On the morning of the Footloose deadline, 15 May 2010,
I texted Michael Gan, our editor and requested for an
extension in the deadline. He instantly called me back
and told me to take my time. I never knew it was fated
that I need to write a farewell message to my friend,
Ngae Koh Hieng who passed away suddenly on 15 May 2010.
Ngae after the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon
2007 at the hotel lobby
Ngae with Chai Weng Moon, Wan and Clara after the Standard
Chartered Singapore Marathon 2007 at the hotel lobby
That afternoon, after coming back from the route marshal
briefing on the New Balance Pacesetters 15km, I was
glued to the TV, watching the high definition broadcast
by Astro on the Uber Cup Finals between China and Korea.
Chong Ting Chow, our fellow Pacesetters member who missed
the route marshal briefing in the morning came to my
house to find out about his duty the next morning. We
watched the game together and got very excited when
Korea turned the table on the Chinese with a deserving
3-1 victory. While we were still excited over the game
at about 6pm, my hand phone rang and Dr Tan Tah Ming
was at the other end of the line. I heard his solemn
voice “ Wan….I got bad news for you…..” Dr Tan went
on to tell me that he was going to the mortuary to make
the identification. Over the next one hour, several
telephone calls exchanged with Bruce Wun, Jason Thiang,
Chai Weng Moon, Chua Keng Huat , Lim Meng Lock and Lok
Chan Chuen. I requested my friends to hold the news
first while waiting for Dr Tan to make the identification
and if true, make a successful communication with the
family before notifying Ngae’s friends. By 9pm, the
news was confirmed and the words went out to friends
and well wishers.
Taken at the Imbi Palace Restaurant during his last
lunch with us on his 56th Birthday. Standing L-R: Chua
Keng Huat, Wan, Dr Tan, Lim Meng Lock, Bruce Wun. Seated
L-R: Chai Weng Moon, Ngae, Jason Thiang
Taken at Old Town Cafe after our August 2009 lunch.
L-R: Dr Tan, Lim Meng Lock, Wan, Ngae, Bruce, Chai
That night, I stayed home with the FA Cup Finals between
Chelsea and Portsmouth on but I was not really watching.
I went to sleep early as I need to be up by 4.45am to
be on route marshal duty for the New Balance Pacesetters
15km at the 5km mark. As Chai, Dr Tan and Bruce have
signed up for the NB 15K, we decided to meet at 10am
at Dewi’s Corner after the run to talk over the matter.
Prior to the end of the NB 15K at 8.30am, I received
a text from Ngae’s hand phone, a message sent by his
wife Pin Pin notifying me of Ngae’s departure and that
she was making arrangement to claim his body from the
mortuary. During our breakfast, we decided that we could
only wait for the next text from Pin Pin on the funeral
arrangements. Later in the day at 2.10pm while I was
watching the Thomas Cup Finals between China and Indonesia,
I received another text from Pin Pin notifying me of
the funeral details. I forwarded the message to all
my contacts in my hand phone that I think know Ngae.
At South Sea Restaurant, November 2009
At Imbi Food Village, December 2009 during Dr Tan's
Our Time Together
I knew Ngae back in 2003 about the time he joined PACM
when I was still the president. As I used to do my morning
runs at Bukit Aman Car-park prior to going to work in
the city centre, I got to know some individuals who
run in the morning and many of them became members of
PACM. This small group of members was personally serviced
by me when it comes to membership renewal or event registration.
Besides Ngae, they are Dr Tan Tah Ming, Chai Weng Moon,
Patrick Ng, Chua Keng Huat, Bruce Wun, Lawrence Lee
and Lim Meng Lock. We used to chit-chat after our morning
run before hitting the shower. This went on for a few
years as we got to know one another better, we started
going for some runs outstation; Ipoh, Bidor, Kuantan
and Singapore. By the end of 2005, we decided that we
should have a regular lunch together after celebrating
Dr Tan Tah Ming’s birthday. Our first regular lunch
place is the Imbi Food Village where we have our favorite
roast goose. Later, we started to have our Saturday
lunch on a monthly basis with Chai as the organizer
with places recommended by Chua who has a very good
idea of where to eat. We share many running stories
during these lunches and most of the time our Saturday
lunches end at 4pm.
