SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) – It was the first time retired electrician Goh Hai Peng had been on a cruise – and he travelled alone.
Mr Goh, 74, is now missing.
He boarded the cruise ship Genting Dream, which can accommodate 4,500 passengers, on Aug 4 before it left Singapore.
The four-day, three-night cruise included stops at the islands of Penang and Langkawi in Malaysia on Aug 5 and 6, respectively.
It was only on Aug 7, when the passengers were disembarking in Singapore, that the crew discovered that Mr Goh was no longer on board.
Dream Cruises, the operator of Genting Dream, has confirmed Mr Goh is missing.
All his belongings were found intact in the cabin, which opens into a balcony.
In an e-mail to The New Paper on Sunday (Aug 18), his son, Mr Adrian Goh, who is in his 30s, said employees of Dream Cruises had returned the belongings.
The younger Mr Goh told Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao that the ship’s surveillance footage showed his father entering his cabin at about 7pm on Aug 4, the first day of the trip.
That was the first and last time Mr Goh was seen in the video footage, which did not show him leaving his cabin during the entire cruise.
Mr Adrian Goh added that surveillance cameras had also captured a whitish figure falling into the sea at about 3am the following day.
But he told Wanbao he found it hard to believe his father, who was short, could have accidentally fallen off the balcony.
He added that his father was neither a gambler nor a drinker, and had not entered the ship’s casino. He also did not have health or financial problems.
“My father was supposed to go on the trip with my mother, but because she had to look after their grandchild, he went on his own,” he said.
“I believe he would not have done anything silly.”
In his e-mail to TNP, the younger Mr Goh said the family is deeply distressed by his father’s disappearance.
He said the family was not given access to such information as the extent of the search and rescue operation or the ship’s surveillance footage until about a week later.
“For all we know, our father could still be alive and adrift somewhere in the Malacca Strait, and it seems as if he had been left for dead.”
The authorities in Singapore and Malaysia have been notified about Mr Goh’s disappearance.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency has also been alerted.
TNP understands the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Police Coast Guard and the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur are rendering assistance to the family.
Replying to queries from TNP, a Dream Cruises spokesman said Mr Goh had not claimed his passport during disembarkation after the ship docked in Singapore on Aug 7.
He said crew members searched the ship and later reported Mr Goh as missing to the Singapore police. The officers later boarded the ship to conduct investigations.
They later reported the incident to the Malaysian authorities.
“Dream Cruises offers its heartfelt thoughts and sympathies to the family members of the missing person in this time of difficulty,” the spokesman said.
“Dream Cruises is working closely with the respective authorities and will inform the family members should there be any updates from the authorities on the reported incident.”
A police spokesman confirmed that a report was made at about 7.50pm on Aug 7 and they are looking into the matter.
The younger Mr Goh said that while he appreciates the efforts by the authorities, he hopes more can be done.
He said: “We urge the relevant parties and authorities to step up their efforts to find our father.”