Mr Ben Goi had been looking forward to celebrating his son’s first birthday on Feb 9, according to his sister. But, it was not meant to be.
On Thursday morning (Feb 7), more than 100 family members and friends paid their last respects to businessman Mr Ben Goi, son of billionaire Popiah King Sam Goi.
Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was among those seen speaking with Mr Sam Goi at the funeral service held at the family’s Bukit Timah home.
Mr Ben Goi was 43 when he died from a stroke with a brain haemorrhage in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning (Feb 3).
Ms Goi Lan Ling, told Shin Min Daily News on Tuesday (Feb 5) that her brother had gone to Kuala Lumpur about a week earlier, with his wife, son and maid, to visit his wife’s family for Chinese New Year.
They had been due to return on Sunday afternoon, and Mr Goi had even video-called his family in Singapore on Saturday night, sharing pictures of Chinese New Year decorations with them.
However, he suffered from an intense headache later that night, and asked his wife to call an ambulance.
They waited for a public ambulance but when they could not get one, they called for a private ambulance.
After being taken to the hospital where doctors worked to save him, he died at 4am on Sunday, said Ms Goi.
According to Shin Min, Mr Ben Goi’s father said that he hoped that when he woke up, he would find it had all been a bad dream.
“I have lost my beloved son, this is a pain in my heart that will never be able to heal,” Mr Sam Goi said.
Mr Ben Goi’s casket left for Mandai Crematorium at around 9.30am. Mourners could be seen sobbing as they placed their hands on his hearse and accompanied it out of the home.
At the funeral service in Mandai, Mr Sam Goi said in his eulogy: “I wish that my youngest son can have a happy life in heaven as he did in life.
“I must thank everyone for coming to my place and sending him off. I’m glad that so many people will think of him. He must feel very happy on his way to heaven.”
He also thanked politicians for coming to pay their respects over the Chinese New Year period.
Mr Sam Goi’s second child Laureen Goi choked up while delivering her eulogy. She said: “Meiling, (referring to Mr Goi’s wife Tracy Lee) you are part of the family, we will take care of you. We will take care of you even when Ben is not around.
“Papa and Mama, he will want us to be happy, let this go, and have strength going forward.”
Mr Ben Goi’s wife, Malaysia-born former TV actress Tracy Lee, sobbed uncontrollably after placing flowers on his coffin. She later turned away from the crowd to compose herself.
During the cremation service, she could be heard crying out: “Goodbye hubby, goodbye. I will take care of your parents. Let’s meet in heaven.”
She later posted a picture of her holding her husband’s photograph on Instagram, with a Chinese caption that said: “Thanks for loving me and our baby… When we meet again, give me a hug.”
Ms Lee also thanked friends and relatives for comforting, encouraging, supporting and praying for the family.
One of the mourners, Mr Christopher Sin, who was friends with the late Mr Goi for some 25 years, said: “We are from different backgrounds but to him, he doesn’t care where you’re from. If you’re a friend, he treats you like family. He has no airs.”
The 47-year-old, a manager in the semiconductor industry, said that on the night Mr Ben Goi died, they were supposed to attend a reunion dinner with a group of close friends who called themselves “brothers”.
On Monday, ministers Heng Swee Keat, Masagos Zulkifli and Josephine Teo, as well as former foreign minister George Yeo, were seen at Mr Ben Goi’s wake. Singapore actors, including Terence Cao, Chew Chor Meng and Zhu Houren, were also spotted there.
Mr Ben Goi was the chief operating officer of Tee Yih Jia, a food manufacturing business which his father expanded from a manufacturer of popiah – or spring roll – skin into a global Asian food company.
Mr Sam Goi, a father of four who is in his early 70s, was No. 14 on Forbes Singapore’s 50 Richest 2018 list with an estimated fortune of US$1.8 billion (S$2.4 billion).
Mr Goi, who is also executive chairman of listed property developer GSH Corp, was on several government committees.
He was also active in grassroots work, and recently stepped down as chairman of the Ulu Pandan Citizens’ Consultative Committee.
In 2017, Mr Ben Goi married Ms Lee. Their wedding was widely covered by the media.
Ms Lee, 33, announced last May that she had given birth to their first child, a son.
In a 2017 interview with local magazine 8 Days, she said she met her husband through mutual friends in 2010, but the couple started dating only in 2016.
As things had happened so unexpectedly, Ms Lee had been quite emotional, so the whole family had been helping to take care of the baby, she added.
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.
(Photos and videos: The Straits Times and Instagram)