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Shaffiq Alkhatib
Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Singapore

He dies after mum leaves bedside

The New Paper | Shaffiq Alkhatib | Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

FAREWELL: Madam Goh was getting ready for bed on Sunday evening when she received news that her son had died.

She had just got back to Singapore on Sunday night when she received a phone call that she had been dreading.

The Johor Baru (JB) hospital where her son was warded told her that he had died.

Madam Goh's son, Mr Stephen Lew Soon Kiang, 42, had set himself on fire in JB on Saturday morning.

The Singaporean had bought petrol from a kiosk there, walked to a nearby kerb, doused himself with the highly flammable liquid and set himself alight.

A passer-by reportedly put out the flames with a fire extinguisher but it was already too late.

Mr Lew suffered more than 80 per cent burns on his body and was rushed to JB's Sultanah Aminah Hospital, where he later died.

Speaking from her flat at Block 303, Hougang Avenue 5 yesterday, his mother, who only wanted to be known as Madam Goh, 73, told The New Paper that she had been keeping vigil at his bedside since Saturday.

She burst into tears when she recalled the night she received the terrible news.

Said Madam Goh: "I reached home at around 10pm on Sunday and was getting ready for bed when the hospital called to tell me that my son had just died.

MISS HIM

"I only have two sons and I will miss him so much."

The petite elderly woman added that she will have to take care of Mr Lew's two-year-old daughter, with the help of her elder son.

She declined to reveal details about the girl. The girl's mother is married to another man.

Mr Lew's elder brother, Nick, 46, had earlier told TNP that the woman had left his brother and the family had no way of contacting her.

He had also said that his niece had taken on her mother's surname.

Because of this, Madam Goh said yesterday that the family intends to change the girl's surname to "Lew".

"By doing this, it will be easier for us to register her for school later," she said.

According to Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao, the younger Mr Lew, who used to own an apparel company, was due in court for a drug-related offence.

His mother told TNP that she was unaware of this and added: "All I know was that he had his own personal problems."

Mr Lew's body arrived at the wake at the void deck of nearby Block 304 in a white Malaysia-registered van at 4.30pm yesterday.

Madam Goh said that the cremation will take place on Thursday.

ashaffiq@sph.com.sg

HELPLINES
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS):1800-2214444
Singapore Association for Mental Health:1800-2837019
Sage Counselling Centre:1800-5555555
Care Corner Mandarin Counselling:1800-3535800

This article was published on April 15 in The New Paper.

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