Family of missing Singaporean ‘trying to stay positive’ after kayak and belongings found, as search continues

The Malaysian authorities have been conducting an extensive search for two missing Singaporeans, who set off on kayaks with 13 other Singaporeans from a jetty near Mersing on Aug 8, 2019. — Picture courtesy of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
The Malaysian authorities have been conducting an extensive search for two missing Singaporeans, who set off on kayaks with 13 other Singaporeans from a jetty near Mersing on Aug 8, 2019. — Picture courtesy of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency

SINGAPORE, Aug 13 — The kayak of two missing Singaporean kayakers has been found along with their belongings, about 160km from where they set off, the son of one of the pair said in an Instagram post today. 

Louis Pang, 23, who is the son of Josephine Puah Geok Tin, 57, one of the missing kayakers, added that the kayak was found by a fisherman in Kuantan and that the authorities there have been informed.

However, both Puah and her fellow kayaker Matthew Tan Eng Soon, 62, still have not been found, he added.

In his post, Pang also said that “the marine police from Malaysia are currently heading to the fisherman for more details”. 

The post indicated that the fisherman had found Tan’s mobile phone and used it to contact his family members.

First Admiral Aminuddin Abdul Rashid, director of Johor Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), said that the kayak — believed to have been used by Puah and Tan — was found at about 12.30pm, about 150km away from the search area.

Personal items believed to be from both of them were also found. They included two purses containing Malaysia and Singapore currency notes, a mobile phone, Tan’s passport, a suitcase, an identity card and a paddle, he added.

All items found by the fisherman have been surrendered to the MMEA for further investigation. 

A kayak believed to belong to two missing Singaporeans in the waters of Mersing, was found by local fishermen in the waters of Tanjung Gelang, Kuantan August 13, 2019. — Picture courtesy of MMEA
A kayak believed to belong to two missing Singaporeans in the waters of Mersing, was found by local fishermen in the waters of Tanjung Gelang, Kuantan August 13, 2019. — Picture courtesy of MMEA

Puah and Tan, were reported to have drifted away from their kayaking group of 13 other Singaporeans. 

The group had reportedly set off from Penyabong jetty, about 35km north of Mersing in Malaysia, at about 10am on August 8.

The city of Kuantan, where the kayak has reportedly been found, is about 160km north of Penyabong jetty in Endau, Johor.

The search efforts by the Malaysian authorities started on August 10 and were ramped up two days later. 

Speaking to TODAY, Puah’s children expressed deep concern and worry over their mother’s disappearance and the fervent hope that she will be found soon.

Ranie Pang, 26, Puah’s daughter, said: “To be honest, it’s difficult going through things like this because it’s so unexpected. I basically ‘live’ on my phone now, just constantly waiting for the latest updates.”

Pang added: “She’s one of the strongest women I know. We also know we have to stand strong for (her) because that’s what she would want us to do”. 

Louis Pang also spoke fondly of his mother’s adventurous spirit: “My mummy is always adventurous and always sporty. We often run together and we even signed up (for) the Standard Chartered marathon together this coming year. She often goes for cycling expeditions, rock climbing, hiking, (taking part in) a lot more adventurous activities than I do.” 

However, the family is trying to keep positive through the uncertainty. 

Pang said: “We are definitely anxious but very, very hopeful still. We are trying to stay positive. It’s surely difficult, and I do have occasional meltdowns but that’s okay. We just got to stand together in times like this.” 

Puah and Tan reportedly knew one another before the trip and had some experience kayaking in open waters. — TODAY

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