Survivor of Kallang slashings hope to return to S'pore

Survivor of Kallang slashings hope to return to S'pore

Mr Egan Karuppaiah was walking along the path behind Kallang MRT station at around 8.30pm on May 29, 2010 when four men suddenly blocked his path.

The next thing he knew, his hands were "dangling", and his mobile phone and some cash were gone.

A few of his fingers were severed in the incident, one of the violent robberies carried out by four men from Sarawak in 2010.

The robbery took place just five months after Mr Egan had started working in Singapore and forced him to give up his job as a pipe fitter here.

But it has not tainted Mr Egan's feelings about Singapore in any way. Now that his fingers have been re-attached, and healed, he wants to return.

Speaking to The Sunday Times over the telephone from his home in India, Mr Egan, 44, said in Tamil: "Every day, I hope someone from Singapore calls me back. I am willing to work as anything - a cleaner, a waiter. As long as someone will take me, I will come."

Mr Egan survived the slashing, along with two other victims of the Sarawak robbers, Mr Ang Jun Heng, now 24, and Indian construction worker Sandeep Singh, now 28. But another Indian worker, Mr Shanmuganathan Dillidurai, did not survive.

Mr Singh, who had an open skull fracture, recovered the quickest, and resumed work even as he stayed in Singapore as a witness for the case. He left the city-state only last year to be married back in India.

Mr Egan was less lucky. Even after an operation to re-attach his severed fingers, his fingers were so stiff that he could not work for almost four years.

But he has recovered now, after diligently performing the exercises recommended by a physiotherapist, he said. He can carry 10kg pails of water on each hand, he added.

He stayed in a nursing home here, paid for by the Migrant Workers' Centre, and at a dormitory until he went back to India in the middle of last year.

He now works as a shop assistant from 9am to 2pm six days a week, taking home 200 rupees (S$4.20) a week in a job offered to him out of goodwill. His wife earns 50 rupees a week as a rice mill worker. They have a daughter, 20, who is studying in an Indian college, and a son, 24, who studied electronics and is looking for a job.

Mr Egan said he can never repay the kindness extended to him by people in Singapore after the attack. He received more than $90,000 in donations, which he used to buy a new house as his old home had fallen into disrepair.

The money also went to his family's living expenses, including allowances for his children as they pursued their studies.

Mr Egan is positive about the future and calls the robbery nothing but a "nightmare" that he has put behind him.

"I don't think about what happened any more," he said. "I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. It could have happened to anyone."

This article was first published on April 26, 2015.
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