Boy rescued from drowning reconnects with saviour after 19 years

KUALA LUMPUR" "Uncle Umar” finally had the opportunity to connect with Desmond Kwek Bo Yang, the boy he saved from drowning 19 years ago.

It was an emotional and memorable day for both of them on Saturday (June 16), as the long-lost rescuer and the boy finally got to reconnect.

This was made possible following a news report by Bernama about 67-year-old Umar Kamarudin’s hope to meet the boy went viral on Saturday.

Umar, who retired from the Royal Malaysia Police as Superintendent in Bukit Aman, said he had made several attempts, including using social media, to locate the boy, but failed.

Speaking to Bernama, Desmond, now 26 years old and residing in Tokyo, Japan, said he had never thought that he would finally be able to reconnect with Umar, whom he referred to as Uncle Umar, after nearly two decades.

He said he was surprised when he received several phone calls from acquaintances informing him about the Bernama news report.

"I was doing my thing and my phone kept ringing... got calls from multiple people, asking me what is going on as my name is in the news. They even shared the Facebook link (Bernama news report on Facebook). I thought it was a scam at first.

"I then called my mom and told her about the news... as I kept reading the comment section (Facebook), many users tagged my name... I was so excited.

"One particular user wrote: ‘That is my father (Umar’s Son)’. We got in touch via Facebook and exchanged phone numbers,” he told Bernama.

Desmond said soon after that, he was able to contact Umar through WhatsApp and talk to the man who saved him from drowning.

Desmond said he was excited to be able to connect with Umar again and during their telephone conversation they promised to meet when he returned to Malaysia.

"I just got back from Malaysia last March and would be back (in Malaysia) again maybe next year. Uncle (Umar) said when I am back in Malaysia again, we will go lepak at the mamak,” said Desmond who currently works as a gaffer in the cinema field in Tokyo.

Desmond, the eldest of three siblings, is from Kuala Lumpur. His interest in the Japanese language led him to The Land of The Rising Sun where he pursued his education in Film and Drama Production in Osaka in 2022.

Recalling the fateful incident, Desmond said it happened on May 8, 2005, when he fell into a swimming pool at the KL Plaza Suites, now known as Fahrenheit Suites.

"I don't remember much, but I remember playing near the pool. My parents were about to leave and told me they wanted to go to the shower with my sister.

"I could not swim at the time. After falling into the pool, I tried to keep afloat, but I failed. After that, I lost consciousness,” he said.

After the incident, he said his family sent a thank-you card and a hamper as a token of appreciation to Umar.

When he was about 14 years old, Desmond said he wanted to get in touch with Umar but was unable to do so because all the information about the police officer, which was in his mother’s phone, was lost when the mobile phone was broken.

"All we knew then was that uncle was working in Bukit Aman,” he said, adding that he was traumatised due to the incident and afraid to be near a swimming pool for some time.

Meanwhile, Umar, when contacted, expressed his gratitude and joy to be able to connect with Desmond again.

"I was overwhelmed with happiness to be able to speak and hear the young man's voice. He has not forgotten me. I’m happy he is now a successful man and working in Japan,” he said. - Bernama

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