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Wednesday July 15, 2009

Top cop's son makes desperate call to mother before dying in apartment blaze

Son of senior police officer dies in fire
Mont Kiara Bayu apartment fire

KUALA LUMPUR: As one of the country’s top cops, Comm Datuk Koh Hong Sun has seen and investigated many crimes including many heart-wrenching ones. But what happened yesterday shook him to the core — his 22-year-old son was killed in a fire at their family home at Mont Kiara Bayu apartment building here.

As the fire raged in their 32nd floor apartment, Keat Lee, a chef in a Japanese restaurant, made a desperate call to his parents, crying for help.

By the time help arrived, it was too late. The entire unit was razed and Keat Lee’s remains were found on the balcony by firemen.

Family tragedy: An upset Comm Koh and his wife Datin Cindy P.Y. Koh (top inset) sitting in their car after the fire at their Mont Kiara Bayu apartment in Kuala Lumpur in which their son Keat Lee died. — Main picture courtesy of Venus Hew

Federal Commercial Crimes director Comm Koh, who arrived minutes later with his wife and second son aged 18, had to be held back before eventually being allowed to enter the rented apartment accompanied by several senior police officers, including Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar.

Scores of reporters, who had waited downstairs, were shocked. Several people were moved to tears including Ismail who had the unenviable task of breaking the news that Koh’s eldest son hadbeen burnt to death.

News of the death spread quickly and within minutes almost every top cop in the city swarmed the former Penang CPO’s residence offering assistance and condolences to their comrade who was visibly shaken and in tears.

An ambulance from University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) escorted by police outriders took Keat Lee’s body to the morgue where a post-mortem was conducted.

A woman, who lives in an opposite block, said she saw a man shouting frantically for help from the balcony of the 32nd-floor condominium unit.

“I heard him screaming for help as he was trapped in the fire. I immediately alerted the security guards,’’ said the woman, who did not want to be named.

Grieving parents: Cindy Koh crying uncontrollably as she is comforted by her 18-year-old son at the University Malaya Medical Centre yesterday. Inset shows Comm Koh leaving the UMMC mortuary.

A Thai national, Thanikaa, who works as a maid for a family living on the 29th floor, said she heard an explosion from a unit above her while she was washing clothes.

She said that when she looked out of the window, she saw smoke billowing from one of the units and quickly ran down using the staircase, as the lifts were not working.

Fire and rescue department head of operation Zakaria Mohamad said they received a call at 9.32am and managed to bring the flames under control within 14 minutes before totally dousing the fire by 11.30am.

“We had to use the sprinkler system to put out the fire,” he said. Initial investigations show that the fire could have been caused by a deep frying pan.

Meanwhile, at the morgue, hundreds of people including VIPs, politicians and police officers came in droves when they heard about the tragedy that had befallen Comm Koh’s family.

Members of the Police Family Association (Perkep) led by the wife of Inspector-General of Police, Puan Sri Juriah Ahmad, were seen consoling Koh’s wife Datin Cindy P.Y. Koh, who was in a state of shock.

A spokesman for the family urged the media not to speculate on the incident and to allow the family to grieve the loss of their son.

He said the remains of Keat Lee would be cremated in Malacca tomorrow.

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