PENANG: With tears in their eyes, eight athletes of SMJK Heng Ee proudly dedicated two victories they had achieved barely two hours earlier to their coach and teacher, Pong Teng Toon, at his funeral yesterday.
They were among some 100 students and teachers who came in two buses to pay their last respects to Pong at his house in Lebuhraya Nibong, Bayan Baru.
With heads bowed and hands clasped, the eight athletes stood solemnly in front of the coffin with their gold and silver trophies which they had just won in an inter-school relay competition at SMK Union.
Leow Yew Chin, 17, said they were dedicating the victory to Pong for his perseverance and guidance to them.
“Winning the competition is the best gift for our beloved coach,” he said, adding that Pong was a very disciplined and strict coach.
“He was a good-natured person, although sometimes he would scold us for being lazy,” Leow said.
Chuah Yejun, 16, cried when she recalled some fond memories of her favourite coach.
“Training sessions would never be the same again but we would continue to do our best for his sake,” she said.
The body of Pong, a 49-year-old bachelor who taught English at SMJK Heng Ee, was found dumped in an oil palm estate in Sungai Tawar, Baling, on Monday.
A piece of cloth was found tied around his neck while his left hand and left leg were tied with plastic cords.
His car was found on Sunday in an oil palm plantation in Kamunting.
He was last seen at his mother’s house in Bayan Baru on Saturday.
Among those present at the funeral were Pantai Jerejak assemblyman Wong Mun Hoe, Batu Uban assemblyman Goh Kheng Sneah and officers and staff of the state Education Department.
Pong’s 74-year-old father, Boo Day, who could not contain his emotions while thanking those present for their condolences, said:
“The school and students might have lost a good teacher but I’ve lost a son.”
Pong’s mother, Tan Chooi Choo, 68, said she accepted her son’s death as fate because of his previous bad karma.
A devout Buddhist, she said she consulted a Buddhist monk about her son’s fortunes recently and was told he had to repay some bad deeds which he had committed in his previous lifetime.
“I was advised to perform good deeds such as chantings and dana (offerings to monks) on his behalf to reap some good karma but they were still not good enough,” she said.
The cortege left the house at noon for cremation at the Batu Gantong Crematorium.
In Baling, V. Chandrasekaran reports that police are looking at all angles, including personal problems, into the murder.
District Deputy OCPD Deputy Supt Khamis Hamzah said police had yet to establish the motive for the murder but had not ruled out personal problems as one of the causes.
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