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Search for last missing Singaporean kayaker called off; family expressed “heartfelt thanks” to all involved 

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The search for the remaining missing Singaporean kayaker, 62-year-old Tan Eng Soon, is called off by Malaysian authorities on Sunday night, Aug. 18.

Tan’s family issued a statement through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Monday, Aug. 19 expressing their “heartfelt thanks” to everyone who made efforts to help in the search and to all those who supported them during this difficult time.

Ever since Tan and his kayak partner, fellow Singaporean Josephine Puah Geok Tin, went missing on a kayaking trip in Malaysia on Aug. 8, the whole nation has waited with bated breath while the search for the missing kayakers ensued.

Puah’s body found

Photo: Josephine Puah Geok Tin/Facebook

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Puah’s body was found on Aug. 14, soon after identified by her family, who said that the 57-year-old lived a “wonderful and glorious life”.

“You’ve led a wonderful and glorious life. You did what you love to do till the very end,” wrote Louis Pang, Puah’s son.

“Rest in peace, Mummy. I love you.”

Arrangements were made for the return of Puah’s remains to Singapore.

Search for Tan called off by authorities

Photo: Tan Eng Soon/Facebook

The search continued for Tan’s body, even as his son pleaded with Malaysia authorities on Aug. 15 not to give up their efforts to find his father.
But when “no more new clues were found” after Puah’s body was found, the authorities announced that they were calling off the search on Sunday, Aug. 18.

Family of Tan says thank you

After the announcement, Tan’s family published a heart-wrenching statement through the MFA on Monday evening.
They expressed their “heartfelt thanks” to everyone who made an effort to search for Tan, and to all those who gave them support during an especially difficult time, noting that Tan “loved the sea” and “will be at peace there”.

“We, the family of Tan Eng Soon, would like to thank the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and all other organisations that have been involved in the search for him. The support and compassion of the local fishermen and community has also touched us and given us strength through this difficult time.

We would also like to offer our heartfelt thanks to the Singapore MFA who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to be with us every step of the way.

Although we could not find his body, we take heart that he loved the sea and he will be at peace there.”

MFA expresses sympathies to both families

In wrapping up the intense operation following the sorrowful incident, the MFA issued its own statement.

First, to the grieving families of Tan and Puah, the MFA expressed its “deepest sympathies” for their loss and shared its thoughts and prayers.

They also thanked the Malaysian government for their tireless work, calling out the different organisations, local agencies, community members and fishermen who gave their fullest efforts in the search operations.

The MFA also said:

“We express our deepest sympathies to the families of the two Singaporeans involved in a mishap while kayaking in Mersing, Malaysia. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families during this difficult time.

It expressed the deep appreciation of the Singapore government to the Malaysian government and all Malaysian agencies involved in the Search and Rescue (SAR) operations over the past 10 days.

The statement said the search operation was an intensive, during which assets and manpower were deployed in challenging conditions that covered a vast area of waters off the Malaysian states of Johor, Pahang and Terengganu.

“We are especially grateful to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), who led the SAR efforts and coordinated amongst the various Malaysian agencies both on the ground and at sea.

“We have also been heartened by the support and assistance of ordinary Malaysians from all walks of life, especially the fishermen in the area who played a critical role in the recovery efforts,” said the statement.

Rest in peace, Pang and Tuah. /TISG

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