'All I want is to reunite with my family for Chinese New Year'
Policewoman goes beyond call of duty visiting widower regularly since his wife died in 2013
Seven months into her job as a police officer, she responded to her second case of a death.
But it would be one that would shake her to the core.
She was affected not by the dead person but by the ones the deceased had left behind.
Almost two years later, she still visits the family to check on them.
On July 6, 2013, at about 11am, Corporal Michelle Kok, then 26, and her colleagues went to Block 530, Jurong West Street 52, after receiving a report that an elderly woman had died at home.
The flat belonged to Mr Ng Kuang Bong, 74, whose wife had died from natural causes.
Cpl Kok told The New Paper last week that when she entered the unit, she was struck by how run-down and poorly maintained the three-room flat was.
She said: "The walls and floors were dirty and the ceiling lights were blackened as if no one had cleaned them in years.
"When I tried to switch on the ceiling fan, I had to give it a gentle push before it could spin."
Cpl Kok said there was nothing to sit on in the living room other than makeshift seats fashioned from plastic boxes.
In the kitchen, she couldn't find any food at all.
"There were dirty dishes in the sink and blackened forks, spoons, and chopsticks," she said.
"And there was a foul, musty smell of stale air in the flat."
When Mr Ng gestured her towards his wife, Cpl Kok found the body on an old mattress on the floor, without a bedsheet or a bed frame.
She told Mr Ng he needed to get a family doctor to certify that Mrs Ng was dead before she could leave.
He told her he had no money for a doctor.
His daughter is in jail for drug offences and her husband has abandoned the family.
Since retiring from his job in the fishing industry, Mr Ng rents out a room in his flat, earning barely enough to support his family.
Cpl Kok's teammate then went to the nearby Jurong Spring Community Centre to get help.
As she was waiting for a doctor to arrive, Cpl Kok noticed Mr Ng's two grandchildren, then aged three and four, in the living room.
"They asked: 'Where is po po (grandmother)? Why doesn't she want to wake up?'" recalled Cpl Kok, adding that she noticed the children were not in school on a weekday.
Mr Ng told TNP he had no money to send them to school.
Cpl Kok said she noticed that the only toy the children had was a red rubber ball.
She was so moved that when she went home, she told her family about the case.
That night, she and her brother, then 22 and a former policeman, took two plastic bags worth of soft toys and toy cars and some food to Mr Ng's flat.
She said: "One of the reasons I wanted to help Mr Ng is because he reminds me of my own grandmother. He is happy-go-lucky and always looks on the bright side of life."
Cpl Kok works 12-hour shifts and has little time to herself. Despite her busy schedule, she makes it a point to visit Mr Ng twice a month.
She brings Mr Ng biscuits, drinks and fruits, spending about $15 each time she goes over.
Once, she bought a McDonald's Happy Meal for Mr Ng's grandchildren.
She said: "They were so happy. For us, it is nothing special, but this is something that they can't even afford."
When TNP and Cpl Kok visited Mr Ng at a nursing home in Bukit Panjang, he was recovering from an injury caused by a fall two months ago.
He said: "Even though she (Cpl Kok) is very busy with work, I am very thankful she comes to visit me often."
Before his grandchildren started schooling, they could not speak properly as there was no one to teach them.
Mr Ng said he is happiest when his grandchildren visit and call him "gong gong" (grandfather). Both of his grandchildren are being cared for by a family friend.
When asked about his family situation, Mr Ng began to cry.
He said: "I want to go home. No matter how bad things are, all I want is to reunite with my family for Chinese New Year."
Her compassion is inspiring
Commanding officer Superintendent of Police Raymond Lo commended Corporal Michelle Kok for her dedication in helping the family.
He said: "Cpl Kok has gone beyond the call of duty to help Mr Ng Kuang Bong and his family.
"I am proud of her actions."
Singapore Kindness Movement's general secretary William Wan agreed, adding that Cpl Kok's compassion was inspiring.
He said: "It is good for the public to see the police as a friend and neighbour, and not just a stern no-nonsense enforcer.
"I think she has given a deeper significance to her vocation as a member of the police force."
A Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) spokesman said Mr Ng is on the MSF ComCare Public Assistance Scheme and receives financial assistance on a monthly basis.
Member of Parliament for Jurong Group Representation Constituency Desmond Lee said Mr Ng has been receiving assistance in the form of financial help and food hampers.
He said that when Mr Ng's wife died, a senior grassroots leader helped with the doctor's certification on the cause of death.
Arrangements were made with Chye Seng Undertaker for her funeral and the Singapore Prison Service allowed Mr Ng's daughter to pay her last respects to her mother.
Mr said that after the funeral, some grassroots volunteers helped clean Mr Ng's flat and one of them donated a sofa set and mattresses.
Mr Ng's grandchildren were also enrolled into a PAP Community Foundation (PCF) centre at a nearby block.
They pay only $3 a month each in fees after subsidies.
Mr Ng fell in his flat on Dec 11 last year and hurt his left leg. He had to be hospitalised. The cost of his hospitalisation was covered by the Public Assistance Scheme.
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