Theatre actress Emma Yong dies aged 36

(Photo from her Facebook page)
(Photo from her Facebook page)

One of Singapore's leading lights in the arts and theatre community has gone out.

Emma Yong, better known as one-third of musical cabaret group Dim Sum Dollies, died from stomach cancer late on Wednesday night at the age of 36.

Yong had suffered a relapse of stomach cancer late last year and had to pull out of Dream Academy's annual year-end show Crazy Christmas.

She had earlier been diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer in January 2011. It was reported that tumours were found all over her spine, womb, pelvis and kidney.

While she responded to the first course of chemotherapy and beat the cancer into remission, it relapsed last September and she soon had to resume aggressive chemotherapy sessions.

Yong is survived by her husband Jerry Lim, whom she married last year.

Fellow theatre actress Neo Swee Lin broke news of her death on Twitter at 12.26am on Thursday morning when she tweeted, "RIP darling Emma. Angels bear you aloft. Our performing family has lost one of our greatest talents. #heartbreak".

Alvin Tan, founder and artistic director of local theatre company The Necessary Stage, told Yahoo! Singapore that Singapore had lost an "irrreplaceable gem."

"I am shocked and sad. She's irreplaceable. A local gem and talent who will be greatly missed," he said.

Local entertainer Dick Lee said he was devastated when he heard the news around midnight.

"I remember meeting her for the first time in the early 90s when she did her first production Bugis Street, and the many musicals we did together, where she brought her great talent, charm and bright personality," said Lee.

Yong's life and career touched a wide cross-section of Singapore community, judging from newsmakers' reaction to her death.

Businessman and philanthropist Frank Cintamani said, "This is so sad. Today is my birthday and the sad irony is she sang during my birthday celebration exactly four years ago."

"For me, she is the best singer and she could carry her tunes better than any other singer in Singapore. It's a big loss," he added.

Chinese radio deejay and actor, Dennis Chew, also told Yahoo! Singapore, "Fate is so cruel, taking away a life just like that. Singapore has lost another talented artiste."

Friends and fellow thespians were also quick to pour out their condolences on Twitter.

Nominated Member of Parliament and actress Janice Koh tweeted, "We have lost a beautiful actress and one of our most talented performers & singers tonight. Rest in peace, my dear Emma. Miss you."

Actress Rebecca Lim tweeted, "Rest in peace Emma Yong. Your talent, strength, optimism & determination will forever be remembered. Thanks for being such an inspiration."

Recent Star Award winner Tay Ping Hui tweeted that "Singapore's has lost one of its most talented actress tonight. Emma Yong, the legacy you left behind continues to inspire us. Rest in Peace."

Blogger Benjamin Lee (@miyagi) also tweeted and said, "Vale, Emma Yong" while local musicians Jack and Rai tweeted, "such a prominent talent in SG's music and theatre scene. Condolences to family and friends".

Watch a performance by Emma Yong below.

Additional reporting by Lin Wenjian, Melissa Aw and Jeanette Tan.