Woman’s world collapses after coronavirus claims husband’s life


LABUAN – Bong Siew Lan’s (picture) world collapsed on Nov 3 last year. It was on that fateful day that the coronavirus claimed her husband’s life.

Foo Kok Meng died at the Labuan Hospital, two months short of his 66th birthday. The coffee shop owner was on a ventilator, having been warded in October after testing positive for COVID-19.

Siew Lan, 66, herself served out a quarantine period once her husband was admitted to the hospital. She tested negative for the coronavirus.

“I did not think either one of us would be alone so early in our lives,” she lamented to Bernama on Friday when Labuan Natural Disaster Management Committee chairman Rithuan Ismail visited her at home to hand over a cheque for RM5,000 from the COVID-19 Funeral Special Assistance Fund.

Kok Meng was one of the 1,210 people in Malaysia who had succumbed to COVID-19 as of March 14.

He developed a cough after returning from voting in the Sabah state election on Sept 26 last year. As the cough worsened, Siew Lan’s sister Ah Kam, 59, forced the reluctant Kok Meng into her car and took him to a private clinic and later to the hospital.

The hospital informed Siew Lan on Oct 26 that Kok Meng had COVID-19. Her husband had difficulty breathing, and this continued to worsen. He was then hooked up to a ventilator.

Siew Lan could neither hold his hand nor talk to him because of the standard operating procedures in place due to the infection. Their four children are working in Singapore.      

Now, she is all alone at home with no one to talk to. Sometimes she stares at the empty bed, the bare dining table. The house is “empty”. Everywhere she looks, she is reminded of the good times, which makes her sad and in tears.

“It is worse at night. I haven’t had to sleep alone for over 50 years,” she lamented.

The aid from the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) has brought some relief but not happiness.

Siew Lan was the second recipient of the COVID-19 fund aid, and according to Rithuan, the remaining Malaysian beneficiaries would receive it in stages.