Over $70,000 raised for family of commercial diver who died on the job

·Senior Reporter
(The body of freelance commercial diver <span>Jake Seet Choon Heng, 33, was found on 7 May, 2018. </span>PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore)
(The body of freelance commercial diver Jake Seet Choon Heng, 33, was found on 7 May, 2018. PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore)

Over $70,000 has been collected through three fund-raising efforts for the family of the late freelance commercial diver Jake Seet Choon Heng, whose body was recovered on Monday (7 May).

Two days prior to the discovery, the 33-year-old had gone missing while conducting underwater operations for the vessel Jork at the Western Anchorage near Sentosa.

One such campaign started by a former commercial diver on GIVE.asia on Tuesday has raised over $59,000 for Seet’s widow, Joycelyn, who is due to deliver their third child next month, and his two young sons, aged six and three. As of Wednesday night, the campaign has gone viral with close to 2,500 shares on Facebook.

The man behind it, Pang Kee Whee, hopes to hit his target of $300,000 in three months.

The 40-year-old businessman, who does not know Seet personally, told Yahoo News Singapore that the incident reminded him of what happened to a fellow diver and friend who passed away a decade ago, “so I know for a fact the family will get little or no help”.

The money will go towards “getting her through her labour” and for other long-term expenditures such as the family’s upcoming Build-To-Order flat, he added.

He also hopes the campaign will raise awareness “about the representation of casual workers, especially freelance divers” and “underwater safety in Singapore”.

According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) website, the Work Injury Compensation Act covers any local or foreign employee who is under a contract of service or contract of apprenticeship, it does not cover independent contractors and the self-employed.

I continued diving despite the death of my buddy, but only in the offshore oil and gas industry where the standards of safety are better,” said Pang, who owns an underwater engineering consultancy.

“(In) Singapore, regulations are there, but nobody actually enforces them. It is more reactionary.”

The management behind 3O1 Bar & Kitchen – where Seet’s elder sister Jacqueline Seet Ai Chen works as a manager – has also rallied support for the family, raising over $5,000 from sales and donations.

In a note on Facebook posted on Tuesday, the restaurant wrote that “they have decided to donate 100 per cent of all the proceeds collected from tonight’s sales of the outlet to show our support for Jac(queline) and her family” and “will also be passing around a simple collection box for the same effort”.

Like Pang, the establishment’s co-owner David, who declined to give his surname, hoped that the money raised will “minimally (secure) the immediate future of the family” and ensure “a safe and smooth delivery” for Seet’s wife.

“Jacqueline has (been with) us as a manager for close to two-and-a-half years. During this time, she has accompanied and stayed with us through the good and bad times we faced. To us, we see her as part of our family,” the 37-year-old added.

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Along with a friend, 35-year-old Jasper Lei, a former commercial diver and ex-colleague of Seet’s, also began raising funds for the family. Since the start of their campaign on Monday night, the duo has collected over $6,000 from friends and strangers.

Lei, an associate marketing director at Propnex Realty, had earlier told Yahoo News Singapore that Seet came from a “humble family”.

“With two kids plus an unborn child, the future is really challenging for them,” he said. “Being a father of two young boys, I can really feel the pain for the family.”

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Jacqueline, 37, said she was grateful for the outpouring of support for her brother’s family. “Of course, if possible, she will want a place to call her home, which she has waited so long (for) with my late brother and the kids,” she added.

All donations will go straight to Joycelyn’s bank account, and they will be prioritised for the children’s school fees and costs arising from infant care, said Jacqueline.

“He is so well-loved by everyone… I see his primary schoolmates, his friends during his teens, his campmates, his soccer friends and his diving friends, all friends coming from different places to pay their last respects. This has really touched me,” she added.

An MOM spokesperson said on Wednesday that Seet, who worked for Mola Subsea Services, was underwater cleaning the hull of the vessel with another diver when he went missing.

All diving works by the company, which provides commercial diving services for vessels at major ports and anchorages within Singapore, have been stopped and MOM is currently investigating the incident, the spokesperson added.

Mola Subsea Services has yet to respond to queries sent by Yahoo News Singapore on Tuesday morning.

Separately, the police are also investigating the case of unnatural death.

Related stories:

Diver who died off Sentosa: ‘A brother’ who worked hard for his family, say ex-colleagues

Body of missing Singaporean diver Jake Seet found off Sentosa

Sister of diver missing near Sentosa pleads for ‘all parties’ to find her brother

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