SINGAPORE – The daughter of taxi driver Cheng Teck Hock – who was killed in a high-speed crash involving a Ferrari – will have her school fees taken care of should she qualify for university, while her family will receive “all necessary assistance”, including legal assistance, said Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.
Mr Shanmugam, who is the Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC – where Mr Cheng’s family resides – gave this assurance yesterday when he attended the wake for Mr Cheng at Block 306, Canberra Road.
He said Mr Cheng’s daughter, Stephanie, 21, who recently graduated from a polytechnic, need not give up her hopes of going to university to work and support the family.
Mr Cheng, 52, had been the family’s sole breadwinner.
Mr Shanmugam said: “Education is not an issue here and as long as she qualifies for university, we will make sure it will be taken care of.”
As for the long-term needs of the family, such as their outstanding payment of their five-room HDB flat, Mr Shanmugam said that “a package will be put together” with help from the constituency’s welfare fund, NTUC, Mr Cheng’s employer ComfortDelGro, voluntary welfare organisations and well-wishers.
Details of the help that will be given have not been discussed as the family has called for time to grieve, he added.
Mr Cheng died after a crash early on Saturday morning involving a Ferrari, his taxi and a motorcycle. The Ferrari driver, Mr Ma Chi, was killed, as was Mr Cheng’s passenger, Ms Shigemi Ito.
Mr Ma’s passenger, an unknown Chinese woman, and motorcyclist Muhammad Najib Ghazali, 25, are still in hospital.
Mr Cheng had been a taxi driver for 10 years. He leaves behind his wife, two sons and a daughter.
In today’s political climate, it’s quite normal to see the MP rushing down to his constituent’s residence in the event of a tragedy. The MP offering his condolences and whatever assistance to his constituent’s sudden tragedy as in this case the sole bread winner, taxi driver Mr Cheng where he was tragically killed by a speeding Farrari is the ‘new normal.’
I didn’t really bother to read the finer details cuz by now almost everyone would have heard of the shocking news and even seen the scary video footage accident on You Tube or Razor TV. It’s been making its rounds via email and Whatsapp!
But what struck me was Mr Shanmugam’s prominent photo shot where he was seen carrying joss sticks to pay his respects to the deceased taxi driver Mr Cheng who lived in his ward. That was the best picture I have ever seen since that tragic accident with all the twisted, mangled wreckage.
In a typical traditional Chinese funeral whenever someone comes up to the altar to light joss sticks to pay respects to the deceased, the children or grandchildren of the deceased shall kneel on the side of the altar with heads bowed. This is to return the respect to that person lighting the joss sticks. It’s a reciprocal process.
Minister Shanmugam is a non-Chinese. Yet he carried the joss sticks to pay his respects to the deceased who lived in his constituency. It shows his sincerity and he has gone all the way to offer his condolences to the family members beyond words. His action speaks volume of him. This action will forever etch on my mind and I’m sure many others’ minds also.
That poignant image of him certainly strikes a chord with the Chinese community especially those older Chinese. It’s the talk topic of those elderly folks in the coffee shops. Never in recent memory have they come across an Indian Cabinet Minister lighting joss sticks paying respects to a commoner’s funeral.
Minister Shanmugam’s magnanimous gesture not only won over the deceased family’s 心 or hearts but many other countless heartlander Chinese. Whatever previous mistakes or perceived arrogance on his part if any; with this kind gesture are all wiped out and obliterated. This is how a shrewd politician should conduct himself. No need high IQ but just plain common sense and common empathy. Not every Minister or MP could or would do that.
Remember the case where it was rumoured that a Minister refusing to shake hand with fishmongers in the wet market or immediately washing the hand after that? There was a video played over and over again on another ex-Minister’s half hearted hand shaking touch-and-go with a stall holder?
I am very much impressed with our honorable Minister Shanmugam’s kind empathy. Three cheers to his excellency!