Son confirms woman kayaker's death in emotional post

Above: Madam Puah Geok Tin's body was found on Wednesday by a fisherman off the coast of Kemaman, Terengganu. Right: Madam Kwan Yoke Yee, 58, the wife of missing kayaker Tan Eng Soon, and Madam Puah's son Louis Pang coming out of a room at Penyabong
Madam Kwan Yoke Yee, 58, the wife of missing kayaker Tan Eng Soon, and Madam Puah's son Louis Pang coming out of a room at Penyabong Jetty in Mersing on Wednesday after verifying Mr Tan's and Madam Puah's belongings, which were found in the kayak. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Above: Madam Puah Geok Tin's body was found on Wednesday by a fisherman off the coast of Kemaman, Terengganu. Right: Madam Kwan Yoke Yee, 58, the wife of missing kayaker Tan Eng Soon, and Madam Puah's son Louis Pang coming out of a room at Penyabong
Madam Puah Geok Tin's body was found on Wednesday by a fisherman off the coast of Kemaman, Terengganu.

Relatives of missing fellow male kayaker still await news as search for him continues around Kuala Kemaman coast

The family of Singaporean kayaker Madam Puah Geok Tin said they were trying to "be strong for each other" yesterday - a day after her body was identified - while relatives of her missing companion faced an anxious wait for news of his whereabouts.

The search for Mr Tan Eng Soon, 62, continued into its seventh day yesterday with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) confirming that one ship and two other boats were scouring an area of 500 sq nautical miles around the Kuala Kemaman coast, with 32 personnel involved.

It came after the son of Madam Puah confirmed his mother's death in an emotional Facebook post, accompanied by a family photograph.

Mr Louis Pang, 24 - one of two sons - wrote: "Dear mummy, you've led a wonderful and glorious life. You did what you love to do till the very end. Rest in peace, mummy. I love you.

"Now spread your wings and be free. I promise to bring you back home safe with me."

Mr Pang told Malaysian news agency Bernama that an autopsy was being performed yesterday afternoon and police were still investigating, with several documents needing to be prepared before her body could be taken back to Singapore.

He added: "I also hope that the efforts to look for my mother's friend, Matthew Tan Eng Soon, who went missing with her, would succeed soon."

Meanwhile, businesswoman Madam Puah's only daughter, who works as a teacher in Australia, returned to Singapore to be with her family before the tragic news was confirmed.

"I was devastated - we were all devastated," said 27-year-old Ms Ranie Pang. "It kind of hit me more this morning. But I think we all want to be strong for each other at this time."

Mr Pang, together with a few relatives, was still in Malaysia yesterday as the family arranged for her body to be transported back to Singapore.

Madam Puah's body was found on Wednesday by a fisherman off the coast in Kemaman, Terengganu, about 185km away from where the two kayakers were last seen.

Yesterday, the MMEA said locals were also assisting in the search for Mr Tan.

 
 
 
 

"Residents of the area will also provide information if there are any discoveries, as a notice has been made," the agency said.

"Locals and fishermen are also assisting in the search of islands around Kemaman, starting from Kuantan to Kerteh, Terengganu."

The pair were part of a 15-strong group from Singapore who were on a five-day expedition to the Endau islands near Mersing over Singapore's National Day long weekend.

They became separated from the rest of the group in choppy waters.

On Tuesday, their bright green kayak was discovered by another fisherman upturned in open waters near Tanjung Gelang in Pahang state. The fisherman had the kayak towed to shore, found Mr Tan's mobile phone among the items retrieved from inside it and contacted Mr Tan's family.

The kayak was then transported by the Malaysian authorities to Penyabong Jetty in Mersing, where the families of the two paddlers were waiting for news of their loved ones.

Before Madam Puah's body was found on Wednesday, family members had verified the pair's belongings, including the food they had packed for the expedition.

As well as her three children, Madam Puah also leaves behind her husband, 56-year-old retired accounts manager Peng Mun Kit. His daughter said he was "holding up".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2019, with the headline 'Son confirms woman kayaker's death in emotional post'. Print Edition | Subscribe