SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Two years after the accident that killed Ms Cheryl Ng, then 23, her family still cannot find it within themselves to forgive her then boyfriend, Eric Leong Teck Wai.
The 26-year-old former air-con technician was at the wheel of a car and speeding when it crashed into a tree on Hillview Avenue in October 2013.
Ms Ng was killed on the spot, while Leong’s legs were broken, confining him to a wheelchair ever since.
On Monday, Leong was jailed for two years and nine months for dangerous driving and other offences.
The court also heard that he had consumed a sedative that can leave users with bad balance, confusion and muscular coordination.
Speaking to The New Paper about Ms Ng after Leong was sentenced, her mother and sister painted a picture of a woman who went through a rough patch, yet always believed in love.
Ms Ng, a sales executive with two younger sisters and a younger brother, did not have an easy time growing up, said her mother, Madam Mary Teo, a manager in a food supply company.
Madam Teo and her husband divorced when Ms Ng was in her teens. She dropped out of secondary school at 15 over a disciplinary issue.
“She was a smart girl, but she got led astray along the way,” said Madam Teo, adding that her daughter “always found her way home”.
Ms Ng then got to know a man who was a year older. At 21, she decided that she wanted to marry him in spite of her mother’s reservations.
He moved into the three-room flat in Marsiling that Ms Ng shared with her mother and siblings, but the marriage didn’t last.
About two years later, sometime in 2013, they began divorce proceedings. Ms Ng began seeing Leong around the same time.
She died in the accident before her divorce could be finalised.
Till today, Madam Teo and her family still struggle to pick up the pieces.
Ms Ng, who had a bubbly personality, used to have friends over for mahjong or meals, but now, the home is “too quiet”, said Madam Teo.
“I used to joke that she would cause the police to get called to our house for noise pollution. Now, I can only wish for her voice again,” Madam Teo said.
Even happy occasions like birthdays and Mother’s Day are affected.
Madam Teo said: “Every time we go out somewhere or have a family celebration, it’s like there’s someone missing, so there’s no point in celebrating anymore.”
“I told my two children, ‘If you want to celebrate my birthday, fine. But don’t buy me a cake, don’t sing Happy Birthday, because there’s nothing happy about it.’”
When told about Leong’s jail term, Madam Teo shook her head and said it is “too short”.
“No matter what, it can never replace my daughter,” she said.
“I want him to know that his mistake has caused so much pain within the family, not just me and my children, but Cheryl’s aunts, uncles, grandparents. We’re all hurting because of him.”
Ms Ng’s younger sister Clara remembers a “jie jie” (Mandarin for big sister) who was fiercely protective, especially after Clara got into a traffic accident in August 2013.
“I was in a coma for quite a while and even though I couldn’t open my eyes, I could hear my sister crying beside me and talking to me,” said Miss Clara Ng, 22, a personal assistant.
“She knew that I like Hello Kitty so she would buy me all the different Hello Kitty snacks to eat in hospital.
“While I was there, she would visit before going to work and in the evening, she would stay until the nurses chased her home.”
Doctors ordered complete bed rest for her back injury, so once she was back home, her protective elder sister would feed and nurse her.
“Like normal sisters, we also bickered a lot, but it’s nothing serious, just very loud,” said Miss Ng, adding that they used to go to karaoke joints together.
Among their favourite hits was She Says by JJ Lin, which the pair would sing together.
“I think even though it’s almost two years, none of us can really move on because my sister was such a big part of our lives. But we have to try to be strong in front of my mother, who took it very hard,” Miss Ng said.
When asked if she would ever forgive Leong, she immediately said “no”.
According to her, Leong removed all traces of Ms Ng from his Facebook page after the accident.
“Till this day, he has never once apologised to us for what happened. It’s not possible for me to forgive him, wheelchair-bound or not, because I don’t feel that he is remorseful at all,” said Miss Ng.