Speaking to reporters at her child’s wake at Church of St Teresa on Kampong Bahru Road yesterday, 19-year-old NUS student Kathy’s mother Mrs Jacqueline Ong described her only child as her “soulmate” – a filial daughter who deeply cared for her parents.
Kathy passed away on Thursday night after a taxi she was in collided into another vehicle at the junction of Clementi Road and Commonwealth Avenue West. The high-impact collision happened so quickly that Kathy was thrown partially out of the window of the cab.
An undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Environmental Science, Kathy had been on the way to buy takeout for a farewell gathering her college’s Ora House had organised for a 130 seniors who were leaving the school, when the tragic accident occurred.
“She told guys ‘no’, if mummy said no”
“We are each other’s soulmate,” Mrs Ong told reporters. Kathy was the child who would unabashedly hold her mother’s hand when they go out. Very close to her mother, Kathy would discuss everything with Mrs Ong – from school, friends, and even potential boyfriends.
Mrs Ong, who shared that both she and Kathy enjoyed doing “brainless things” like chores while chatting about life, said: “Both of us are very open to each other…She always asked me to evaluate those guys who are interested in her, and she’ll listen to my opinion. She told me clearly that she told guys ‘no’, if mummy said no.”
Kathy was so close to her mother that she would regularly raid Mrs Ong’s closet and only wore Mrs Ong’s shoes. Sharing that Kathy was so careful about spending money that she would first stop to raid her closet if she needed new clothes, Mrs Ong said:
“Today I feel so bad. They told me to bring her favourite shoe and I realised that she doesn’t have a favourite shoe because all the events that she attended, she wore my shoes. I was just telling her last week that ‘in your school holidays, you need to shop for a proper shoe’. The ones that she’s wearing now, those are still my shoes.”
Mrs Ong spoke about how deeply Kathy cared about her family. She told Mrs Ong that sh would take her grandfather to her favorite country Australia for a holiday when she gets her first job. Kathy would also “care for me more like I’m her daughter and she’s the mother” according to Mrs Ong who had frequent bouts of ill health after she underwent an organ transplant to help her brother.
Mrs Ong shared that Kathy was especially concerned for her after the organ donation: “She always told me ‘Mummy you cannot leave me’. She made sure to tell me that I cannot die because she needed me to help her choose her husband and to nurture her children to be like her.”
“She always considered her parents”
Kathy stayed at NUS’ dormitory during the week but made sure that she spent time with her parents back home, going back home each weekend. One friend who declined to be named told reporters: “She was very torn. She wanted to stay in (at her dormitory) every weekend but she was the only child, so she also wanted to go back (home).”
Another friend shared that family was a priority for Kathy: “Everything she has done so far, she always considered her parents at every step she took.”
Kathy was not only a filial child, she was a model student – both inside and outside her classroom. Vice Dean for the Faculty of Science Dr Chew Fook Tim shared that Kathy’s passion for biodiversity often extended beyond her school requirements: “She has written a lot of blogposts, some for her assignments but she also did more, and it runs right through that she’s really someone who has a cause, someone who has a passion for biodiversity.”
Dr Chew also described Kathy as a “people person” who knows others “as an individual and a person that she wants to keep contact with.”
Dr Chew’s impression of Kathy matches Master of the college Dr Gregory Clancey’s description of Kathy as a popular girl who had a lot of friends.
Dr Clancey noted that Kathy was “unusually active” as compared to many other students, always keen to volunteer herself in various student groups. Indeed, Kathy took part in a diverse range of activities 0 from science, performance arts, event organisation and was even a part of five to six student body committees.
Dr Clancey recalled: “She joined a lot of different groups, she was interested in so many things. She was in the college’s house committee and bonded the students together. She was very popular, had a lot of friends. She was a serious and yet very cheerful person and that’s why she was always so popular.”
He added: “We’re going to be in grief for a long time as a community.”