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Sunday, February 12, 2012

S'pore family dies in M'sian car wreck

Sulaiman Kamal | 5:01 AM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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A SINGAPOREAN family's trip to Malaysia for a happy occasion - a relative's wedding - ended in a tragic accident that claimed four lives.

A 62-year-old woman, Madam Aminah Adom, 62, died on the spot.

Her husband, Haji Mohd Yasin Husin, 75, who was driving, and their Indonesian maid, Ms Suriati, 30, died in Kemaman Hospital, Terengganu.

His granddaughter, Nor Istiharah, 12, died while being transferred from Kemaman Hospital to Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan, Pahang.

The only survivor was Nor Istiharah's 17-year-old brother, Taufik Hidayat.

Mr Mohd Yasin's son and nephew told The New Paper that he was used to long drives and often went on road trips to Malaysia with his family.

But at Kemaman, about 100km from their destination of Kuala Terengganu in the north-east state of Terengganu, his car skidded and hit a barrier at the side of the road.

As the car spun, an oncoming vehicle smashed into it.

The accident occurred at 1.15pm on the Kuala Terengganu-Kuantan road near the state's skills upgrading institute, IKBN.

The deputy police chief of Kemaman district, Deputy Superintendent Abdul Marlik Hakim Johar, said Mr Mohd Yasin had lost control of his Mitsubishi Lancer after skidding on the two-lane coastal road.

The car spun several times after hitting the road barrier.

Mr Abdul Marlik told The New Paper over the phone yesterday: "At the same time, a four-wheel-drive car driven by a tourist from the United Kingdom collided into the (Mitsubishi Lancer) as it could not avoid it in time.

"This caused the driver, the front passenger and the passengers in the back to be trapped."

The British national, who was alone and on his way back to the Awana Kijal resort, escaped with minor injuries.

Mr Mohd Yasin's nephew, Mr Mahadir Jemain, 41, said he was informed of the accident in an SMS from his sister.

He said: "I was shocked and upset. When you read about road accidents in Malaysia, it always involves fatalities."

The IT administrator said the family had left Singapore in three cars on Thursday morning.

The car driven by Mr Mohd Yasin left at 4.30am, about an hour later than the other two. They were aiming to reach the relative's house in Kemaman by 2pm.

Mr Mahadir said the wedding will go on today but the mood is sombre.

The last time he saw his uncle was when they went to Batu Pahat, Johor, to attend another wedding three months ago.

When The New Paper visited Mr Mohd Yasin's West Coast flat, a steady stream of relatives, friends and neighbours showed up to ask about the victims and offer prayers.

They said they knew the retired Malay language teacher for his four loves - road trips, family, teaching and cats.

Mr Mahadir said: "My uncle loved taking the family on road trips, whether it's to Johor to buy groceries or holidays in Malaysia or for family functions."

They have relatives in various parts of Malaysia, including Negri Sembilan and Terengganu.

Mr Mohd Shariff, 45, the eldest of the dead man's four children, said his father also used to go to Johor to tend to a piece of farmland he had bought there.

The security guard, a bachelor, lives in the West Coast flat with his parents and another relative.

He said his parents were close and his father usually took his mother, a housewife, on his drives.

The couple considered their maid of 10 years like a daughter, said relatives.

Doting grandparents

They also doted on their five grandchildren, aged from four to 17.

Mr Mohd Shariff said: "They would plan family lunches whenever they could. If my mother didn't go with my father on the trips, she would always remind him to buy snacks or biscuits for the children."

Mr Mahadir remembered a piece of advice from his uncle.

He said: "My uncle always reminded us that, since we have a small family, we have to stay together, try to get along and always remember to call on each other."

That's why Mr Mohd Yasin made it a point to frequent family functions, even if they involved long drives to Malaysia, he said.

Mr Quek Kin Hock, 72, a neighbour from a floor above who was at the flat yesterday, described Mr Mohd Yasin as friendly.

He said: "He was an active person and looked healthy. He never failed to make small talk and we had become good neighbours. Sometimes I helped him wash his car."

Mr Mohd Yasin's next-door neighbour, Mr Junawa, 61, said: "He was passionate about his teaching. He was also keen on volunteer work and would often help out at the mosque nearby."

Mr Junawa had known his neighbour for almost 30 years since they moved in around the same time in the 80s.

Mr Mohd Shariff said his father was still taking on relief teaching jobs in primary and secondary schools after retiring more than 10 years ago.

"He loved teaching. It was his only job and he gained a doctorate for it," he said.

Mr Mohd Yasin also loved cats. Among the stack of photographs that Mr Mohd Shariff showed us of his family, about 10 were of his father's two cats.

After they died, he took to feeding the stray cats around his block. Some cat food could be seen just outside his door near the staircase.

Said his son: "He was known as the man who feeds the cats in this block."

Added Mr Quek: "If he didn't have time to feed the cats, he would take the cat food and hand it to one of us at the void deck or resident's corner and ask us to feed them."

The parents of Nor Istiharah went to Terengganu on learning of the accident and returned with the injured Taufik, who was transported in an ambulance to a Singapore hospital.

The bodies of Mr Mohd Yasin and Madam Aminah are also on the way back.

Ms Suriati's parents in Cilacap in Java have been informed and representatives from the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia are liaising with her family.


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