Grieving fans, celebrity co-workers, politicians, and even strangers turned up in the thousands yesterday to pay their respects to actor Aloysius Pang, who died last Wednesday from injuries suffered during a military exercise in New Zealand.
Even though the morning session at a multipurpose hall in MacPherson Lane was reserved for Mr Pang's close friends, family and VIPs, people started streaming in at about 10am, forming a line to enter the wake. The public memorial began at noon, and the crowd flow never let up after that.
It did not matter that many of those who spoke to The Sunday Times were not fans of Mr Pang's and simply wanted to pay their respects to someone who they said had "gone too soon".
One of them, retiree Hong Lee Yan, 72, had taken a 11/2-hour bus ride from her home in Kranji. She said in Mandarin as she choked back tears: "I have seen him on TV, but I don't remember the names of his roles or his shows. I came because I am so saddened that this tragedy had to happen at all.
"Anyone who is a mother or a grandmother must feel for his parents. I cry every time I read anything about him."
The Ministry of Defence said Corporal First Class (NS) Pang Wei Chong, 28, who was with the 268th Battalion Singapore Artillery, had been carrying out repair works inside a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer last Saturday when he got caught between the gun barrel, as it was being lowered, and the cabin.
MOVED TO TEARS
I have seen him on TV, but I don't remember the names of his roles or his shows. I came because I am so saddened that this tragedy had to happen at all... Anyone who is a mother or a grandmother must feel for his parents. I cry every time I read anything about him.
MADAM HONG LEE YAN, 72, a retiree, saying in Mandarin as she choked back tears. She took a 11/2-hour bus ride from her home in Kranji to attend the wake.
A SIGN OF RESPECT
I wanted to look formal for this. It's my way of showing him respect.
JIMMY HAN, 17, who came in a jacket borrowed from his father, even though it was one size too large.
He was evacuated to Waikato Hospital, a regional trauma centre in Hamilton, south of Auckland, where his condition deteriorated, despite undergoing three operations.
His body was flown to Paya Lebar Air Base on a Republic of Singapore Air Force KC-135R tanker aircraft on Friday.
Mr Pang's death was the fifth reported since September 2017, following four years of zero training-and operations-related fatalities.
His two older brothers were seen attending to friends and visitors throughout the day.
Private-hire car driver Benson Seow, 45, who brought a small bouquet of flowers, said he hoped the authorities would do more to ensure the safety of national servicemen.
Teenager Jimmy Han, 17, came in a jacket borrowed from his father, even though it was one size too large. He said: "I wanted to look formal for this. It's my way of showing him respect."
Among the celebrities who attended there were Jeanette Aw, Joanne Peh, Chen Hanwei, Christopher Lee and Fann Wong.
Mr Pang's actress girlfriend Jayley Woo, 27, wearing sunglasses, needed assistance when walking away from the wake.
Actress Zoe Tay, 51, also broke down in tears as she told The Sunday Times she had looked forward to working with Mr Pang again.
"I worked with Aloysius on only one show but I could see that he was such a polite, humble and hardworking young man," said Tay, who had acted alongside him in the 2015 Channel 8 medical drama You Can Be An Angel Too .
Politicians, including Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and MP Tin Pei Ling, also arrived to pay their respects, as did members of the 268th Battalion Singapore Artillery.
Mr Pang's official fan club, known as the Pangsters, came in a group wearing the club's official T-shirts. The group of 100 mostly teenage girls huddled together and sobbed as they waited to enter the wake.
Even though emotions ran high, the wake was a hushed affair, with quiet instrumental music playing in the background. Two large screens on both sides of the coffin played a loop of Mr Pang's photos and video clips. Dozens of wreaths lined the entrance and exit, and strings of colourful paper cranes hung along one side of the multipurpose hall.
The public memorial continues until noon today. Mr Pang will be accorded the full honours of a military funeral, and his cremation will be held at Mandai Crematorium at 5pm.