SINGAPORE: The family of missing Singaporean kayaker Tan Eng Soon on Monday (Aug 19) issued their "heartfelt thanks" to those involved in looking for him, after authorities called off a search operation on Sunday night.
Mr Tan went missing along with fellow Singaporean Puah Geok Tin while kayaking off the coast of Mersing on Aug 8.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Monday announced they had called off the search and rescue operation for him on Sunday night, citing a lack of new leads.
In a thank you note issued via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Mr Tan's family expressed their gratitude to all those involved in the search.
"We, the family of Tan Eng Soon, would like to thank the MMEA and all other organisations that have been involved in the search for him," they said.
"The support and compassion of the local fishermen and community has also touched us and given us strength through this difficult time."
"We would also like to offer our heartfelt thanks to the Singapore MFA, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to be with us every step of the way," they added.
"Although we were not able to find his body, we take heart in the fact that he loved the sea and he will be at peace there."
The body of Ms Puah was found last week in the waters off Kemaman, Terengganu. The two were separated from their group while kayaking near the Endau islands.
Singapore authorities expressed their "deepest sympathies" to both families.
"We express our deepest sympathies to the families of the two Singaporeans involved in a mishap while kayaking in Mersing, Malaysia," said MFA in a press statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families during this difficult time."
The statement also expressed Singapore's "deep appreciation" to the Malaysian government and all Malaysian agencies involved in the search and rescue operation.
"It was an intensive operation, during which assets and manpower were deployed in challenging conditions that covered a vast area of waters off the Malaysian states of Johor, Pahang and Terengganu," said MFA.
"We are especially grateful to the MMEA, who led the (search and rescue) efforts and coordinated amongst the various Malaysian agencies both on the ground and at sea.
"We have also been heartened by the support and assistance of ordinary Malaysians from all walks of life, especially the fishermen in the area who played a critical role in the recovery efforts."