On this National Day of Remembrance, it was brought home to me once again what it means to be Singaporean.
This day was for us to remember those who died in the Sabah quake -Terrence (the teacher), Daanish (the adventure guide) and Peony, Ameer, Emilie, Matahom, Rachel and Sonia (the students), while we hope against hope for Mohammad Ghazi and Navdeep Singh who are still missing.
At the SEA Games, we scored golds, including getting our first ever netball gold yesterday, and breaking the 50m freestyle record today.
Happiness mingled with sadness.
I visited Sonia’s wake today. I was touched by her family’s strength and fortitude. Her parents mourned her death but they also celebrated how much she achieved in her young life. They said to know her was to love her.
In their grief, they generously remembered others, making it a point to tell Minister Heng Swee Keat and myself how much they appreciated the support from the principal and teachers of TKPS, as well as the MOE team in Sabah, with an especial word of thanks for DS Lim Boon Wee, and to the SAF for bringing them and Sonia home.
Her mum said Sonia was an avid netball player. She played Wing Defence. She had attended the first few matches of our national netball team in the SEA Games to cheer them on before leaving for Sabah and was sorry that she was going to miss the netball final because of her trip.
Her uncle told me that our national netballers came to see Sonia today. They came to show their support for family of the girl who had supported them. They gave Sonia the hexagonal light medallion from the SEA games pack, signed with their names – so she now has her own SEA games netball “medal”. Their thoughtful gesture and solidarity for Sonia meant a lot to the family.
Also attended Terrence’s wake this evening. CNA reported a parent as saying that Terrence had “helped a bunch” before going back up again to help others. His selflessness saved others. His family can be proud of him, even as they mourn him. Friends, NS mates, ex-students, teacher colleagues, neighbours and relatives were all there to lend support the family.
This reminded me anew what it means to be Singaporean – strength,courage, duty, kindness – and being there for each other, in joy or sorrow, good times and bad. This is what it is to be part of the Singapore family.