Rag-and-bone man was first to find body in suitcase

Rag-and-bone man was first to find body in suitcase

Most people would be aghast at finding a mutilated body dripping with blood in a luggage bag.

Not rag-and-bone man Chen Xing Lu, 81.

Known affectionately in the Jalan Besar area as "Ah Pek", Mr Chen was the first to discover the legless body of Mr Muhammad Noor, 59, on Wednesday.

Two Pakistani men, Rasheed Muhammad, 43, and Ramzan Rizwan, 25, were charged with his murder on Saturday.

Mr Chen told Shin Min Daily News that he saw a man's back and bloodied clothes when he unzipped the bag.

He did not panic. He said he was not afraid at the sight of the body because he had not done anything wrong. He wanted to take the bag to the nearest police station.

He tried to load it onto a shopping cart but struggled with the weight. Two passers-by tried to help but were shocked when they saw their hands covered in blood.

Another passer-by then called the police.

Mr Chen was doing his usual rounds foraging for used items on Wednesday at around 6pm when he spotted a new luggage bag on the pavement at Syed Alwi Road.

Mr Chen is a familiar face in the Jalan Besar area. He lives in Ang Mo Kio with his younger brother's family of four.

He frequents areas like Little India and Sungei Road because of the numerous shops and traders who buy what he finds.

But little is known about him.

Even Mr Peter Leong, 56, who has known Mr Chen for 41 years, does not know his name.

QUIET

This is mostly because Mr Chen is a man of few words, said Mr Leong, a trader at Sungei Road Flea Market.

"He only talks when he feels like it. He just shoves his goods to us and indicates prices with hand gestures," Mr Leong said in Mandarin.

He often looks out for Mr Chen.

"I once saw him about to eat something from a bin outside Tekka Market. I rushed over and smacked his hand to stop him."

Mr Chen peddles his goods to traders and earns less than $10 a day, reported Shin Min.

Ms Linda Lai, 80, another trader at Sungei Road, said: "Most of us never buy his things because he picks mostly rubbish. He is also very dirty and smelly."

But he has another curious side. "He usually wears a pair of sunshades he had found, just for fun. It does not really fit him and it is slanted. He is funny," she chuckled.

Mr Chen found the body after depositing aluminium cans at Hindoo Trading in Soon Lin building.

Mr Lim Tian Poh, 61, the owner of Hindoo Trading, said of Mr Chen's independent streak: "When we give him money at times, he declines and pats his waist pouch, saying he has enough.

"He can depend on himself."

Mr Chen told Shin Min that he resumed his foraging routine the day after helping with police investigations. He did not tell his family about what happened.

wderek@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 17, 2014.
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