Sunday, June 18, 2000

Father’s Day worry for Malaysian family

Singapore New Paper

Dad, where are you?

DESPERATELY SEEKING: The full-page ad in Malaysia's New Straits Times looking for Mr Tan Sue Yong.For many families, today comes with a special meal and presents - to honour the man of the house.

But for one family in Malaysia, it will be yet another day fraught with worry.

Their father, Tan Sue Yong, 83, is missing. He suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and wandered off from their home in Yong Peng, Johor, on May 23.

There have been sightings of the 1.6 m-tall old man but the reports always come in just a little too late.

Mr. Tan is constantly on the move.

By the time the family gets to where he was last seen, he has moved on.

The family is so desperate that they have set up a website and put out notices in all the major Malaysian newspapers.

In a full-page notice in the New Straits Times, the family wrote: “We wish all fathers a Happy Father’s Day on June 18 but we may be unable to do so for our father because he has been missing since May 23.”

They have also appealed to everyone to keep an eye out for their dad, who worked as a timber logger and retired at the age of 70.

Mr. Roger Tan, 38, one of the sons, told The New Paper on Sunday last night that this was the second time his father had gone missing.

Said Mr. Tan: “Unfortunately, my father is very fit. In 1998, he rode his 20-year-old bike to Malacca, which is at least a two-hour drive. That was in the middle of the night.

“A kind Samaritan put him in a cab which dropped him off at Yong Peng bus station two nights later.”

Because of this incident, the family took away his motorcycle.

Mr. Tan said: “For two years, he has been walking around. People give him lifts.”

“He walks around Yong Peng town two to three times a day, leaving at 2.30pm and returning by 6 pm.”

“We wanted him to stop, so we locked the gates, but he used a ladder to climb out.”

“My poor mother had to open the gates for him because she was so scared he would fall off.”

His mother, Madam Swee Mei, 76, has been so worried that she cries all day.

Mr Roger Tan has five sisters and an elder brother.

He said they are not rich.

The money spent on the advertisements was from their own pockets. Some were contributed by friends.

He said: “We were in a serious dilemma. People think we are very rich. But we had financial help from some well-wishers.”

Since the notices started appearing in the papers on May 28, kind wishes have poured in.

Some well-wishers even set a web-site for the family at

So far, more than 4,000 people have logged into the site.

Now, they can only pray and wait.

“Said Mr Tan: “You only have one father. When you eat, you wonder what he is eating.” “This is worse than death. I don’t know whether he is alive or dead.”

Mr Roger Tan is convinced that his father is trying to find his way back to them.

But because he suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia, he cannot remember his way home.

* On May 27, the elderly Mr Tan was seen on a bus from Johor Air Hitam.

*On June 13 at 6 pm, he was spotted at the Yong Peng Express bus station.

A bus driver said Mr Tan hopped onto his bus and sat quietly.

He did not have a ticket. The bus journey to the Larkin Bus Terminal in Johor Bahru took an hour.

The family is worried because he hops from one bus to another with ease.

And without anyone stopping him, he may now be anywhere in Malaysia.

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