son has barely slept or eaten, Mr Ooi said. "Our focus right now is on Siaw Chian's afterlife preparation."

Both Mr Ooi and Mr Lim want investigations into the fire to be completed.

"We want a clear explanation on why my daughter was the only one who died in the fire," said Mr Lim.

Meanwhile, Mr Ooi had urged his son to move back to Penang or Kulai where he can receive family support.

"My son said no. (Singapore) was where Siaw Chian and he built their home. He wants to live there until he dies in memory of her," said Mr Ooi.

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