No more pain for my son

A MOTHER'S PAIN: Mr Tan Poh Ying's mother, Madam Teo Kiu Wah, breaks down at her son's wake.

My son's agony is finally over.

These were the words of Madam Teo Kiu Wah, 65, at her 43-year-old son's wake.

Mr Tan Poh Ying died at Tan Tock Seng Hospital on Thursday afternoon from complications of his kidney and spine.

But the Tan family's tragedy started more than 30 years ago.

Madam Teo's husband, Mr Tan Cheng Chuan, who has schizophrenia, threw their son, then 11, from their eighth-storey flat in Whampoa.

The intellectually disabled boy, who became paralysed from the waist down, had been living in welfare homes ever since.

"He has suffered so much since he was young. I've always thought that perhaps it would have been better if my son had died 32 years ago," an emotional Madam Teo said in Mandarin.

"At least his pain would have been shorter."

Newspaper reports from 1982 detailed the chilling events leading up to the incident.

The senior Mr Tan had been discharged from Woodbridge Hospital, now known as the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), just two weeks earlier.

His son had just showered and Madam Teo went to another room to get him some clothes.

Mr Tan grabbed the boy, who could not speak, and threw him out of a kitchen window.

He reportedly chanted: "This child is better off dead."

Mr Tan was charged with attempted murder, but was acquitted and ordered to be placed in a mental institution. He is still living at the IMH today.

Madam Teo's younger son, Mr Tan Poh Kim, 40, an odd job labourer, recalled the incident: "My brother hit a tree before falling on the ground. I was not scared and I ran downstairs after that."

Mr Tan Poh Kim choked back tears as he spoke about his brother, whom he was close to. He would visit his brother in a welfare home in Buangkok after visiting his father at the nearby IMH.

"My brother liked to watch television and when volunteers came by to play games, he would be very happy," he said in Mandarin.

He and his mother, a Malaysian, are living with a friend in a flat at Toa Payoh. Mr Tan Poh Kim, a permanent resident with Primary 6 education, earns only about $30 a day.

CAN'T AFFORD FUNERAL

As they could not afford a funeral for Mr Tan Poh Ying, they approached Mr Roland Tay's Direct Funeral Services for help with a simple cremation.

Mr Tay offered to provide a three-day Buddhist wake for Mr Tan for free.

"The family has gone through a lot and deserves our help," said funeral director Jenny Tay, who is also helping to arrange for the senior Mr Tan to see his son for the last time.

Asked if he was angry with his father for what he did, Mr Tan Poh Kim said no.

"Without our father, my brother and I would not be around today," he said. "When I visited my father previously, he said that he regretted what he had done to my brother.

"I hope he gets to see my brother for the last time."

linheng@sph.com.sg

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