Hundreds turn up to bid Tampines brothers a last goodbye

Well-wishers left presents, soft-toys, letters and photos for Nigel and Donovan Yap

Hundreds of friends, family, and well wishers turned up to send the Yap brothers off on their last journey on Thursday afternoon.

The void deck at Tampines St 44, Blk 463 where their wake was held was packed with mourners who left flowers, notes and presents near their caskets, many shedding a tear as they said a quiet prayer for Nigel, 13, and Donovan, 7.

A slideshow with photos of the brothers and their parents in happier times like holidays, birthday parties and church gatherings played on loop as a non-stop stream of visitors offered their condolences.

The tables in front of the brothers’ caskets were filled with presents like balloons, teddy bears, handwritten notes and packets of Ribena. Brightly coloured posters with well-wishes from classmates were also hung on the drapes surrounding their coffins.

A group of three Secondary One boys from Loyang Secondary came on their own to see Nigel after school, still in their uniforms. They told this reporter that he had been their classmate when they were in primary school.

Crying softly as they walked away from the wake, the trio put their arms around each other for support.

“He was my friend, my senior in primary school. One year above me. We were friends, we used to sit next to each other,” said one of the boys. He was too emotional to continue speaking.

A twenty-minute prayer service was conducted by pastors from Sembawang Assembly of God, where the family were active members.

“No tears, no pain and no sorrow. Nigel and Donovan are now in the most beautiful place that could ever be,” said one of the pastors in her closing prayer.

Throughout the service, the boys’ mother, Mdm Suliani Ang, known to friends as “Winnie”, held on tightly to the hand of her husband, Warrant Officer Francis Yap, and kept her eyes closed.

It was only till the caskets of her two sons were carried to waiting vans that she broke down, collapsing repeatedly and sobbing. The boys’ grandmother was equally inconsolable and was heard crying out her grandsons’ names as their caskets were taken away.

Later at the Mandai Crematorium, over 300 SAF personnel attended the pre-cremation ceremony, overflowing out of the hall. 

At the accident site just outside Dunman Secondary School, residents were seen burning offerings for the two boys and families with small children came to lay down bouquets, storybooks and soft toys.

Family members had earlier requested for the media to give the family privacy and not take photos of the Yaps at the wake.

“Their parents have both spoken to the media and given eulogies in the past two days,” said a family friend.

“We ask that you give them a chance to say goodbye in private to their two lovable, adorable sons who (sic) they will miss very much. Although the funeral is today, their sadness will continue for a long time more.”

Additional reporting by Jeanette Tan

Related links:
Nigel and Donovan - 'Two boys full of love, life and laughter'
Brothers die in tragic truck accident in Tampines