Malaysian family caught up in the Bangkok bomb attack

Goh Phaik Lan, 76, center, is accompanied by her son, Neoh Hock Lye, 44, as they prepare for the funeral of Neoh Hock Guan’s wife, Lim Saw Gaik, 49, and son, Neoh Jai Jun, 20, in Penang, Malaysia on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. Both were killed in a bombing that killed a number of people at the Erawan shrine in downtown Bangkok, on Monday. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul) (The Associated Press)

This week’s deadly bombing in Bangkok left a Malaysian family struggling to come to grips with an attack that claimed at least four members who had been enjoying a Thai vacation. Among the hardest-hit has been Tan Kim Kee, 71, who was devastated when told her family had been caught in the middle of Monday’s blast at a shrine popular with tourists as well as Thais. “She cannot accept the truth,” close family friend Visen Lim Gin Seong said Wednesday. “She has been crying nonstop since yesterday and asking why heaven is so cruel to the family when they have been so good to people.”

Seven members of the family had traveled by train Saturday from Butterworth on northern Malaysia’s Penang island to the Thai beach resort city of Hua Hin, and arrived in Bangkok on Monday, Lim said. Neoh Ee Ling, 33, who is five months pregnant, was not injured in the bombing, and her father, Neoh Hock Guan, 53, reportedly suffered minor injuries. But four other family members, including Ee Ling’s 4-year-old daughter, are confirmed dead, and a fifth is presumed to have died. “All the family members are distraught,” Lim, a businessman, said in a phone interview from Penang. “It is also heartbreaking for friends and neighbors. They are good, friendly and generous people. Nobody expects this to happen. Seven of them went on holiday, but only two came back.”
The family had waited for Hock Guan’s youngest son, Neoh Jai Jun, 20, who studies in Taiwan, to return to Malaysia before heading to Thailand for a vacation, while his sister-in-law, Lim So See, 52, who lived in Singapore, joined the trip as well, Lim said. Jai Jun was killed in the blast, and So See is presumed dead. The other members of the family who died were Hock Guan’s 49-year-old wife, Lim Saw Gaik; son-in-law Lee Tze Siang, 35; and granddaughter Lee Jin Xuan, 4.