Looking pale and tired, 56-year-old Phang Wei Beng is busy burning hell money in a half-cut metal barrel at the Sibu Mortuary.
Assisted by two of his teenage nieces, he asked them to burn the money or joss paper (spirit paper) slowly, piece by piece according to Chinese customs, to ensure their loved ones would have a safe journey to the netherworld.
Phang then went on to talk with his brother-in-law, asking him to fetch some relatives, before talking to a representative from a funeral service provider.
Nothing can be more heartbreaking than seeing this man trying to the best of his ability to give a proper burial for his loved ones who were tragically snatched away from him.
“I am okay,” he said, when approached by reporters but admitted that he was in a daze.
Looking at his calm face, one can only guess the depth of his grief following the tragic incident at the Triso Ferry Point that took the lives of his wife and two sons on Friday.
His wife Lorna Ting, 33, his two sons, Alvin, 12 and Wallace, seven, died after a four-wheel-drive vehicle they were travelling in with six other family members plunged into the Batang Lupar River last Friday.
Also perished in the tragedy were Lorna’s elder sister Siti Aishah Abdullah, 36, and her five children, Mohd Aiman Mohd Hamzah, seven, Muhd Mustaqin, five, Khairunnisa, 14, Nor Shuhada, 16, and four-month-old Mohd Ahmad. They were on their way to Kuching to send Siti Aishah’s daughters to a madrasah school.
“I am trying to raise some money to proceed with the funeral and I will pick the most affordable option,” he said.
Phang confirmed that the bodies of his loved ones would be cremated, and the ashes would be interred at the Nirvana Memorial Park in Sibu on Tuesday.
Scores of family members from various races and religious backgrounds, from Sibu and Kapit, were at the mortuary to pay their last respects, and were seen giving their words of encouragement to Lorna’s mother Munah Agon, 58, who has been devastated as a result of the incident.
Munah who was travelling in another car driven by his son Ting Hing Soon, was reported to have witnessed how the vehicle which carried her two daughters and seven grandchildren plunged into the water from the jetty.