Man, 76, dies, friends appealing for his estranged daughter to see him off at Punggol wake

Friends of the deceased man hope the woman can come forward.

Belmont Lay | Fiona Tan | April 19, 2022, 05:01 PM

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A man in Singapore died recently at 76 years of age, and his friends are appealing for his estranged daughter to step forward to see her late father off one last time at his wake before April 20.

The late Ong Kit Leng's last wish before he passed on was to be reunited with his only daughter, Ong Li Li, who is believed to be in her 50s now.

Daughter fell out with father more than 20 years ago

Details of why and how the pair fell out are sketchy, but according to Shin Min Daily News in a 2019 report, the father and daughter had lost contact in 1999, some 23 years ago.

The 2019 news published then was the late man's attempt to seek out his daughter by going to the press, after attempts to find her online came up short.

At that time, he was already in poor health and in and out of hospital, and was worried his time would be up before he got to meet Li Li again.

Li Li has a son who is likely to be about 28 years old now.

Ong's story was published in 2019. Image from Shin Min newspaper clipping from 2019.

Stomped off one day during Chinese New Year

According to Ong, his daughter stomped off angrily one day during Chinese New Year more than two decades ago.

She had gone to visit her father with her her son, who was only four years old then.

During that visit, Ong supposedly made a passing remark as a joke, when he said the only difference to Li Li’s yearly Chinese New Year visit was that he had to prepare an additional red packet.

That triggered his daughter.

It occurred after Ong had passed them their red packets.

Ong said to Shin Min back in 2019: “I looked forward to seeing Li Li during the next and subsequent Chinese New Year after the incident and was disappointed during the past years when she did not show up.”

He had tried to contact Li Li by calling her, but to no avail.

Ong also went to Li Li’s house in Woodlands, only to discover that the flat had been sold and she had moved elsewhere.

He told the Chinese newspaper that he wished to make amends and apologise to his daughter in person before he passed on.

“My condition might deteriorate and I might pass away at any time. Before that happens, I hope to find my daughter and tell her ‘I’m sorry, please forgive your father’,” Ong told Shin Min.

Father-daughter relationship not the closest

According to Corine Tan, who was the deceased man's goddaughter, Ong had separated from his wife and was not close to his nine siblings.

However, he also had a godson and was close to the people at his temple, where he used to perform rituals as a medium for 35 years while also doing odd jobs.

Ong's relationship with his daughter was distant but cordial.

Li Li stayed with Ong's ex-wife, while he stayed in a one-room rental flat in Ang Mo Kio, according to Tan.

As a result, the father and daughter grew distant over time and did not communicate much, but the relationship was apparently reciprocal.

Tan added that Ong even used to go to Li Li’s house in Woodlands occasionally to live with her and her son, but he stopped doing so after Ong’s ex-wife moved back in with their daughter.

Li Li would also pay Ong a visit at his house from time to time.

She would also visit him every Chinese New Year without fail, until the pair fell out.

Tan holding Shin Min Daily New newspaper at Ong's wake. Image by Fiona Tan.

Godchildren and friends join in search

Over the past few years, Ong was helped by his godchildren and friends to search for his daughter.

They have turned to social media platforms, such as Facebook, where posts have been put up to contact Li Li but to no avail.

Besides two of Li Li's old photos, her name, age, and prior occupation as an assistant at a private clinic, no other current information on her is available.

Li Li when she was younger. Image courtesy of Neo.

Passed away on April 16, wake is until April 20

According to Tan, Ong was hospitalised up till his death at around 4:30am on April 16.

He passed away in his sleep.

Before he passed, Tan said Ong always asked about his daughter's whereabouts, despite his breathing difficulties.

Tan said she is appealing to members of the public with information on Li Li and to those who have seen Ong’s obituary in the newspaper to contact her.

Ong's wake is held at the multipurpose hall at Block 113 Edgefield Plains, and he will be cremated at 2pm on April 20.

Image from Zaobao news clipping.

Top photos by Fiona Tan & courtesy of Corine Tan