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Wednesday, 11 January 2012 00:00

Farewell and Best Wishes to Brother Tan Peng Hong

Written by  By Loh Siew Chien, Melaka/ Translated by Hew Kwee Heong

Brother Peng Hong sharing with the staff of Tzu Chi Melaka on December 3, 2011.【Photograph by Yong Siew Lee】

Brother Tan Peng Hong, senior volunteer of Tzu Chi Melaka passed away peacefully on January 8, 2012, at 8.30 am. Some 500 people attended his memorial service on January 10; and at his funeral on January 11, 100 Tzu Chi volunteers joined the procession. They all bade farewell to their respected fellow brother, who is indeed a role model for all to emulate.


On December 3, 2011, and despite being very weak after the radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments, Brother Tan Peng Hong still shared the story about an eagle with the staff of Tzu Chi Melaka at their annual camp. 

"The Eagle has the longest life-span of its species, living up to 70 years. But to reach this age, the eagle must make a hard decision when it reaches 40. In its 40th year, its long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey for food; its long and sharp beak becomes bent; and due to the thick feathers, its old and heavy wings will stick to its chest, making it difficult to fly.

At this stage, the eagle is left with only two options, that is, DIE or go through a painful process of CHANGE, which lasts for 150 days. The process requires the eagle to fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. There the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it falls out. The eagle will then wait for a new beak to grow back; after which, it will remove its talons. When its new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its old feathers. After 5 months, the eagle takes its flight of rebirth and lives for another 30 years."

After he shared this story, everyone was silent and started thinking. He then told them: "Do we have to wait till impermanence strikes to make changes?"

This was his last lecture, he reminded everyone to seize the present moment to do good deeds and cultivate blessings.

Wisdom is everlasting

On January 8, Tzu Chi Melaka held its Year-End Distribution for care-recipients. When everyone was busily welcoming guests, the sad news of Brother Peng Hong's demise came in. The volunteers were sad but still calmly completed their task on hand before going to his house to help out.

On January 10, the volunteers held a memorial service for him. About 500 relatives, friends and fellow volunteers attended the service.

Master Cheng Yen sent her condolence and written eulogy, which was read by Sister Lim Geok Choe. Master gave her blessing and wished for Brother Peng Hong to return soon to fulfill his wish to become a living Bodhisattva to lead the way.

In his 60 years of life, the last 15 years were spent carrying out Tzu Chi's work. Brother Peng Hong had been involved in all Tzu Chi's missions - Charity, Medicine, Education, Culture/Humanity, Environmental Protection, International Relief and Community Volunteerism. One day in July 2011, Brother Peng Hong hurt his back and discovered he had 4th stage nose cancer that had spread to his spinal cord.

Brother Peng Hong accepted his terminal illness positively. He became even more diligent; and because he did not know how much time he had left, he made full use of his life.

During one event, where he was the photographer, he worked very hard although his body was aching. When asked if he was tired he replied, "When you are happy and determined to accomplish a task, you forget the pain."

In the film entitled "Learn from Sickness", produced by the Audio-Visual Department, Brother Peng Hong said, "The suffering of sickness is also a blessing because even though my body is suffering, spiritually I grow tremendously." This film was scheduled to be screened on Da Ai TV on January 14, 2012. Sadly, Brother Peng Hong did not get to view it before his demise but it was screened at his memorial service. All present cried seeing him in the picture, so tranquil, courageous and cheerful right to the end.

So healthy mentally

After the film, Sister Wong Ah Lan said, "With my eyes seeing him in the film and my ears hearing his voice, I feel that he is by my side. I never thought that he will go earlier than me. I am very sad."

Ah Lan and Peng Hong met in Tzu Chi 15 years ago. They had developed a very close brother and sister relationship; and had worked together to accomplish many of Tzu Chi's tasks throughout the years.

A terminal cancer patient herself, Sister Ah Lan could fully understand the pain he endured. She shared her experience with him, and they both encouraged each other along the journey of living with cancer. Fortunately, both of them had developed a very positive attitude towards their illness.

Ah Lan said, "His demise reminds me to treasure my life even more and to live it to the fullest."

Work till the end

Volunteer Ho Chiew Yin said, "Brother Peng Hong had earlier asked us to have a meeting to discuss matters about our Continuing Education, but I was reluctant to comply. We delayed it until December 28, and the meeting was held at his house. When I saw his condition and discovered that he had problems standing up, I deeply regretted being so inconsiderate."

