It takes a lot for someone who lives some 4,000km away to help a friend locate a ‘missing person’.
But 39-year-old Taiwanese national Grayson Cheng did this for his Malaysian friend Tay Hock Seng, 40, who asked Cheng to help locate the father of Tay’s Indonesian colleague Natasha Febriani.
Natasha, 20, is a receptionist at the marketing gallery at One Parc Puri while Tay is a senior project manager with CapitaLand Group in Jakarta. They were having lunch with other colleagues early last month when Natasha shared how she had never met her father. Her parents split when her mother Wong Mei Tju, now 55, was about four months pregnant with her.
Tay, originally from Bukit Beruang, Melaka, requested Natasha to furnish him with pictures of her father and other documents, promising to help find him. Tay then reached out to Cheng.
Cheng, a strategic account manager at Meyer Burger Technology Ltd in Taiwan, has only known Tay for less than a year, but did not hesitate even for a moment as he wanted to help unite the family.
“It was dramatic when I heard the story of a family being separated for 20 years. Natasha had never met her father and her two elder brothers. These are things you watch in movies,” said Cheng.
“The location (Chen’s last known address) in Pali Hsiang is an hour’s drive from Taipei. So when Tay asked if I could do some checks, I thought why not as it feels good if you can help someone.”
Cheng, however, said Chen’s last known address in Pali Hsiang was not easy to find.
“Things are supposed to be easy now. But despite living in the smartphone age, I was not able to find the address on Google. It was also impossible to find the road where Chen resides on Google Maps as it’s a mountain area.
“But I knew I had to find Natasha’s father. So I drove up the mountain and stopped and talked to locals in the area and went knocking on doors.
“The people I spoke to didn’t know him and advised me to drive further into the mountain. After knocking on several more doors, I finally found Chen’s house.”
Not knowing how Chen would react, Cheng told him the purpose of his visit.
“I had to make sure everyone was on the same page … if he still had his wife and daughter in his heart. I showed him the documents and mentioned the wife’s name and he immediately said that was his wife, but she left many years ago.
“Chen was surprised his wife wanted to find him.
“I passed Chen the phone numbers of his daughter and wife so they could contact each other. I also gave my number,” he added.
Cheng also snapped a wefie with Chen and sent it to Tay who shared it with Natasha.
Natasha finally met Chen and her two elder siblings – Chen Thin Chun, 27, and Chen Wei Chuan, 24 – in Taiwan last Friday. The trip was made possible thanks to AirAsia which sponsored Natasha, Wong and Tay’s flight tickets after Tay wrote in to the airlines detailing the family’s ordeal.
Cheng said he was not at the airport to witness the historic reunion as he was working.
“I have never done something like this. Things like this don’t happen every day. But what is more important is for the family to enjoy their time together.”
Cheng admitted even his family and friends were sceptical when told of his mission to find Chen.
“It seemed too dramatic. But they started to believe me when I found Chen. No one thought it would end like this.
“I feel I have accomplished a mission impossible. I thought they would only contact each other through phone and didn’t expect Natasha and her mother to take a five-hour flight and come to Taiwan to meet their family here. This is really something.”
Elaborating on his relationship with Tay, Cheng said they knew each other through Tay’s cousin who is also Cheng’s colleague.
“We met a couple of times in Indonesia when I was there for a business trip. I never knew he would one day assign me to such a huge task,” Cheng quipped.
“He just wanted to help Natasha and I am glad I could help.”
Having succeeded in locating a ‘missing’ person, will Cheng put on his detective cap again to do this for someone else?
“Of course, but I must do some due diligence. If it’s okay, I will give it a try,” he said in jest.
Tay, meanwhile, said he was glad the mission was accomplished.
“I would like to thank Cheng and AirAsia for making it possible for the family to unite. I have known Cheng only for a short time and he agreed to do this. AirAsia, meanwhile, was sincere in helping Natasha and Wong fly to Taiwan,” said Tay.
“I’m glad the family can now now pick up from where they left 20 years ago. I wish them all the best,” he said.
Main image: Cheng takes a wefie with Chen (left).