Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eulogy of Tan Swee Kiang

39 years may seem short compared to an average person. But Swee Kiang has left behind fond memories to those who have known him.

He was a bubbly little toddler who was always giving the most adorable smile when dad would proudly snap his pictures. As a young boy, his idol was Bruce Lee. He dreamt and acted like him, often using me as his sparing partner, which gave rise to the unnecessary fights which mum would frown upon.

Deep within him laid a very compassionate heart for people, especially people who are needy, sick and poor. It must be the injuries that he saw in those kong-ku movies that sparked his interest in first-aid. His journey began with St John’s Brigade at Christ Church Secondary School, and carried on till he was almost 30 years old.

I could always remember the many weekends where he would bring groups of young teenage boys to our house to conduct extra first-aid lessons. Many of these boys became his great pals. Many remembered him as a passionate and dedicated first-aid instructor, always incorporating fun, always ready to shower them with treats after lessons.

He was a filial son. With his first aid knowledge, he was always ready to provide help and advise whenever someone in the family needs any first-aid related attention. He was very close to mum and dad, always on the look out for the latest food outlets to bring them to, or just bringing their favorite supper or dessert home after work.

Swee Kiang loved children very much. He would often bring our neighbors’ kids home to baby-sitting them; and they would have a ball of a time. Very naturally, when his first nephew, Lik Xian arrived in 1994, his attention was on him all the time. He would miss out on friend’s outing just to be with his little emperor, as he would call him. His three nephews and 2 nieces took centre-stage in his life in the last 12 years. He would generously shower them with birthday presents way in advanced. His special treats to Wild, Wild Wet and Escape Theme Park Adventure, Mache & Swenson’s restaurants, the MRT rides and many more, have left behind fond memories in his nephews and nieces. He would readily offer to shuttle my kids to their classes or baby-sit them whenever I was away or busy.

Swee Kiang’s life exemplified “It’s more blessed to give then to receive”. He would generously give of his time and money to the poor and needy.

During his 3 ½ months stay in the hospital, he was blessed with very professional and dedicated doctors and nurses. We were much relieved as we knew his needs were met by their professional care and love.

Today, we rest upon the knowledge and assurance that he has returned home to our Lord, where there is no more pain, sickness or sufferings. We are comforted that we will join him one day, and our separation is only temporal.

Kiang, we love you and will miss you. Though we wish you are here with us longer, we know that the place you are now is better than the place here. We cherish the loving memories that you have placed into each of our lives.

Kiang, you have been a filial and loving son, a caring and wonderful brother, a doting and fun-loving uncle, a dedicated and passionate mentor and instructor, a true and great pal, a wonderful creation whom God send to add extra blessings to lives.

Till we meet again,
Your sis, Milly

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

From Chia Hock (Alex Chew) to SK

I took too long to churn out this tribute .. actually, I had already written it on my blog journal but I was kept busy, preparing for my tutorials and exam, so much so that I could not find time to produce a proper one fitting for SK .. until today. So here's a copy of what I've journaled previously with some touching-up ----

What followed after the rain in the late afternoon at Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium, was the sun and its warmth. I believed that's the comfort from God to His loved ones who were grieving for SK, telling them that he is all right, he is already home with Jesus, in this place called Heaven.

The whole thing was pretty quick. One day of wake at Sin Ming on Saturday, followed by cremation on Sunday afternoon at Mandai Crematorium Hall 2. It was probably good because it was what SK would have wanted - short and sweet and quick. In fact, he told me before that he did not even want to have a funeral at all. Some of the guys who were previously under the tutelage of SK, have grown up to be young adults with dreams and a future ahead of them, turned up at the wake to pay their last respects. Their presence bore testimonies of what SK has done for them in their lives, especially the crucial adolescence period. His family was actually comforted by what they saw and heard.

Some of us guys - callan, dexiong, simon_ow, michael, willy, hiong, chew leng, turned up on Sunday to walk that final journey with SK, to bid farewell to my old friend before his body returned to dust. The mood at the encoffin service and the funeral service at the Crematorium was sombre .. very heavy. Guys do tear but most would try to hold back. I heard that the holding back the emotions could be even more painful than crying it out. But then again, it showed the kind of impact and delible marks which SK has left in their hearts.

I'd known SK for almost fifteen to sixteen years when we were pretty active in SJAB. He would be bringing a bunch of students to chiong for public duties to provide frontline first aid to the public and to sustain life and to serve mankind. He would use these opportunities to teach the young cadets the skills, to help build up their characters, to inspire them to be a leader in their own field, to spur them to achieve their dreams and goals. While he was serious in his trainings, he was also able to make his lessons very dynamic, challenging and fun for cadets to learn. Because the scenarios were so dynamic, the cadets were trained to observe, to think and react fast because in first aid, every second is crucial in saving life.

