Update: According to a press statement by the police on Sunday (July 10), the case has been classified as murder and police have traced the whereabouts of 54-year-old Yeo Ai Leng to assist with investigations. The police have also clarified that he is not a suspect in the case. Anyone with information can call the police at 1800-255-0000.
A 52-year-old coffee-shop helper, known as Niu-ge, was found dead after a fight in Lorong 23 Geylang yesterday (July 9) at 8am.
Five hours later, his bloodied corpse, which had visible injuries to the face, was lying on the road and his head was resting on the kerb.
Witnesses say the body was initially covered with a white cloth and a blue tent.
But when The New Paper on Sunday (TNPS) arrived at the scene at 10.30am, the cloth had been removed.
In the suffocating heat, the body could be seen by anyone standing behind the police cordon, which was placed about 20m away.
Despite the gruesome sight, passers-by gawked. Many were snapping away with their mobile phones.
Scores of pictures were later uploaded on social media sites like Facebook.
This prolonged and open display, however, prompted outrage from Mr Niu-ge's relative, a woman in her early 20s who arrived at 12.30pm.
Mr Niu-ge's relative, a woman in her early 20s, was distraught when she saw the body. Photo: Shin Min Daily News
"Why do you leave his body in the open, to be exposed to the sun?" Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao reported her as calling out to no one in particular.
Mr Niu-ge's body was eventually removed at about 1.30pm.
There was a deep cut running from near his left ear to the top of his head.
The scene of the crime, next to a crowded coffee shop, was spattered with blood.
Mr Niu-ge's final moments were witnessed by a cabby, who wanted to be known only as Mr Zhang, 64.
He told TNPS: "He was wearing red, and there was so much blood that I couldn't tell if it was his clothes or the blood.
"He was also breathing very heavily. I couldn't bear to look for too long, and I wouldn't want to see it again."
An expert familiar with crime scenes, who declined to be named, said it is rare for a corpse to be left uncovered for such a long time.
He said: "But the police have to conduct their investigation, no matter what.
"It is just unfortunate that the body was found on such a busy road, (and resulted in) so many people taking photos of the body (from behind) the police cordon."
TNPS understands that Mr Niu-ge's body was not covered so that the police forensics team could conduct their investigation.
Police officers were seen taking photos of the scene and the body.
Investigators also found several weapons, including a long wooden stick and a short knife, at the scene.
A visibly shocked coffee-shop assistant at Victoria Food Court in Lorong 23 witnessed the confrontation between the two men just before Mr Niu-ge collapsed.
The middle-aged woman, who declined to be named, said the attack happened a few metres outside the coffee shop at 8am.
She told TNPS in Mandarin: "I think there were two rounds of fighting because Niu-ge already had injuries at the back of his head when he was at the coffee shop.
"I only saw the second attack from behind and the attacker ran away in the direction of Lorong 21."
She recognised the attacker, whom she said was a regular at the coffee shop who would order hot tea every morning.
She said: "He has messy hair and was a little crazy, always talking to himself. I tried to avoid him as much as possible."
Mr Tan Zhi Jia, 32, an assistant at another coffee shop in Lorong 23, told TNPS there was closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the victim at his coffee shop at about 7.45am.
He said: "He went to the kitchen to wash his hands, which had blood on them. He told my colleagues that he had fallen down."
Workers at the coffee shops along Lorong 23 had contrasting impressions of the victim.
Ms Audrey Liang, 37, who sells tissue paper, said she heard he had a debt problem.
She said: "He was always alone and kept to himself. I heard that he was hot-tempered too."
However, Mr Tan said Mr Niu-ge was chatty and friendly.
The Chinese national, who has been here for six years, said: "We would talk about Singapore, and he would tell me about his job."
A police spokesman said they received a call asking for assistance at about 8am.
A man was found lying motionless on the ground. About 10 minutes later, he was pronounced dead.
Police are investigating the unnatural death.
Anyone with information should call the police hotline at 1800-255-000 or submit the information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness
All information will be kept strictly confidential.
This article was first published on July 10, 2016.
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See also: Man dies in alleged murder at Geylang Rd