Son of missing S'pore kayaker pleads for more to be done in finding mother

The kayakers went missing on the evening of August 9.

Nyi Nyi Thet | August 11, 2019, 09:30 PM

62-year-old Tan Eng Soon and 57-year-old Puah Geok Tin were reported missing on August 9, 2019 while on a kayaking trip with 13 other Singaporeans.

They were thought to have been separated due to strong winds blowing them off course.

A search and rescue mission was mounted at Penyabong jetty at about 3:30 pm on Aug. 9.

This involved personnel from the Endau Police Station, the Marine Operations Force, Civil Defence Department and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

The two Singaporeans were believed to have been traveling in a bright-green kayak.

Malaysian authorities have further widened the search area from 400 nautical miles on Saturday, to more than 500 nautical miles in the same area.

Relatives of the two missing Singaporeans also arrived in Mersing to help with rescue efforts.

Puah's niece admitted to Straits Times that the family was disappointed with the level of urgency the search was currently being conducted with.

She told ST that family was hoping to "get more help from the local fishermen" but acknowledged they were currently "celebrating (Hari Raya Haji) too.”

Puah's son also spoke out on the measures that can still be done to help locate his mother, even though he appreciated all the people that were helping despite it being a holiday.

"It has been 72 hours since she is missing out in the open water in Malaysia, and we still are not able to bring in any Singapore forces to help with the search. On top of it, is definitely not comforting knowing that is a holiday in Malaysia, and everyone is out celebrating, can there be more people going out for the rescue? I'm very thankful for the people that are helping despite it being a holiday, but i know more can be done!"

A point of contention that Louis raised was how slow the entire process regarding outside help was.

Apparently, two private boats had been obtained by the other kayakers to help with the search, but permission for those two boats to take to the sea to help with the rescue efforts took two hours.

"Even approval for just 2 other private boats to help for the search took such excruciating time."

He also appealed for national lines to be put aside for the greater good.

"Is the Malaysian pride that "I must find it myself, since is happening on my ground" getting in the way? Why can't approval be process faster for Singapore forces to come in and help? I am from the Singapore Armed Forces myself and I serve proudly. I understand there are restraints from higher authorities, but in times of emergency, there’s sure ways to push for things to go faster?"

He ended his post reiterating his faith in Singapore, and Singaporeans.

"The people here are doing whatever they can but we are short handed. I have faith in Singapore & I know you won't leave anyone behind."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has sent a team from the Consulate-General in Johor Bahru to assist in ongoing search operations.

Consular assistance is also being rendered to the next-of-kin of the missing Singaporeans.

Image from Louis Smile's Fb page and Ah Fatt Kelong Fishing