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Reward for missing man

Family of missing S'porean Keith Peck offer reward to M'sians helping in the search. -TNP
Bryna Sim

Sun, Oct 02, 2011
The New Paper

THE search for the two missing Singaporeans has been extended by yet another day. At 7pm yesterday, Mr Tan Ah Juan's family was present at the Maritime Enforcement Agency to hear the latest updates.

But they sounded defeated.

"We're just waiting to see his body," said a family member who declined to be named.

Mr Keith Peck's family was not at the agency, but they are not giving up hope yet.

Yesterday morning, Mr Peck's family increased tenfold the reward they are offering for his safe return.

From RM5,000 (S$2,000), they announced that they would give RM50,000 to the person who brings MrPeck back alive.

The announcement was made by Ailyn, the younger sister of Mr Peck's wife, Alison.

Said Ailyn: "There's nothing much we can do except to wait for news. We hope that with this reward, we can really find him soon, alive."

But what if he's dead, a reporter asked.

The question seemed to stun her, and she paused before answering.

"What if he's not alive? I believe we'd still give the person a token of appreciation. The amount, I wouldn't state," she said.

"The priority is really to bring him back alive."

Ailyn said the increased amount was raised with the help of friends and relatives.

By yesterday afternoon, 60 posters with the RM50,000 reward sum had been printed.

They were the brainchild of Mr Abdul Halim, 40, head of the Fishermen's Association of Tanjung Sedili District.

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday in Malay, MrHalim said these posters would be distributed to fishermen heading to Pahang, as it was an effective way of spreading the word to the fishing community there.

He said: "With the current tides flowing in the direction of Pahang, it's likely that the person will be found there.

"The chances now of finding the person in Pahang is higher."

The posters, which were made out of photocopied printouts of TNP's front page on Wednesday, has Mr Peck's picture on it.

Mr Halim's mobile phone number is printed at the top of the posters, and at the bottom is the reward sum, with an arrow pointing to Mr Peck's picture.

Mr Peck's family members had given Mr Halim a copy of TNP's Wednesday front page on Wednesday evening.

He had originally printed 100 copies of the poster yesterday morning, but these had the initial reward sum of RM5,000 on them.

Mr Halim said these had already been distributed to fishermen in Pahang yesterday morning. But not everyone had heard of the increased reward.

Some of the fishermen and boatmen who work near the Tanjung Sedili jetty had not even heard of the original RM5,000 reward, much less the 50,000 one.

One fisherman exclaimed in surprise when we told him about it: "Wow. That's a large sum."

Even so, the fisherman, who wanted to be known only as Mr Feirus, 21, said he would not set out to find Mr Peck.

He explained: "I've a regular job, you know. My boss wouldn't like it."

But he added that since he would be going out to sea to fish yesterday night, he would keep a lookout.

"Let's see if I'm lucky," he said.

Other fishermen said that they didn't want to waste petrol going out to sea since they couldn't be sure if they would find the person.

Some felt that the reward was unnecessary.

Said Mr Xie Jia Shen, 57, who owns five fishing boats: "We already have a culture at sea to help rescue people who are alive."

Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Xie claimed that most of the fishermen in the district wouldn't be motivated by the monetary reward.

"They just don't think like that," he said.

But he said he heard rumours that some small fishing boats had set out to find Mr Peck after learning that there was a reward.

As for the fishermen under his employment, Mr Xie said he would tell them to keep an eye out while at sea.

Search efforts yesterday were hampered by bad weather around Pulau Aur.

Rescue team members from the Maritime Enforcement Agency said there was heavy rain, large waves, thunder and lighting in the area.

Malaysian authorities said last night that search efforts would continue today, but with fewer resources.

Meanwhile, Mrs Peck continued pacing along the jetty at Tanjung Sedili yesterday, a pained expression on her face.

At times, she would look out at the horizon, as if wondering when her husband would return.

Yesterday was the couple's fifth wedding anniversary and they would have celebrated it together.

Their love story began at the Singapore Management University 10 years ago.

Ailyn said her sister did not tell her when they had started dating, but "brought (Mr Peck) home to see the family one day".

'Very bright man'

She said the man struck her as "someone very educated". This was echoed by Mr Peck's colleagues, who said he was "a very bright man with a lot of potential".

Said Ailyn: "My sister and Keith enjoy spending time together with their baby."

Mr Peck's colleagues agreed. They said he was a "balanced man" who made time for his family.

They were also familiar with Mrs Peck, as their families would spend time together.

Since Tuesday, these colleagues, Ailyn and her husband have never been far from Mrs Peck.

Although also anxious for Mr Peck to be found, they have been his wife's pillars of support.

When she was under media scrutiny on Tuesday evening, they were the ones who huddled around her, as though protecting her from the media's glare.

At the meeting with journalists on Wednesday evening, Ailyn and her husband flanked Mrs Peck. And as Mrs Peck walked across the jetty yesterday, Ailyn's husband rushed after her with an umbrella to keep her shaded from the noonday heat, with Ailyn trailing behind.

The three later spent some time chatting by the jetty before heading back to Singapore for a while. Ailyn said her sister has been trying to keep her mind off thinking the worst. She said: "We're just hopeful. Hopeful that he'll be alive."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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