BUTTERWORTH: Teacher Chin Aik Siang (left) joined a few students for their dragon boat training for the first time yesterday. It was to be his last ever outing.
Aik Siang, 28, drowned after the boat capsized during the training exercise off Weld Quay.
"We've never seen him before. It was his maiden outing at sea with his students," Penang Forward Sports Club member Lee Kean Ewe said.
Student Kuah Zi Xun, 17, said Aik Siang only took up the post as the school's dragon boat team adviser recently.
He had been teaching Mathematics and Science at Chung Ling High School for a year.
Aik Siang's father Chin Joo Mong, 60, a durian seller, said the youngest of four siblings was especially close to his mother, Lee Bee Hong, 58.
"I cannot believe he is gone. He was having dinner with her last night, and now he has left us," Joo Mong said when met at his Jalan Mohd Saad flat in Bagan Jermal yesterday.
He said his son was obedient and did not have any bad habits.
After finishing teaching in the afternoon school session, he would usually return home, he said.
Joo Mong said Bee Hong told him that Aik Siang left home at 6am yesterday for co-curricular activities in school yesterday.
He said Aik Siang, who pursued a degree in Education in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) had originally wanted to become a doctor but later changed his mind and opted for teaching.
"I do not blame anyone over the incident. He was just doing his job," Joo Mong said.
Meanwhile, Jason Ch'ng (right), the student who died, was very active in school.
"Ch'ng was president of the Leo Club, secretary of the Peer Counselling Society and vice-president of the Judo Club. He was also involved in organising a forthcoming charity food fair for the Leo Club," said his good friend Eric Tan Leong Yik, 17. He said they had last met during a futsal match on Saturday.
Tan claimed that one of his friends had been the first to alert the police as soon as he came ashore.
SM Chung Ling Alumni vice-president Teoh Peick Seong said the students and families affected by the tragedy would be given counselling.
The school's principal, Chua Yau Chou offered his condolences to the families of those who died.