In the December of 1973, an overloaded ship Pulau Kijang from Kuching to Sibu sank at the mouth of Rejang River. It was at the height of the torrential monsoon. A few hundred people drowned, there were few survivals. Most of the people were from Sarikei. Father was in the committee for the Pulau Kijang Ship disaster, Mother was a “volunteer” as the wife of a senior officer. They set up a temporary morgue. It was next to where Father was staying. Mother said, she could smell the terrible stench every time they passed by the building to town.
The bodies were bloated, there were many missing parts. He had to comfort grieving relatives. He accompanied the Chief Minister, Datuk Tan Sri Yakkub. The CM cried, Father and Mother were sure those were real tears. Mother said she could not eat for days after seeing the drowned, body parts and their grieving relatives.
Mother told us that people believed that when a blood relative went to identify a body part, the part would bleed, but a non blood relative will not, even if they were a spousal relation. We do not know how true it was. It was gut wrenching to see relatives going from one part to another. They didn’t want their relatives to be homeless ghosts.