His promise to dying father: To do well in his exams
Nanyang Junior College student turned down offer to sit exam in separate room for fear of distracting friends after news of his father's death
His father died of cancer in hospital in the middle of the A-level examination period, just a day before one of his papers.
But he did not take time off to grieve because he had promised his dying dad that he would do well in the exams.
Yesterday, Nanyang Junior College student Koh Jing De, 19, fulfilled the promise. He scored five As.
The youngest of three siblings lost his father to a lung cancer relapse on Nov 22. It was close to two weeks into the exams and he had four papers left.
"I didn't want to mourn. He had been battling cancer for close to six years, so I took the loss with an open heart," said Mr Koh.
He was also adamant that his teacher keep the news from the friends who had helped him stay on track during the period that his father was sick.
On the morning of his literature paper, his teacher suggested he sit in a separate room, but he refused the special treatment.
"My friends and I studied day and night for the exams, so I didn't want the news to distract them," he said.
"Even if they didn't lose focus, they would sympathise with me and that was the last thing I wanted."
Mr Koh's biggest regret was not spending enough time with his father even though he visited him every day whenever he was in hospital.
His father, who was a driver before he was struck with cancer, was hospitalised for two weeks before the start of Mr Koh's exams.
During this period, Mr Koh would accompany his father every day and he studied at a nearby cafe in between visiting hours.
After his father was discharged, Mr Koh would go out and spend at least four hours doing his homework and revising with his friends on weekdays and another 10 hours on weekends.
"Sometimes, I got so tired from studying that as soon as I reached home, I would just go straight to sleep," he said.
"My dad wasn't an affectionate person, but he used to come into my room occasionally and praise me for getting good grades.
"That motivated me to study even harder."
The day after his father's death, he wrote a letter to express his anguish and then burned it to symbolically let go of the grief.
"I wrote it because that was the closure I needed. But I also didn't want my grief to weigh me down, so I burned it when I paid my respects at the wake," said Mr Koh.
His 29-year-old brother, Jimmy,said that their father was an encouraging man and had always wanted his sons to try their hardest.
"I knew that Jing De was deeply affected by the loss, but he was also very focused on doing well for his exams," said the entrepreneur.
"I'm sure my father would be proud of his achievements."
Expressing his satisfaction with his results, Mr Koh is looking forward to applying for a place in the National University of Singapore.
"My secondary school teacher once told me something I will always remember," he said.
"'Just because it's stormy now, it doesn't mean you aren't headed for sunshine.'
"That quote has got me this far."