No grudge although he lost 6 fingers in Kallang slashings

No grudge although he lost 6 fingers in Kallang slashings

In 2010, four men carried out a series of violent robberies that left one person dead and three other victims injured. The Sunday Times speaks to the survivors of the Kallang slashings.

Almost five years ago to the day, Mr Ang Jun Heng thought he was going to die.

He was 19 then, serving his national service after graduating from Raffles Institution, where he was the captain of the canoeing team.

While walking back to his Sims Drive home from the Kallang MRT station on the night of May 29, he was attacked by four men from Sarawak. One of them was carrying a parang.

They hit the back of his head first, then punched, kicked and slashed him after he fell.

After rummaging through his pockets, as Mr Ang slipped in and out of consciousness, they left him in a pool of blood.

His left palm had nearly been chopped off completely. He had multiple wounds to the head, and a gash in the neck so deep, it was only a millimetre or two from severely damaging his spinal cord.

For nine hours he lay there, until a pedestrian spotted him at 7am the next day and called for an ambulance. Doctors were able to treat most of his injuries, save for most of his left hand, which had to be amputated, leaving only a thumb.

"I was pretty certain I was going to die," Mr Ang, now 24 and a commerce major at the University of Virginia in the United States, told The Sunday Times last week, when two of his assailants were sentenced.

"But when I found myself surrounded by friends and family in the intensive care unit, all I cared about was showing how I could make the best of my situation."

He adapted to life with six fingers, learning how to use his left stump and thumb to hold utensils, and grew accustomed to typing with one hand. He gradually stopped minding strangers who would stare at the smooth skin wrapped around where his severed fingers used to be.

A year after the attack, Mr Ang completed his Naval Diving Unit basic diving course that included circuit training activities such as push-ups and pull-ups - while wearing a hook-like device.

Mr Ang even represented Singapore in the 2011 Paracanoe World Championships, and would go on to don national colours for two years. He made the Rio 2016 Paralympics a goal, but due to recent rule changes in the sport that would no longer consider his upper limb disability eligible for entry, Mr Ang had to dream bigger.

He now wants to compete against able-bodied athletes.

"Deep down, I still wish I can train and compete in some sport at a high level," he said, adding that he also hopes to start up a "cool" social enterprise to give back to society.

The second of three children, Mr Ang insists he is past the trauma of the attack. "It no longer haunts me.

"I've met many friends who have been through their own tough times, and we all agree that life is bigger than one incident. It's just one chapter in my life that I occasionally flip to when sharing a story."

One of the four assailants, Donny Meluda, 24, is still at large.

Hairee Landak, 23, was sentenced in 2013 to 33 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane for armed robbery with grievous hurt.

Micheal Garing and Tony Imba were convicted of murder. Last Monday, they were sentenced to death and life imprisonment with caning, respectively.

The Attorney-General's Chambers, which had been arguing for the death penalty for both men, said on Friday that it is appealing against Tony's sentence.

The court proceedings offer Mr Ang some closure, but he said he is affected only because he knows his friends and family care about the sentencing.

"I have never borne any grudge against my assailants," he said.

"All I felt was regret; I regret that one of the victims lost his life, widowing his wife and orphaning his children; I regret that the other victims could no longer use their hands and do the work they came here to do; I regret that the assailants made a mistake and now have to pay a heavy price for it."

This article was first published on April 26, 2015.
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