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Tan Tam Mei & Tee Zhuo
The Straits Times
Jan 27, 2019
Corporal First Class (NS) Aloysius Pang, an actor who died after suffering injuries during reservist training last week, received an emotional final send-off on Sunday (Jan 27) - with the hundreds who turned up reflecting the way the 28-year-old's story had captured the hearts and minds of a nation.
Though a large crowd had gathered at Mandai Crematorium on Sunday afternoon, there was pin-drop silence as the white hearse carrying the body of Mr Pang turned into the driveway.
The quiet was broken only when the procession began and the military band marched and played a tune in front of the hearse.
Behind the vehicle, Mr Pang's elder brother Kenny, looking solemn and wiping tears from his face, followed closely on foot. The rest of the family, along with close friends - most of them grim-faced and teary-eyed - were waiting in the hall for the private funeral service. Nearly a hundred people were seen earlier entering the hall, shortly before the hearse arrived at 4.50pm.
About 300 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) servicemen from the Artillery Formation flanked the stretch leading to the service hall and saluted their late comrade.
CFC Pang was accorded a military funeral service on Sunday, which began earlier at around 3.30pm.
Although members of the public had been asked not to attend the funeral service at Mandai, some like teacher Ken Tan, 48, felt compelled to turn up.
"He died in training, he has been a good son for Singapore," said Mr Tan, who had waited outside the hall.
"I don't know him personally, but I feel the loss of a Singaporean who had worked hard for his future."
After the cremation, Mr Pang's parents left the premises. His mother then emerged, held up by family members, as she was sobbing so hard she could barely stand.
Trailing behind them was Mr Pang's girlfriend, actress Jayley Woo, along with a host of his show-business colleagues, including television host Quan Yi Fong, actor Shane Pow and actress-radio deejay Kimberly Wang. Many were seen trying to compose themselves even after the final farewell.
A three-day wake, which began last Friday, and a public memorial service on Sunday were held at 82A MacPherson Lane. A part of the wake on the second and third days was open to the public.
Shortly after the memorial service at MacPherson began, a young fan collapsed from the heat and was taken to the side to rest.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of fans and friends turned up for Mr Pang's wake.
Decked out in sombre colours of black, grey and white, people of all ages stood patiently in line from about 10am under the hot sun to pay their respects.
Driver Vincent Kan was there with his girlfriend Poh Ing Ing, 24, a nurse.
"I was an extra in a drama that Aloysius starred in some years back, and that was the first time I saw him face to face," said Mr Kan, 25.
"I remember his acting skills and how he persevered despite the heat and the need for multiple retakes," he added.
Mr Pang died on Wednesday night from injuries suffered on Jan 19 during a military exercise in New Zealand.
He was carrying out repair works inside a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer and suffered serious injuries to his chest and abdomen when the gun barrel was lowered, the Ministry of Defence said.
At around 11.30am on Sunday, Mr Pang’s parents arrived at the wake with family members in tow. They were distraught as they approached the coffin.
His mother was inconsolable and had to be accompanied by her eldest son Jefferson. Ms Woo was seen arriving at about the same time.
Scores of people also paid their respects on Saturday, including Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and MP Tin Pei Ling. The public memorial ended at noon on Sunday.
It was followed by a memorial service at 1.30pm at the same location.
Mr Jefferson Pang shared that his mother was the first to see Mr Pang when he was still conscious. She was crying a lot when she saw her youngest son in that state, he said.
"Aloysius’ kryptonite is actually my mother’s tears... When mum was crying by his bed, the first reply that he actually gave was: 'Mum don’t cry, if you cry I will cry too. And I’m in a lot of pain. I’ll recover in a couple of days, and I’ll take you to the New Zealand casino',” he shared.
Actor Xu Bin, who is a good friend of Mr Pang, said in Mandarin: "You were always there for me, no questions asked."
He also shared how Mr Pang would take time to donate blood and even thought of donating his bone marrow.
Said actress Kym Ng: "Why do I love Aloysius? He is very sensible, always very thoughtful, dedicated to his friends and his work. I will miss you Aloysius, your smile, your big eyes, and the gentleness in your voice when you talk. Farewell."
Veteran actress Hong Huifang spoke about how Mr Pang was very considerate and kind to his colleagues: "Aloysius, you are the son every parent wants."
Actress Felicia Chin revealed how Mr Pang set aside 10 per cent of his pay to thank and bless the production crew. She said he was also a humble person who would not boast about his achievements. "He always loved, gave and spoke from his heart."
Ms Joyce Lee, who produced and directed the 2016 film Young & Fabulous featuring Mr Pang in the lead role, said the late actor told her he wanted to get married by 31.
“He said, ‘I want to get married then - but I haven’t made enough money yet. I hope to be able to make enough money, because if I marry her, I want to be able to take care of her for life’,” she shared in Mandarin.
Others who delivered eulogies included industry veteran Chen Shucheng, fellow actors Shane Pow and Desmond Tan, and producer Leong Lye Lin.
Many fans on Sunday spoke about a connection to the actor, having watched him "grow up on television", as Madam Leanette Teo, who is in her 60s, put it.
Madam Teo, who works in the logistics sector, added: "I know him through the shows he's acted in, and thought I should come and pay my respects, although he is a young chap."
By about 11am on Sunday, about a quarter of the seats at the shelter set up at MacPherson Lane for the wake was filled with friends and family.
Siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng – from home-grown English pop band The Sam Willows – were also there to pay their respects. They had both worked with the actor, and had fond memories of him.
Ms Kheng, 25, said: "It still feels unbelievable and kind of strange that he is not around.
"You see his photos everywhere these few days, but it’s not for a new movie or show. It’s because he has passed away. He was a passionate actor. An angel. If anything, he wasn’t one that deserved (to die in such a way)."
Polytechnic student Gloria Lim, 21, arrived shortly before noon with a classmate, but was unable to enter the wake to pay her last respects.
"It's a pity that we didn't get to see him for the last time, and it is a bit upsetting. But at least we came, and we will stay awhile for the memorial."
She too had appeared as an extra on set sometime in 2013, during the filming of one of Mr Pang's drama series.
"I hope he reincarnates and can do what he set out to do in his next life. It's sad that his life was cut short," she said.
Additional reporting by Choo Yun Ting