Kovan murders: Widow so distraught she sits out prayers

SINGAPORE - The police are surrounding my sister's house and we don't know why. That was what Madam Ong Ah Tang's brother had told me as we stood with her near the blood-stained road outside the metal gate of 14J Hillside Drive last Wednesday evening.

Unknown to her, the bloodied body of her husband lay inside.

While we stood there in pale sunlight around 5.30pm, one could only imagine what was running through her head.

But whatever the thoughts were, they could not prepare her for what she was about to hear when the police took her and her brother, Mr Ong Boon Kok, aside.

Then, after a moment, it sank in - she had lost her husband and her son.

Mr Tan Boon Sin, 66, and Mr Tan Chee Heong, 42, had been killed, allegedly by police officer Iskandar Rahmat, that afternoon. The elder Mr Tan was found dead with slash wounds in his house while his son was found dead outside Kovan MRT after being dragged by a car for about 1km.

Both men she deeply loved brutally murdered. Both gone in an instant. With that, one of the darkest hours of her life began.

She broke down almost immediately and wailed loudly as she was led into a disused school building opposite her house. I saw her slumped on the shoulder of a relative, sobbing, before police cordoned off the area.

The wailing continued till midnight. She and her family members were driven off in four cars at 5.30am the next day.

Madam Ong was next seen at the mortuary on Sunday, when she turned up to claim the bodies of her husband and son. She was calm then, but not for long.

She was seen to be so distraught later during the wake she had to sit out the prayers.

When asked to say goodbye before the coffins were sealed, she had to be supported by her younger son and older brother. Wailing loudly when she saw the bodies, she was taken away again.

Led out

At one point, she had to be led out of the Teochew Funeral Parlour and into a black Toyota sport utility vehicle to rest for a while.

But on Monday, Madam Ong, dressed in a grey polo shirt, looked steadier and calmer as she took part in afternoon prayers and attended to visitors.

She gave the visiting relatives and family friends long and tight embraces while burying her face in their shoulders.

Her grief was shared by her daughter-in-law, who was also present at the joint wake.

As soon as the afternoon prayer rites were over, the younger Mr Tan's widow sat herself near the coffins and buried her head in her hands, sobbing. Her elder son, 10, ran up to offer her a piece of tissue paper before sitting down next to her.

The wake on Monday was attended by about 100 relatives, friends and neighbours. Workers' Party Members of Parliament Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) and Lee Li Lian (Punggol East SMC) also came to offer their condolences.

About 50 wreaths were delivered to the grieving families. One of them had a picture of the elder Mr Tan, an avid angler, proudly holding up a large fish.

Mr Ong, the family's spokesman, looked tired as he shuffled from table to table, attending to visitors and offering refreshments.

When approached by the media, he said: "The family is doing well."

Lianhe Wanbao reported on Monday that a search for the murder weapon was conducted at East Coast Park for five hours on Monday evening.

The Chinese evening daily also reported that about 30 police officers and divers were deployed over a plot the size of 1½ football fields - including walkways and waterways.

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