As the University and the nation paused to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the horrors of 9/11, the UL community overlooked one our own who was killed in the Twin Towers: Malaysian Ang Siew Nya.
American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center North Tower at 8.50am, where Ang Siew Nya, 37, a technical analyst for Marsh USA Inc, was in her office on the 95th floor. She had returned to work just two days earlier after a week of medical leave.
According to an article that was published in The Star-Ledger, Ang enrolled in a Canadian college when she was 18. She moved to the United States three years later to study electrical engineering at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana.
While there, she met husband Lee Kui-Liong. By 2001, they were residing with their two daughters, Jeanee, eight, and Winnee, four, in New Jersey. A New York Times report noted that she encouraged her daughters to take up dance, piano, ice skating, gymnastics and French.
Ang not only valued family time, but was also very serious about her job, where she quickly won promotions.
Ang would leave for work early before anyone else in the house was awake. She would then call at 8am to check on the girls. After Sept 11, the paper noted, the girls said good night to a picture of Ang, which hung on the bedroom wall. Some nights, they complained to it too.
“Sometimes I have to let them know that Mommy is in heaven, and other than that I just don’t know what to say,” the father said. “Sometimes if they say ‘I want mommy,’ I can’t do anything’.”
The following year, Lee and his two daughters flew back to Ang’s hometown in Penang to attend her memorial with her family. Ang’s father, Ang Ah Bah, and her brother, Khee Kheng, had flown to New York the previous year for Ang’s memorial.
In an interview with The Star in 2002 to mark the first anniversary, Ang’s brother Kee San voiced the anguish the family felt. “There’s nothing to say. It’s over. There’s nothing we can do. It’s really no point bringing it up. The more we talk about it, the sadder we are. The kids will cry,” he said.
In 2006, Ang’s eldest daughter’s responded to a tribute left on the Internet by someone who did not know her mother.
“Hi, I just want to say thank you for choosing her. She was my Mom and I miss her so much. She was a great person and now that she is gone, (it) is hard for me to deal with even though it has been five years. Now I have to help my dad take care of my little sister who was too young to really understand what had happened at the time.”
Reprint courtesy of Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad.