Family and friends say goodbye to Wong Sai Wan

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With strict social distancing and mask-wearing observed, around 30 people gathered at the Xiao En Centre in Jalan Kuari, Cheras, to pay their final respects to Malay Mail editor-in-chief Datuk Wong Sai Wan before his cremation.

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Starting at 9am, the mourners and well-wishers paid their last respects, offered incense, and greeted each other.

By 10am, the congregants were ushered into the hall where his altar and casket were and queued up and took turns for the final viewing of Wong’s remains.

His children Wong Chee Mun and Wong Yik Pen stood by their father’s altar on each side and made the customary bows to the mourners as they took their turns.

Wong’s colleagues and friends, led by Malay Mail publisher Datuk Siew Ka Wei, also took part in the funeral service.

Chee Mun spoke briefly, thanking those in attendance for being present to support his family at his father’s sudden passing.

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After a 10-minute break, the congregants were ushered back into the hall for eulogies.

Siew eulogised Wong as a very dear friend who was more like a partner and an elder brother, rather than merely a company employee.

“He was like an older brother, even though I am seven years his senior. He was a man for all seasons and an exceptional media icon.

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“He has been in the news, writing and making it, and made himself trusted, loved and respected by those who knew him,” he said.

The visibly emotional Siew, who paused at times to recollect himself, said the tributes and outpouring of respect by both the public and prominent figures, including the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, is a form of respect that cannot be bought but must instead be earned.

“He had a big heart and helped everyone who deserved it and sometimes helped those who did not.

“In a way, he was like the Marvel character Iron Man, able to overcome any and every obstacle before him,” he said.

Wong’s eldest brother, former Kampung Tunku state assemblyman Datuk Dr Wong Sai Hou spoke in Cantonese briefly, thanking the attendees for coming.

“We were five brothers, now three are gone, leaving us two left.

“Ah Wan always had big dreams, and he managed to reach the top to achieve them. It is difficult for me to think that I will never see my little brother again,” he said.

Following the eulogies, a final ritual was performed by the funeral director beside the casket, before it was transported to the waiting hearse downstairs.

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The cortege proceeded to the Cheras Crematorium for the cremation ceremony. Wong’s ashes will be taken to Nilal, Negri Sembilan tomorrow for interment.

Wong, whose long career in journalism began in 1984, passed away on Friday (May 14) from heart-related issues, aged 59. – MMO