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Fri, Oct 17, 2008
The New Paper
Grief-stricken hubby gives up on life

By Chong Shin Yen

IT has been said that when you lose a loved one, a part of you dies too.

And that may be true of Mr Drake Poh.

The Singaporean businessman lost his wife and daughter when they were killed by their maid six years ago.

Gone was the love of his life, his companion, his confidante - the woman he had fallen in love with at first sight.

They had been married for only four years when tragedy struck.

And Mr Poh, 50, never got over their deaths.

He lost the will to live.

Last Friday, he died from complications due to kidney failure.

His sister, Madam Jenny Poh, 44, said that he had a kidney transplant in India 16 years ago.

But after his wife's death, Mr Poh stopped watching his diet.

Said Madam Poh, a housewife: 'When his wife was around, she would cook for him and take care of him. She made sure he stuck to a strict and healthy diet.

'After she died, he couldn't be bothered anymore.'

Mr Poh's wife, Madam Angie Ng, 34, and their daughter, Crystal, 3, were stabbed to death in his sixth-storey office at Block 165, Bukit Merah Central, on 28May, 2002.

Their maid, Sundarti Supriyanto, then 22, had set the place on fire. She was found outside the burning unit by firefighters, carrying the couple's son, Leon, who was then 18 months old.

Sundarti was jailed for life for manslaughter in September 2004. (See report on facing page.)

Mr Poh, who has a business in property development, began undergoing dialysis in January after his kidney failed.

He was hospitalised on 3 Oct but his condition took a turn for the worse last Thursday.

His family rushed down to the hospital with Leon, now 8 and a Primary 2 pupil at Tao Nan School.

Madam Poh said that by then, Mr Poh had already slipped into unconsciousness.

Said Madam Poh: 'We were by his bedside and Leon called out to him in tears. He told him, 'Daddy, please don't give up. You have to take care of me'.

'Everyone was teary when we heard what he said.'

She said Mr Poh did not respond but they could see tears rolling down his face.

'We all cried when we saw that. The next day, he passed away peacefully, knowing that we would take good care of Leon,' said Madam Poh.

Mr Poh had earlier suffered a mild stroke, which caused his speech to be slurred. He did not leave any last words.

Madam Poh added that her eldest brother practically gave up on himself after the sudden deaths of his wife and daughter.

'We told him to watch his diet and not to eat food that was too salty or oily,' she said.

'He always nodded his head but once we turned our backs, he would do the opposite. He also took to drinking occasionally with his clients. There wasn't anyone to take care of him.'

Even if Mr Poh was thinking of his wife all these years, he didn't tell his family.

Perhaps it was because he was stubborn and had a strong character, and preferred to keep his feelings to himself.

He was closest to Madam Poh among his four siblings, as she has a son who is a year older than Leon.

Said Madam Poh: 'He wouldn't tell me how much he missed his wife. But sometimes, when I visited him at his flat, he would sit quietly in a corner lost in his thoughts.

'I knew he was thinking of her. They were very loving and it was impossible for him to forget her.'

Back then, Mr Poh had asked for a burial for his wife and daughter because he could not bear to have them cremated.

Said Madam Poh: 'He told me then that they had been burnt in the fire and he couldn't endure seeing them being 'burnt' a second time.'

Mr Poh was cremated yesterday morning. Leon will be taken care of by Mr Poh's younger brother and their 72-year-old mother.

Irreplaceable

Madam Poh said her heart aches whenever she thinks of Leon, who has become an orphan at a young age.

She said: 'We can love and take care of him, but the love from his parents is irreplaceable. It would be hard for him growing up without them.'

Although it was tough for Mr Poh to play the roles of both mother and father, he made sure he gave Leon double the love.

The boy was Mr Poh's only source of joy and hope, and he had clung on even more to his only surviving child.

He cut down on his business trips, leaving them to his partner, and would always make time for Leon no matter how busy he was.

'He would take the boy to the library or shopping centres during the weekends just to spend quality time with the boy,' said Madam Poh.

'He told me that if he didn't do that, his son would be so lonely and bored. He said that they have only each other to depend on.'

In order to secure a position for his son at Tao Nan School, the devoted father even joined the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan and became a school volunteer.

Madam Poh added: 'He told me that if Leon went to a good school and started off well, he is less likely to go astray.'

To ensure that his son is effectively bilingual, Mr Poh would speak to Leon in English but would coach him in Chinese every day after work.

Leon was looked after by a Filipino maid when Mr Poh was at work. But the doting father was cautious.

He avoided leaving Leon alone with her. Mr Poh's mother, who lives in the next block, would go over and help to take care of him.

The boy, who could barely talk when he lost his mother and sister, has faint memories of them. But it was evident that he misses them.

Said Madam Poh: 'Every few weeks, he would ask his dad to take him to their graves. He wanted to give them fresh flowers and talk to them.

'But now, his dad can no longer take him there.'

Mr Poh and his wife met in 1996. Mr Poh had gone to a friend's office to discuss work and Madam Ng was working there as a quantity surveyor.

She was 27 while he was 37. But their age gap was no barrier.

He took one look at her and asked his friend whether she had a boyfriend.

She did not and later that day, the three of them went out for coffee. Mr Poh hit if off with Madam Ng and they began dating.

Two years later, in December 1998, they got married. She then began working for him in his office.

Until that day when he received a call that she was gone forever.

'If my sister-in-law had been around to look after him, I'm sure he would be able to live much longer,' said Madam Poh.

'Till his death, he never got over what happened. He died with a broken heart.'

 

This article was first published in The New Paper on 15 Oct 2008.


 
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