Family holds funeral after body mix-up at hospital resolved

Mr Chee Keong placing the urn containing his father Fong Meng Tuck's ashes in a hearse before his funeral procession in Penang on Friday.
Mr Chee Keong placing the urn containing his father Fong Meng Tuck's ashes in a hearse before his funeral procession in Penang on Friday.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

DNA tests confirm identity of Malaysian man mistakenly cremated by another family

GEORGE TOWN • Family members of an accident victim, whose body was mistakenly claimed by another family and cremated, were finally able to hold a funeral after the mix-up was resolved, Malaysia media reported yesterday.

The urn containing the ashes of Mr Fong Meng Tuck, 60, was carried in a hearse from a flat in Macallum Street Ghaut to a columbarium in Paya Terubong suburb.

The funeral procession began at 2.40pm on Friday, about 20 minutes before it was officially confirmed that the ashes were those of Mr Fong following a DNA test.

Mr Fong was killed in a road accident at 2am on Monday and his body was sent to the Penang Hospital for a post-mortem.

A hospital staff member reportedly released his body to another family by mistake later that day. The staff member has since been suspended from duty.

Among those who paid their last respects were Penang Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) deputy chairman Tan Teik Cheng and Penang Komtar MCA task force chief Tan Hing Teik.

Mr Fong's eldest daughter I Wen, 34, said the family would discuss the next course of action with their lawyers after the funeral.

On Tuesday, Ms I Wen and her brothers Chee Keong, 32, and Chee Hong, 28, gave their blood samples to Penang Hospital for a DNA test to be carried out.

In a press conference on Friday, George Town OCPD Assistant Commissioner Mior Faridalathrash Wahid said the test results confirmed that the body cremated by the other family was that of Mr Fong.

He said that Mr Fong's blood samples were found by the chemistry department to have a percentage similarity of 99.99 per cent with that of his three children.

Forensics investigations revealed that his body was mistakenly given to a 53-year-old woman who went to the mortuary to claim the body of her 73-year-old uncle, Mr Ho Swee Kim, who had died of a heart attack several days earlier.

He said the confusion occurred as there was no physical identification of Mr Ho by the woman, who did not go near the body because she could not stand the smell.

Mr Ho's body was claimed from the Penang Hospital mortuary by a family member at about 8am on Friday.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 27, 2016, with the headline 'Family holds funeral after body mix-up at hospital resolved'. Print Edition | Subscribe