Singapore

Popiah King Sam Goi on death of his son Ben: ‘My heart will never be able to heal’

Businessman Ben Goi was looking forward to celebrating his son's first birthday this Saturday.

But Mr Goi, the youngest child of Popiah King Sam Goi, died from a brain haemorrhage after suffering a stroke in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Sunday. He was 43.

Ms Goi Lan Ling, the younger of his two sisters, confirmed the cause of death in an interview with Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News at his wake here on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier reports said that Mr Goi, who also had a brother, had died of a heart attack.

Ms Goi said her brother and his wife, former television actress Tracy Lee, 33, had gone to Kuala Lumpur about a week ago with their son and maid to visit Ms Lee's family for Chinese New Year.

They were planning to return to Singapore on Sunday afternoon, ahead of the Goi family reunion dinner on Monday and Chinese New Year celebrations, she said.

Ms Goi added that her brother was excited about celebrating his son's first birthday, though she was not sure what he had planned.

She said Ms Lee was in emotional distress after the sudden tragedy, so the family was helping to care for the baby.

Mr Goi married the Malaysian-born Lee, a former Mediacorp Star Search contestant, in 2017.

Ms Goi told Shin Min that Mr Goi spoke to her and other family members in Singapore in a video call last Saturday evening and showed them pictures of Chinese New Year decorations in Kuala Lumpur.

"He looked normal and happy when we spoke," she added.

Later that night, Mr Goi had a piercing headache in the hotel and asked Ms Lee to call for an ambulance. After waiting some time for a public ambulance, they got a private ambulance to take him to hospital.

Mr Goi died at 4am on Sunday despite doctors' efforts to save him, his sister told Shin Min, which did not name the hospital or hotel in its report.

Ms Lee called Mr Goi's family to tell them about his condition about an hour before he died, she added.

His parents took the earliest flight to Kuala Lumpur but were unable to see him alive for the last time.

Ms Goi said that while her brother had high blood pressure and hereditary asthma, he had no issues with daily activities.

Mr Goi was chief operating officer of Tee Yih Jia, a food manufacturing company that his father had expanded from a maker of popiah skin into a global Asian food business.

Mr Sam Goi, who was No. 14 on last year's Forbes Singapore's 50 Richest list with an estimated worth of $2.4 billion, described his son as filial, obedient, humble, friendly and generous.

He said that he did not post an obituary or inform anyone of his son's death because he did not want to bother his family and friends during the festive period.

"But I still wanted to hold a wake for him. I didn't expect so many people to turn up to pay their respects," he added.

Among those who attended the wake at Mr Goi's home in Bukit Timah were ministers Heng Swee Keat, Vivian Balakrishnan, Masagos Zulkifli and Josephine Teo, and former foreign minister George Yeo, as well as several celebrities.

The older Mr Goi also told Shin Min he hoped to wake up to find that the tragedy was just a bad dream.

"I have lost my beloved son. My heart is aching and it will never be able to heal," he said as he teared up.

"No one could have foreseen this happening. No one is to blame. This is just his fate."

The late Mr Goi will be cremated at Mandai Crematorium today.



You can post your condolences to the family of Ben Goi here

Death