On 13 February 2021, Singapore was rocked by a horrific accident at Tanjong Pagar. And these are my thoughts on the impact of the tragic accident.
13 February 2021. The second day of Chinese New Year and one day before Valentine’s day. Most of us are on holiday, visiting family and having a great time. No one expected a tragedy to take place on this day, but sadly it did.
Five young lives were lost when a white BMW crashed into the front of a shophouse along Tanjong Pagar Road and exploded into flames.
This horrific accident has rocked the nation and many people are discussing and speculating the events that led up to the crash.
It’s since been established that the driver of the car, a BMW M4 Coupe, was Jonathan Long, who reportedly worked for Aviva Financial Advisers as a senior financial services manager and had graduated from RMIT University at the SIM Global Education campus with an economics and finance degree.
The four men in the car were his friends, with one of them being Eugene Yap, the co-founder of homegrown bubble tea chain Bober Tea.
The woman in critical condition was Jonathan’s fiancee. She suffered 80% burns to her body as she tried to rescue those in the car. She is a former air stewardess and occasional gentai singer.
According to the police, preliminary investigations showed that the car had sped along Tanjong Pagar Road before colliding into a shop house and catching fire.
As a result of this tragic accident, the Traffic Police are studying it and are considering further enforcement operations in the area, as well as road-calming measures.
Some of the measures that the authority is exploring to slow traffic down include adding road humps and speed regulating strips.
The Traffic Police also pointed out that enforcement operations are increased around the festive season.
MPs for the area said that they would welcome extra measures to curb the speeding issue, with residents highlighting that the roaring sounds of speeding cars has disrupted their sleep for years.
Following the horrific crash, what is left behind is a lot of heartache. Five families lost a member dear to them and there will always be an absence within their family unit.
At the accident site, family and friends of the deceased arrived to pay their respects.
It’s the living who is suffering the pain of the loss, and what’s worse is for the parents to send off their children.
It’s the father’s hope for his only son Jonathan Long to marry and settle down, but as fate would have it, his hope for the young couple vanished in a flash, with his son gone, and his daughter-in-law-to-be fighting for her life.
Another father of the deceased nearly collapsed from shock and grief when he learnt his son had died in the crash. His heart completely sank when he knew his son was gone. He had never thought something like this could happen. He was completely broken down. He had lost something that is more important than his own life and it was hard to accept.
Mr Jonathan Long and three of his passengers – Mr Eugene Yap, Mr Elvin Tan Yong Hao, and Mr Teo Qi Xiang – worked for Aviva Financial Advisers.
The fourth passenger, Mr Gary Wong Hong Chieh, 29, was a former Aviva representative.
Before joining SIA, Jonathan Long’s fiancée Ms Raybe Oh had also worked there.
Given their lifestyle, they would have been the envy of many who saw how they lived flashy lifestyles, owning fast cars and luxury watches.
But they were not selfish and believed in giving back to the community. In fact, they were packing and distributing food to the elderly just some hours before the accident occurred. Many also spoke well of the 5 men.
People said that Jonathan Long was filial, hardworking and motivated.
Gary Wong was also a diligent and ambitious individual who worked from ground zero to being the top rookie in his agency.
Eugene Yap was a very good friend who cared for his friends’ well-being a lot. And he always made sure they are home safe after a night out. And he was a hardworking man who handled his friends’ family insurance.
They would have handled many families’ insurance and there are probably hundreds of insurance policies under their care. Overnight the clients lost not just a friend, but also a financial adviser who is taking care of their wealth planning.
Based on the usual practice, the orphan policies will be distributed randomly among the team. The question is: will the other team member be as dedicated as the former adviser who has known you for a long time and gone through ups and downs with you?
It is hard to find a good adviser who can click with you and go the extra mile for you. That is why we believe in working in a team and going the extra miles for our clients.
The thing that may be on many people’s mind is:
Will insurance pay out?
What insurance will pay out?
For Motor Insurance:
If investigation concludes it as racing/illegal vehicle modification/drink driving, insurers will have the right to repudiate liability.
For Life Insurance:
All will be covered as long as they are bought for more than a year. The alcohol clause and self inflicted clause pertains to Total Permanent Disability and Critical Illness benefits.
For Personal Accident Insurance:
They will exclude violation or attempted violation of law including driving under the influence of alcohol. Participating or Engaging in any race or competition other than by foot or on bicycle is a standard exclusion.
So for the driver, it will most likely not be paid out. For the other passengers, it will be paid out.
For Critical Illness Insurance
It will be paid out to the lady who is severely burned trying to save her fiancée since she was 80% burnt and in a coma.
