The Legacy of a Man of Honor and Courage

20 April 2004 – a Tuesday like any other day for most, if not all, Singaporeans. But that Tuesday did not end like any other day.

Construction was going on at the Kallang stretch of the Circle Line but at about 3.30pm, several supporting structures holding up a stretch of the underground tunnel began to collapse. The surface above started to cave in, bringing tons of soil and whatever that was on it, into the hole.

Thankfully, most of the workers were having their tea break and out of the tunnel at that time. However, there was a team of 8 foreign workers who were working deep in the hole. If not for their foreman, they would all have perished.

According to eyewitnesses’ accounts, Mr Heng Yeow Peow, affectionately known as “Ah Heng” to his colleagues, risked his life as he rushed to where his team of workers were and hurried them out to safety. By his heroic and selfless action, those 8 men were spared death that day.

Heng did not make it out of that tunnel. He was trapped as the tunnel collapsed. He never saw another dawn, or the faces of his beloved wife, Sally and his two children. Neither was his body recovered despite 4 days of rescue efforts.

According to a Channel News Asia documentary, “The Spirit of Singapore”, which was first aired last year, those 8 colleagues who lived to tell their stories described “Ah Heng” as a selfless man of courage, who put their lives before his own. Finally after 7 years and with tears in their eyes, they laid a memorial stone over a grass patch where they thought Heng was buried.

Heng’s wife and children remember him as a brave man who sacrificed himself for others. They testify that he was a dutiful man, a loving husband and a doting father who had always taken care of the family, loved them and protected them. He died the way as he had lived. He left a legacy of honor and courage for his loved ones.

This hero of the Heng family inspires me!

I too want to leave a legacy of honor and courage for my children. While many things in life are uncertain, death is not. My short journey on earth gives me little time to waste – what will matter to my wife, my children, and my friends are not the many material things that I can give to them, but the amount of time I spend to sow love into their lives.

The thought is easy but the journey is full of challenges. The demands of life are plenty and they compete for the time that I have. These demands all seem to be legitimate and necessary.  That is why I need the courage to make a choice. I choose to do my best to be

  • An honorable husband, always leading, loving, giving due respect to my wife and honoring our marriage bed and the vow that I made to her on our wedding day.
  • A courageous husband, always protecting my wife from all harm, to correct her when she is wrong, and to accept corrections when I am wrong.
  • An honorable father, always being there for each of my children as they go through pains in life, to love them even when no other would and to take all the responsibilities of fatherhood.
  • A courageous father, standing up to immoral and unrighteous values that tempt my children and showing them the right way by personal example.

This is the legacy I will leave for my loved ones.

This week’s guest writer is Steven Chan. Joyfully married to his wife Michelle for more than 30 years, he is blessed with two daughters and a son and gifted with a son-in-law.

Authored a book, Eight Keys to Family Power and writes weekly on two blogs: Great Lovers Make a Great Marriage and Blessed to Bless Others


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