Singapore Florist Scene Pioneer Dies at 74 of Covid-19, Singapore News & Top Stories
SINGAPORE – When Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat hosted a wedding banquet here in 1987, he turned to Singapore’s most esteemed florist at the time.
Mr. Michael Ong Teong Seng, the founder of florist Fleuridee, was a pioneer in the flower arrangement scene here.
On Saturday October 2, the 74-year-old man died from complications from Covid-19.
Mr. Ong has dedicated over 40 years of his life to his craft, having opened Fleuridee at the Shaw Center in the 1970s.
His sister, Ms Lillian Clonts, 63, told the Straits Times that he has made a name for himself with his artistic designs, gradually building his client base among the various office workers in the area.
“Secretaries during their lunch break would find his flower arrangements quite unique, so order from him, and some have become repeat customers,” she said.
Mr. Ong was also the designated florist for many visits here by foreign dignitaries.
These included state visits by former presidents of the United States, the Sultan of Brunei and British Queen Elizabeth II.
He is described by his friends and family as a quick-witted man with a sense of humor who brought joy to everyone he met.
Mr. Ong, who was not married, was also one of the first to adopt ikebana, a Japanese style of flower arrangement here.
His niece, Ms Vera Ong, 51, who works in the sports industry, described him as Singapore’s premier florist in his prime.
“He had an incredible wealth of knowledge about flora and botany,” she said. “You could take a picture of any flower and he could tell you exactly what it is.”
Mr Ong, who suffered from high blood pressure, suffered a stroke last year but recovered and was mentally sharp and healthy.
He started to feel bad on September 1 and told his family about it at the September 3 dinner. They initially thought it was an allergic reaction, but told her to get tested anyway.
He tested positive for Covid-19 on September 4 and was taken to a hotel for isolation the same day. Ms Ong said he spent several days at the hotel and appeared to be doing better.
But within a week, he was taken to Changi General Hospital (CGH).
“At first he was still fine, my cousins still calling him and talking to him from the United States,” Ms. Ong said.
“But his condition took a sudden turn and he was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU).”
A tube was inserted into Mr. Ong’s throat and he was placed under oxygen. His lungs were also infected.
Ms Ong said it was difficult for the family as none of them had been able to see or speak to Mr Ong from then until his death about three weeks later.
She said Mr Ong, who was fully vaccinated, died at CGH around 6 p.m. on October 2.
Aside from his heritage in flower arranging, Mr. Ong’s work in other art forms can be found around Singapore. Photos of his paper sculptures, which took months of folding and cutting newspapers, hang in the Mikuni Japanese restaurant at Fairmont Singapore.
He is also known to have turned to painting and block stamping in the latter part of his life, with his nature inspired pieces.
As of Monday, October 4, a total of 121 people have died from complications from Covid-19.
Mr Ong’s family said they have decided not to hold a vigil because the elderly should not be encouraged to congregate at this time.
But they are trying to organize a memorial and have set up a memorial page with his name on this website.