Family now comes first for formerly 'busy' doctor who lost his son

This recent photo of Dr Ko and Steven is still part of a collage on Dr Ko's clinic wall.

KLANG - After losing his son in May, skin specialist Dr Ko Chung Beng no longer works on Sundays. Instead, he spends more time with his family.

"When I looked at my son's ashes, I realised that when you leave this world, you can't bring anything that you have worked so hard for with you.

"Now, family is the most important thing in my life and my work comes second," he said.

Although reliving the moment prior to his son's death is painful, Dr Ko does not mind going through the anguish rather than see another child die a senseless death.

"Painful as it is, if what happened to me can be a lesson to other parents, and if it can help to save lives or improve parent-child relationships in this country, then I feel that something positive has come out of this sad incident," said Dr Ko in an interview.

Steven, his 24-year-old son, was found dead at the ground floor of a shopping mall multi-storey car park in Penang in May.

Since then, Dr Ko has been frank about his feelings and thoughts over Steven's death.

"My regret is that like many other parents, I was always busy working. I felt that I had not spent enough time with my children to guide them and teach them about life.

"I think that was why Steven tended to spend more time with his friends and became very reliant on friendships," he said, adding that the reliance might have made Steven value those friendships even more than life.

It is due to this that Dr Ko has repeatedly called on parents in press interviews and talk circuits to spend more quality time with their children especially when they are young.

"Have a lot of heart-to-heart talks, share your feelings and thoughts.

"When you are having deep conversations you are connected. And when you are connected, you can communicate," he added.

Dr Ko also lamented that the young today might be suffering from overemphasis on academic qualifications.

"Parents tend to overemphasise on IQ development, but we musn't neglect the EQ (emotional quotient) and character-building component which is more important," he said.

He said parents must ensure that children read books that teach them about life rather than just focusing on books related to exams.

Dr Ko and his daughter Emily both love books, and they now dream of building a public library in memory of Steven.

He also urged children to always remember that their family should be more important to them than friends.

"They may feel more comfortable with friends with whom they share many common interests, but if they face any problem, they should share it with their parents because parents have more experience in life," he said.

Dr Ko also reminded parents never to take signs of distress lightly.

"When your children tell you that they feel lost, it is no joke. Drop everything and spend time with them until they tell you why because it can be very serious," he said, adding that Steven had also said that he felt lost some weeks before his death.

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