MFA providing assistance to Singaporeans affected by NZ attacks

Flowers and signs at a memorial as a tribute to victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks, on March 16, 2019.
Flowers and signs at a memorial as a tribute to victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks, on March 16, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

The Turkish husband of a Singaporean woman is reportedly in intensive care after he was shot at one of the two mosques targeted in an attack that killed 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, last Friday.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is aware of Mr Zekeriya Tuyan, a Singapore permanent resident, who is in Christchurch Hospital, The Straits Times understands.

It is also understood that the ministry is assisting Mr Tuyan's family, including his wife, Ms Hamimah Ahmat, and their two sons.

On Monday, Channel NewsAsia reported that Mr Tuyan, who is in his 40s and works in Christchurch, was shot at the Al Noor Mosque, where he had gone for Friday prayers.

Ms Hamimah, who is also in her 40s and lives in Singapore, said her husband was in a stable condition after undergoing multiple operations, but was still "seriously ill".

In the days following the mass shootings, Christchurch residents are grappling with the aftermath of so many of their own dead or injured in the attack by the lone gunman, a self-professed right-wing extremist.

The 28-year-old Australian was charged with murder on Saturday.

 
 
 

Another Singaporean, Mr Rashid Omar, lost his 24-year-old son Tariq Rashid Omar, who was a citizen of New Zealand.

ST understands that the MFA is providing assistance to the family.

Following the tragedy, many like former Singaporean policeman, Mr Saifudin Abu, 42, have come forward with offers of help.

Mr Saifudin, who has 20 years of experience with the Singapore and New Zealand police forces, moved to New Zealand in 2010 and became a citizen four years ago.

He made the 12-hour journey by car and ferry from the North Island with his 12-year-old son.

They reached the city on Sunday and got to work immediately, offering help "to fill the gaps", providing food, logistics and counselling to the affected families, said Mr Saifudin, who runs a travel agency and a restaurant.

"After hearing the news, I just felt the need to get here. Being a former police officer, it is an instinct," he told ST over the phone from Christchurch.

"Don't sit down, don't run away, go for it - it is built into my character, and that is what police do."

He has since met three families affected by the tragedy - including Mr Rashid and two Malaysian families - and hopes to provide support for as long as it is needed.

"There is still a bit of confusion, but the focus is to help the families and help the city," he said.

As the New Zealand authorities work to identify and release the bodies of the victims to the families, Mr Saifudin said one of the big tasks ahead is to ensure the facilities for the mass burial are ready.

He said the last day of the mass burial was scheduled to take place tomorrow or earlier if possible.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2019, with the headline 'MFA providing assistance to Singaporeans affected by NZ attacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe