New life for woman who lost life partner

This story was first published in The Straits Times on April 8, 2013

WHEN her first husband was knocked down by a car driven by former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, Madam Yenny Young's life seemed marred by tragedy.

Four years later, however, she is married again with a three-month-old baby girl and a bright future ahead of her.

The 34-year-old - who was forced to take the heartbreaking decision to turn off the life-support machine of the man she loved - has told The Straits Times how she managed move on after the 2009 accident.

"Of course, it was tough times," she said in an e-mail interview from her home city of Solo, in Indonesia, where she now lives. "I was a newly-wed, so I had planned this and that and, all of a sudden, the accident happened and my life changed drastically."

Madam Young - who is now wed to an Indonesian businessman - will never forget the night she was woken up by a call from a nurse telling her that her first husband, Mr Tong Kok Wai, had been run down by a car, just three weeks after they married.

"At that time, we had just come back from a holiday too, so I was on the top of the world and suddenly, I was pulled to the bottom. Many whys and no answers. I just never thought that it would happen to me... It was a shock."

Mr Tong, a 30-year-old permanent resident from Malaysia, suffered severe brain damage after being hit by the car belonging to the Romanian Embassy in Singapore. Two other pedestrians were also hurt.

Ten days later, Madam Young made the decision to take Mr Tong off life support.

The case came to a close last month when a court in Bucharest, Romania, sentenced 51-year-old Ionescu to three years in prison over the hit-and-run crash.

Madam Young told The Straits Times: "I hope that people will stop asking me about it now that it is finally over. I have moved on, so I wish whatever that was in the past will remain in the past."

The housewife, who is Indonesian Chinese, married her new husband last year. She spends most of her days playing with her daughter and taking care of her. Whatever free time she has, she catches up on sleep.

This contented existence is a far cry from the unsettled life she led after the accident, when she was too upset to return to her job as an assistant hotel manager.

She spent her days watching Korean dramas, eating, sleeping and window-shopping.

"People said by working, I would be busy and so, it would be easier for me to move on as I would be too tired to think about the accident," she said. "But it wasn't the case for me."

Her company gave her half a month of paid leave and three months of unpaid leave.

But after just one month, she quit her job because she knew she was simply not able to work. She then spent almost a year travelling alone between Singapore and Solo.

Eventually, however, she decided to move back to her hometown for good because she wanted to be with her family in a familiar environment.

She credits her parents and two brothers for helping her to move on with their unconditional love and unwavering support.

Her family and relatives also avoided talking about the accident and instead encouraged her to do whatever made her happy.

Madam Young said: "I was basically like a parasite - I ate, slept and watched TV. But they never said a word... no pressure at all."

The episode has drawn her closer to her family, as she was able to spend more time with them.

"I left my hometown in 1996 and went back to Indonesia only once a year, for a week at most. My mum used to complain that I was her lost daughter."

After the accident, she also avoided her friends in Singapore, many of whom were mutual friends of Mr Tong.

She said: "At that time, I mixed with only one friend, my best girlfriend, who is more like a sister to me. My other friends are very nice - they always asked me out and made sure I was okay. But most of them are also Kok Wai's friends, and at that time, I did not want anything associated with Kok Wai, to help me move on. Not very nice of me but I felt I had to do it to move on."

Madam Young met her new husband, a 34-year-old who runs an electronics shop, at a social gathering in Indonesia in 2010.

She said she feels comfortable with him and they complete each other. "Like my family, he knew about the accident but has never said a word about it... He just doesn't want me to think so much."

She added that she has kept all her former husband's belongings but has never looked at them again. "It's not that I do not value or appreciate my life with Kok Wai. It's just that I want to start a new life... It is also a way to respect my husband."

When asked if there is still lingering mental trauma, she said she no longer feels upset or stressed but prefers not to talk about the incident.

She is no longer in touch with former croupier Bong Hwee Haw, now 28, who was also severely hurt in the crash. It is understood that Mr Bong, who was Mr Tong's friend, has returned to Malaysia.

Madam Young has no intention of returning to Singapore. She said: "Life goes on for the living. If I keep clinging on to the past, I would be miserable for the rest of my life.

"Life can be taken from you any time, so I should live my life to the fullest."

This story was first published in The Straits Times on April 8, 2013

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