Accused kidnappers 'in long-term relationship'

SINGAPORE- The two men accused of Wednesday's kidnapping for ransom are not just alleged partners in crime, but also long-time lovers and former business associates.

Lee Sze Yong and Heng Chen Boon have apparently been living together for more than 10 years, according to Lee's mother, speaking to reporters at her flat on Hougang Street 51.

"My son is in trouble, of course I am very sad," she said in Mandarin when asked how she felt after learning of Lee's arrest yesterday.

Her 41-year-old son was charged in a district court earlier in the morning with the abduction of Madam Ng Lye Poh along Hougang Avenue 2.

Heng, 50, is facing a single charge of abetting the offence, but they both face the death penalty or life imprisonment if found guilty under the Kidnapping Act.

Lee may also be caned if convicted as he is under 50.

The two men were arrested on Thursday in connection with the kidnapping of Madam Ng, the 79-year-old mother of Sheng Siong supermarket chief executive Lim Hock Chee.

The police had identified Lee as an odd-job worker, while Heng was a credit card promoter.

A screening with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority revealed that Lee and Heng had started cleaning company Plus Concept together in 1999, but it folded two years later.

Lee was also the director of a computer parts and software company called EGlobal Tech, which was registered in 2006, and an Internet marketing company two years ago. Both, however, were struck off in 2012.

Lee's mother, who wanted to be known only as Madam Seow, initially denied he and Heng were lovers, claiming that they were "just sworn brothers".

But she let on that they were in a long-term relationship when pressed by the media gathered outside her flat, which she shared with the two men.

Yesterday, Shin Min Daily News also quoted Madam Seow as saying she had accepted that her son and Heng were lovers, and treated the older man as a second son.

Neighbours The Straits Times spoke to said Lee and Heng moved into the flat with Madam Seow more than 10 years ago, but they kept mostly to themselves.

A clerk who lives next door to the family said Heng was friendlier, and would make small talk with her family when they passed each other in the corridor.

The woman, who wanted to be known only as Ms Chu, said she remembered the two men moving cleaning equipment like brooms and mops into a white Volkswagen hatchback a few years ago.

Madam Seow, who is in her 70s, described Lee as a filial son. She said: "He would give me a few hundred dollars to spend every month."

She added that Lee - her only child - and Heng would usually return home every night, but she last spoke to them in person on Monday.

On Wednesday, the day of the kidnapping incident, Madam Seow said Lee told her he would not be returning to the flat that night.

"He just told me he had no time to come home," she said.

Both Lee and Heng have been remanded in police custody for further investigation.

The case against them will be heard again next Friday.

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