As a friend, he gelled pretty well with most officers and cadets (with the exceptional few whom he could not get along with). Though he was heavily camouflaged with a "Bruce-Lee" personality, if one were to look beyond that and right into his heart, SK was a pretty kind and compassionate man (a gentle giant to be precise) who was, and still is, loved and respected by many who had really known him. Through my eyes and as far as I had known, SK was also a dotting uncle to all his nieces and nephews, and a filial son.

When I heard the news, I was saddened and it became heavy in my heart. But when I saw that sun and the warmth breaking through the clouds outside the crematorium, I knew that he is already home into His embrace.

SK has left a legacy in the lives of many. We honour SK for all that he had done and we thank God for him.

Farewell, my friend. Till we meet again in Heaven one day.

[Just a short note - I am supposed to do a video tribute for SK, and I'll still be doing it.. but I'm still short of photos ... if anyone who knows SK and has photos of him in it, please make it available online with hyperlinks via this blog... thanks !!!]

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Memories of SK - dexiong

I knew Swee Kiang through St John Ambulance Brigade (SJAB) in my secondary school, St Joseph's Institution. Back then, I had joined SJAB only in Sec 2 (1993), and together with Chia Hock, SK was our first aid instructor.

In those early years of my life, SK was firstly a fantastic and knowledgeable instructor who could come up with the most complex first aid "cases", which were mock practical casualties, that we were trained to solve. My fellow bunch of SJAB boys from SJI, learnt a great deal of knowledge, discipline, and endured physical training which comprised of Ma3 bu4 (horse steps kung fu style), and casualty evacuation techniques. Many weekends were spent at training for the first aid competitions that we frequently won under his tutelage, and SK and Chia Hock were also generous with the frequent makan treats we had at several buffet places, the most memorable was the one at the Concourse basement which we ate till it closed down sometime later!

SK was also a proficient mandarin pop singer - he loved melancholic songs best, like Zhang Yu, Jeff Chang, and Su You Peng, which I've all included the Music Videos (MVs) below. SJAB training camps were lively singing sessions in the evenings after training, and I would say my interest in singing must also have been brought out from all those SJAB days!

A few years later, I was in the army, and there were also trips we took - Chia Hock, SK and I to Bintan. In 2003 when I was studying at Wharton and working in Philadelphia on a year long technopreneurship minor program, SK came to Syracuse in New York to study sleep studies for a few weeks. I played host and received/sent him at and back to the JFK airport, and to his lodging in Syracuse. Over the few weeks, we went for a 2 big roadtrips, 1 to Niagara Falls which I brought 8 other friends in 2 cars, and another to the beautiful Cayuga Fingerlakes also in Upstate New York. My time in US was made more memorable, by having SK over the few trips. By that time, he was already a trusted old friend for 10 years, and I'm sure he enjoyed the company and had an equally fabulous time in the US!

I will remember SK as firstly a good mentor in my critical formative years, as he guided the group of us like a big brother. SJI was a place where you could as easily turn into a delinquent as a good student, and because of SK and SJAB, fortunately turned to be the latter. He was also a dependable and good friend, the kind of steady friend that you know you can count on, and who will make a difference. And he was a filial son and caring uncle, who would only 'forsake' us from outings for his parents' or little emperor.

Sometime late 2006, I had booked a chalet in Downtown East and rung SK up to organize a rare get together for the SJAB folks from SJI, and he and many other good buddies agreed to come to. Sadly, that was to be the last time I got to speak with SK, as he was warded in ICU a week plus later.

SK, you have certainly made a great impact in my life, and I will remember you for all the lessons, bowling sessions, singing, eating and trips. This is but a small favour I could do for you. Maybe the bunch of us will have an annual bowling, singing and mahjong session in your memory.

Luckily for us, I cajoled SK into taking several more pictures while he was in the US, than he would have liked then. Memories of our good friend are attached below. Enjoy.

Tribute to Tan Swee Kiang

This Blog is started to record our fond memories of Tan Swee Kiang, a great friend, pal, teacher, mentor and brother to those whom knew him.

More pictures and tributes will be recorded soon. Also, his favourite karaoke tunes - Zhang Yu, Jeff Chang, Su You Peng etc will be added from YouTube for listening and viewing pleasure.

Please email your to tansweekiang [at] gmail [dot] com, which will be re-routed to our friendly blog administrator.