For Health Insurance
If the lady has a hospital plan with a rider before 2018, the hospital bill can be covered in full. If the rider was bought after 2018, there will be a 5% co-pay. Additionally, if she has a hospital income plan, she can receive daily hospital income.
All these are based on my understanding and everything else will be based on the insurers’ discretion and goodwill.
If the deceased did not leave a valid will behind before he passed away, Singapore’s rules on intestate succession will determine how the deceased’s estate is distributed to the survivors.
To start the distribution process, the deceased’s next-of-kin can apply to the court for a Grant of Letters of Administration. This is a court order authorizing a person to administer the deceased’s estate, and distribute their assets.
With a valid will, the assets can be distributed according to their wishes. When drafting a will a person can change the distribution of the different assets and have full control of it.
The thing is: what happens if there is an ongoing lawsuit?
The families of the deceased passengers can choose to sue the driver’s estate for reckless driving and cause the loss of their loved ones. The shop owner can also sue the driver’s estate for the damage caused to the shop and building. They have the right of compensation. And given these situations, it will be a much more complicated process and the estate will take a longer time to distribute out.
One of the passengers, Eugene Yap, is the co-founder of homegrown bubble tea chain Bober Tea. He opened the brand’s first store here in June 2018 with Mr Joseph Oh and Mr Gabriel Kok. Since then, the homegrown label has expanded in Singapore to eight outlets, with franchises also opening in Manila and California.
According to the intestate law, the deceased’s share of the business will naturally form part of the estate for the benefit of his family.
The family then has two alternatives:
(i) A member of the family could take over the deceased’s position as partner or the family could
appoint someone to act on their behalf.
(ii) Realize the value of the share by selling it.
Both these alternatives can present problems to the family and those remaining in the business. Under alternative (i) a member of the family may not want to become involved in the business or may not have the right experience or qualifications to do the job. The family could also have a problem finding someone who would be willing and able to act on their behalf in the business.
For those remaining in the business, alternative (i)may not be attractive – they might, understandably, be reluctant to invite a member of the family to become a partner or a member of the Board, especially if that person does not have the relevant experience. This would particularly apply if the family had only a minority shareholding in a company or if the deceased’s shareholding had been split between a number of beneficiaries on his death.
Alternative (ii) would probably be preferred by both the family and the remaining partners if the family could sell the share back to the other partners in the business.
This, however, relies on the other partners having funds available for the purchase. They may have to resort to liquidating some assets, borrowing the money or trying to find a replacement partner themselves to buy out the family’s share. It is not certain that any of these options will be open to them, depending on its circumstances.
For the family, the sale of their share may present real difficulties if the remaining partners are unable, or unwilling, to buy out the share within a reasonable period of time. Shares of partnerships and small private companies are not generally readily saleable and even
if the family did find a buyer, they may not get the price they thought the share was worth, especially if it is a minority share. Of course, if the family did sell their share to a third party it would be likely to lead to difficulties for the remaining partners and possibly a takeover or merger, depending on the size of the share held.
Ultimately, if the family and the business cannot resolve the situation satisfactorily, it may lead to the business being forced into liquidation, with both sides coming out poorly.
For a business partner, his share in the business is likely to be a great financial asset so he needs to take steps to protect it, not only for the benefit of his family, but also for the benefit of the other partners in order to help ensure the continuation of the business.
Business Protection Plans, based on a suitable legal arrangement, can provide a simple way to protect the interests of partners and shareholders.
This tragedy has truly opened up many conversations and polarizing views about the actions of the deceased aged between 26 and 29.
Though many left comments of shock, grief, and empathy for the deceased and their family, there have also been a number of hostile and rude remarks.
Social media is rife with negative comments, with many netizens criticizing the actions of the deceased and even stating that they deserved it. Though there is no evidence that the driver was drunk driving, this was a common conclusion that many people jumped to. The authorities have been slammed too for not taking earlier action to curb speeding issues despite residents’ complaints. They added that if this issue was rectified earlier, then this accident might have not occurred and those five lives could have been saved.
This is a time of grief for many. They say, time will heal all wounds, and many will forget this accident and the hurtful words said on social media pages once the news cycle moves on to other news. But to the families who were affected in this accident or other fatal traffic accidents, in most likelihood, will continually be overwhelmed by the images of the accident flashing through their minds. The lives will never be the same again for these families.
No one deserves to die. And no one expects the lives of their loved ones, be it as drivers, passengers or pedestrians, to be claimed on a road. A grief arising from a road accident is thus a traumatic one. The loss is abrupt, the feelings intense.
This is a time for more empathy. And be kind with our actions and our words. We should be mindful of the comments we make and know where to draw the line.
My heart goes out to the family members of the deceased.
For the rest of us:
Cherish our loved ones.
For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
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