Coroner: No one was forced to jump
Fri, Sep 18, 2009
The New Paper

PEER influence, strong group identity and perhaps a lack of maturity could have been the reasons why the boys took part in Witaya's practices and beliefs, State Coroner Victor Yeo said.

He added that doing so gave them a 'sense of purpose and meaning in life'.

Said Mr Yeo: 'It was unfortunate that, given Witaya's strong influence over the group, none of the boys, who were afraid and hesitant about carrying out their suicide pact, could dissuade Witaya.'

Mr Yeo said that from the testimonies of the surviving boys, it was clear that no one had been forced to carry out the act. Neither were they instigated to take the first plunge.

Witaya had told them that World War III was coming and they had to 'sacrifice' themselves and be resurrected as slayers. They could then kill demons and save the world.

Every Friday

Since 2006, the group had been going to Witaya's flat every Friday for rituals and spiritual activities.

Over time, they became close and treated Witaya's flat as a temple, which they named Sheng Long Fu (Mandarin for House of the Almighty Dragon).

They'd seen Witaya go into trances, during which he communicated with the 'Gods of Heaven and Hell'.

Witaya first told the group that they had to prepare their souls to become slayers in 2007.

Two months before the incident, he again told them that they were the 'chosen ones' to destroy demons and save the world.

Witaya was very firm and wanted to prove his beliefs.

The group decided to carry out the pact after celebrating one of the boys' birthday.

One of the boys backed out and left, and what happened after that was a 'disturbing account' of which one would jump first, said Mr Yeo.

Witaya offered to go first because he was the leader. Chan Hong volunteered to jump with him.

The duo climbed down the window ledge twice as Chan Hong had hesitated and was afraid. During their third attempt, they held hands, counted to three and jumped.

The remaining five boys were divided into two groups and were supposed to follow suit.

Five of the boys were avid players of the computer game World of Warcraft and Romance of The Three Kingdoms.

But in his findings, Mr Yeo said that there was no evidence to suggest that the games were related to their suicide pact.

'I would agree that the suicide pact was principally due to Witaya's strong influence on the group and he managed to persuade the rest of them to join in,' he said.

Mr Yeo added that although Witaya's motive was to know the truth of his beliefs, there was evidence that the boy had his share of problems at home.

Witaya felt sad about his parents' separation and pending divorce. He also wanted to drop out of school and was frequently playing truant.

Chong Shin Yen


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This article was first published in The New Paper.

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