In that meeting, Brother Peng Hong kept reminding the volunteers to value the opportunity to serve. Chiew Yin said, "His serious attitude is what I should adopt. I will now be more mindful in the development of our Continuing Education."

Tai Piang Boon, who is in the same community zone as Brother Peng Hong, had always treated the latter as a big brother. He shared at the memorial service that although he became very close to Brother Peng Hong only in the last 2 years, he has learnt a lot from the late brother, especially his virtue.

Piang Boon shared, "His strongwill and his positive attitude in facing difficulties or setbacks had greatly influenced and motivated me on the Tzu Chi Path. I am deeply grateful to him for his company and protection."

Tan Teck Siang said he was grateful to Brother Peng Hong for the opportunity to perform at the musical sign language performance of the "Sutra of Innumerable Meanings" last year, together with the late brother. Teck Siang revealed that he had thought of withdrawing due to his heavy workload, but Brother Peng Hong encouraged him by saying that it was a very precious opportunity and that he would benefit greatly from it. Sure enough, Teck Siang was very happy with the experience and has never given up on any opportunity to participate in Sutra Performance after that.

"Brother Peng Hong's greatest influence on me is the reminder to seize the present moment, just do it!" Teck Siang said.

Relentlessly spreading the seeds of love

Brother Peng Hong's eldest son, Wei Ren said, "My father never wanted others to worry for him. So, we will keep smiling, so that when he turns to see us, he sees our smile."

Wei Ren said the image of how his father was respected by his subordinates when he was young has greatly influenced both him and his brother Wei Jie; and they have emulated their father since young.

Wei Ren added, "My father had told me: We must treat others as we wish others to treat us. His love was not only confined to his family, but he had also extended it to society; and this is what we must learn from him."

Wei Jie said, "I am very sure that my father will return soon to carry on helping Master Cheng Yen with the mission on purifying minds."

Although Wei Ren and Wei Jie are now residing in Australia, we sincerely hope that they will join the family of Tzu Chi soon.



Around noon on January 11, Brother Peng Hong's hearse arrived at Melaka Jing-Si Hall for his final tour before departing for the crematorium. A hundred fellow volunteers formed the funeral procession to accompany Brother Peng Hong on his final journey, and with a wish to meet him again on the Path of Bodhisattva.

Dear Brother Peng Hong, all the best to you! You will forever be in our minds.

 

Brother Peng Hong's family and his hearse at Melaka Jing-Si Hall on January 11, 2012.【Photograph by Yong Siew Lee】   Tzu Chi Melaka's CEO, Lim Geok Choe reading Master Cheng Yen's eulogy at Brother Peng Hong's memorial service.【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】

Brother Peng Hong's family and his hearse at Melaka Jing-Si Hall on January 11, 2012.【Photograph by Yong Siew Lee】
 
Tzu Chi Melaka's CEO, Lim Geok Choe reading Master Cheng Yen's eulogy at Brother Peng Hong's memorial service.【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】
 
Wei Ren (right) and Wei Jie (left) sharing about their father with relatives, friends and Tzu Chi volunteers.【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】   About 500 people attended the memorial service for Brother Peng Hong.【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】

Wei Ren (right) and Wei Jie (left) sharing about their father with relatives, friends and Tzu Chi volunteers.【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】
 
 
About 500 people attended the memorial service for Brother Peng Hong.【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】
 
Sister Wong Ah Lan (right) said Brother Peng Hong's demise has reminded her to be more diligent. Brother Peng Hong's wife, Choo Bee Wah (left).【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】   A hundred Tzu Chi volunteers accompanying Brother Peng Hong on his final journey.【Photograph by Yong Siew Lee】

Sister Wong Ah Lan (right) said Brother Peng Hong's demise has reminded her to be more diligent. Brother Peng Hong's wife, Choo Bee Wah (left).【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】
 
 
A hundred Tzu Chi volunteers accompanying Brother Peng Hong on his final journey.【Photograph by Yong Siew Lee】

 

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Brother Tan Peng Hong, senior volunteer of Tzu Chi Melaka passed away peacefully on January 8, 2012, at 8.30 am. Some 500 people attended his memorial service on January 10; and at his funeral on January 11, 100 Tzu Chi volunteers joined the procession. They all bade farewell to their respected fellow brother, who is indeed a role model for all to emulate. 

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