Ngae and Dr Tan with their families at KL Sentral prior
to their departure for the Sahara Marathon
Taken at an eatery behind the Peninsula Hotel on the
eve of the Standard Chartered Marathon 2007
We listened passionately about Ngae and Dr Tan’s plan
for the Sahara Desert that they did in 2007. Those of
you who missed that article could look it up in the
Footloose (June 2007 issue) or if you have junked the
hard copy, visit this
link. At times, we even adjourn for coffee at the
local café after lunch. The last of such lunches
we manage to get Ngae to come was during his 56th birthday,
we celebrated it together with him on 9th January 2010
at Imbi Palace (see picture). I recall walking with
him to Australia Cake House at Imbi Road to buy him
a birthday cake, he insisted that we don’t need a plastic
bag as it is more environmental friendly. After that,
our February, March and April lunch was without him
as he is unable to come. Up to 3 weeks ago, he called
me and sounded positive, talking about joining us for
the May 2010 lunch which he never made it……….
Inducted into the Power Team Elite
Ngae has been a regular contributor to the Footloose.
After his first brain operation in April 2009, he wrote
a revealing article about himself (June 2009 Footloose),
about his early life growing up in Sarawak. He also
discussed extensively about his experience in barefoot
running. Those of you who are interested could read
it from the Footloose. I see if I could get the soft
copy to be uploaded to my website.
Run In Memory of Ngae Koh Hieng on 23 May 2010
My group feel very lost as this happened so suddenly.
I don’t really know what to do or how to react. After
the funeral on 18 May 2010, we went for a late lunch
that afternoon at SS2. Those who were working never
have the mood to go back to office. We stayed put in
SS2, have several drinks till 8pm that night. Prior
to the funeral, I suggested to the group that we hold
a run in memory of Ngae the coming Sunday and it was
agreed. I requested Francis Cheng to help me print 150
souvenir bibs for the event. I created an event on the
Facebook and after two days, I have 102 registered guests.
I do not think I want to hold this article to write
about the run but would leave it to someone else who
may wish to write about it.
Compilation of Postings from Facebook and Blogs
I have read through the many postings on Facebook and
some blogs about him, the description is very similar;
an icon of our sports (running and triathlon), always
smiling, friendly and very helpful to newer practitioners
of the sports. Here are some of the selected postings;
"On Saturday 15th May 2010 Ngae Koh Hieng left
us for hopefully a better place. He will be so dearly
missed by just about everyone that ever met him. Always
(and I mean ALWAYS) smiling, always optimistic, always
positive and always supportive, sometimes cheeky and
more often than not loud. He was the type of guy that
was usually the centre of attention but only because
people were drawn to him and his magnetic personality.
You always felt better for an evening, a few words or
just a passing greeting on a run with Ngae.
I was shattered when I heard the news and still
am. I felt like one of my closest friends had been torn
away from me. Then I got to thinking that Ngae was such
a warm and welcoming person that probably most people
who were acquainted with him had similar feelings of
loss. He's not a person that people will simply feel
sad about losing and forget easily. His passing will
leave a huge gaping hole in the running and triathlon
community of Malaysia, he will be deeply missed by hundreds
and hundreds of people.
My Mum once said to me that people never really
die and leave us so long as someone still remembers
them - Ngae is going to live on in our hearts and minds
for a long long time.
I hear there will be an impromptu memorial run this
Sunday morning at Lake Gardens. Everyone will do their
usual run i.e. double hill, Sri Hartamas but there will
be a minutes silence at 6:29am and then everyone will
do their run in honour of Ngae. I will be doing the
Bintan Triathlon (assuming I'm well enough, if not I'll
be at Lake Gardens for sure).
I'll be doing the race in honour of Ngae. Disco
Dave will be there too - we will have our own minutes
silence. I will swim, bike and run with him in my mind
& heart but I will not mourn his loss but rather
celebrate his life, I will do my best to wear his trademark
smile from start to finish. He was an inspiration, an
icon, a role model - they don't come any better than
Ngae. We love you buddy, you will be missed but not
My all time favourite multi-sport photo - they say
a picture speaks a thousand words."
Posted by Simon Cross
"Though I do not know you, I have seen your smiling
face many times running the Lake Garden - Petronas route.
May you continue Running in Peace in the clouds above
us. Am sure you will find a way to run wherever you
are." – Angelyn Liew
"This morning, when I was manning the 1st water
station during the 15KM, I saw 2 ladies wearing sarong
to run, they told me is a memory for a running friend
who passed away yesterday. Then I receive a SMS from
Mr Wan the about tragic news of Mr Ngae. May God blessed
his soul. "– Phylis Loke
"WHAT ?! I am very shocked to hear about his
passing ... thanks Elaine for sending me this ... My
husband and I had the honor to have breakfast with him
at PJ State after his Gasing Hill run (barefoot + sarong)
and listen to him chatting about his brain surgery and
ICU, and hospital experience ... and he jumped back
to ...running (his passion) just weeks after that major
operation ... that memorable breakfast ... was 1 year
ago ... And now, he's ..... I am so sad ...
Mr. Ngae is the most optimistic, cheerful and daring
person that I met ... He gave us hope, laughter and
cheer ... I am 4 weeks into delivering to my 2nd baby
... and will be attending a full day course on that
Sunday... what the heck, I'll skip whatever I was suppose
to do and just for Mr. Ngae, I'll be running pushing
my toddler baby (19 months) and carrying the 34weeks
old 2nd baby in my stomach ... for HE, he's the symbol
of courage, and always "forward looking" guy
that lived life to the FULLEST" ! – Evanna
"Run like butterfly, be free".... quote
by late Uncle Ngae" – MC Foong
"My mum and I will be there for the run. I
can't remember when I first met him but he came to my
late dad's wake in his sarong and that made me smile.
He would encourage me to run barefoot when I complained
about my knee pain. The last time I spoke to him was
earlier this year and he was telling me how he didn't
fear de...ath. He said it was just a part of the journey
in life. My condolences to his family." – Yin
"I will be running Copenhagen Marathon on the
23 May, I will run in memory of him from Copenhagen."
– Henry Wong
"The first impression Ngae gave was a memorable
one.. he saw a half bonked runner(he was on his second
lap, I guess).. as he passed by, he tapped me on the
shoulders and said, "sikit lagi mau sampai"...
I looked up and saw a barefooted, bold headed guy overtake
me.. he was smiling and waving at other runners.. It
was all smiles and joy surrounding him.. I tried to
keep up with him, just to share the glow he brings..
I shall miss your presence on the tri/run scene.. rest
well, runner.." – Azly Anwar
"I was thinking about you a lot over the weekend.
Remembering a time way back when when you chatted with
this newbie runner, encouraged him to no end and eventually
became his good friend. Thank you for inspiring me to
be the runner I am today. And always armed with a wicked
sense of humour. I remember you telling me on...ce during
a particularly tough race that US BLADIES have got to
stick together no matter how tough the going got. You
paced with me although you were clearly the stronger
runner and could have ran on ahead. And that got me
to the finish line. I will miss you my dear friend.
May you now rest in peace. Free from all the pain."
– Lawrence Leong
"Our Brothers & Sisters of the Legal Fraternity
shall mourn the loss of a Legal Eagle. Our Racers &
Friends of Triathlon & Ironman shall live up to
your Spirit. Auld Lang Syne to you, my Learned friend."
– Raymond Tan
"I am glad & honored to have known u in
my life. Thank You so much for all ur inspiration, dedication,
cheerfulness towards sports. I shall always remember
u my dear friend." – Elaine Wong Kar Yan
"Thank you for inspiring us with your modesty
and determination. Thank you for simply for being a
friend to us. We will miss you much. May your soul find
rest, peace and comfort.... – John Wai Mun
huge smile, sarong with powerbar logo and barefoot -.
A personality larger than life - bet you're smiling
down at us right now..".- Nurina Van Oostrum
"Life is not about how long one lives but rather
how many souls you touched along the way.. Ur encouragement,
determination n humbleness will be remembered, run along
to heaven even if it's in sarong n bare foot. Ur body
has left but the fighting spirit is in every soul that
you touched .".- Adeline Lee
"Bro Ed Ngae,you are a humble n loving person-GOD
loves u so much bro." I am the resurrection n life.Those
who believe in me will live, even though they die;n
those who live n believe in me will never die."(
John 11:25 ).Amen!" – Moses Sinnappen
"U r such an inspiration to many, ur positive
attitude, ur fighting spirit, ur camradarie n most of
all, to me, ur humbleness. I will miss u, dear fren"
–Mahizzan Mohd Fadzil
"How can we forget your humbleness, joy and
laughter that you shared with us. I think it is only
befitting that we pay tribute to this great man when
we run in Sundown Marathon later this month. Every step
that I take in the Sundown Marathon is dedicated to
you. RIP, Ngae." – Loke Shu Sun
"RIP Ngae, you'll always be remembered and
thanks for saying hello, for sharing many humbling stories
on those short encounters when you decided to join us
in the back of the pack. You've been an inspiration."
– Haza Zean
“Running may not add years to your life but it definitely
add life to your years” – Jim Fixx.
Wan Yew Leong
15 May 2008