Sheng Siong chief executive says kidnap sentence is fair

PHOTO: Lianhe Wanbao, The Straits Times

Take my life, but don't harm my son - that was what Sheng Siong supermarket chief executive Lim Hock Chee's mother, Madam Ng Lye Poh, told her kidnappers after she was abducted in January 2014.

Mr Lim told The New Paper yesterday: "That she was willing to sacrifice her life for me was true mother's love. I was very touched."

He spoke to TNP in a phone interview after Singapore's first kidnap-for-ransom case in over a decade came to a close.

Sales executive Lee Sze Yong, 44, was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to be given three strokes of the cane.

His accomplice, Heng Chen Boon, 52, was jailed three years last year on a reduced charge of helping Lee in the abduction. He finished his sentence earlier this year.

When told of Lee's sentence, Mr Lim said he believed it was fair and that justice was done.

Mr Lim said in Mandarin: "I believe in the courts and the judge, who represent the citizens and justice. I respect the sentence."

He added that his mother, who is now 81, is coping well after the traumatic incident.

"Her health is fine. She's still active, even though her legs occasionally feel weak," he said.

"She still goes to the market in the morning whenever she can."

Lee, who had harboured plans to kidnap someone rich in Singapore, did not deny he abducted Madam Ng in January 2014, reported The Straits Times.

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He admitted he had tricked Madam Ng into getting into his rented car after telling her that her son had a fall in the office.

Lee also testified that he got Heng, who was his former lover, to help swop cars and guard Madam Ng.

He did so by threatening to expose their previous relationship.

Heng later drove the car with Madam Ng inside to a road near Sembawang Park.

Lee then called Mr Lim and demanded a ransom of $20 million, which was later negotiated to $2 million.

Madam Ng was released after Mr Lim dropped off a bag with the cash in Sembawang Park.

Lee was arrested in Ang Mo Kio shortly after, and he led the police to the bag he had thrown into bushes.

Yesterday, Lee, in a letter to the court, asked to be given the death penalty instead of "deprivation of liberty for the rest of my life".

He wrote: "The endless mental torment of hopeless years ahead would hound me for the rest of my life. I fail to see a purpose in life...

"I (have) ruined my life. By dying, I hope that I have repaid my debt and to be at peace."

He said he had asked Madam Ng for forgiveness, and would have liked to have spared her the trauma of testifying at his trial.

He said: "Having my mother about the same age as Madam Ng, I never have (sic) any intention to abuse or hurt her in any way."

In sentencing, Justice Chan Seng Onn told him that he must not despair and that "there is still hope at the end of the day", as the law allows for a review of his life term after he has served 20 years.

Mr Lim also thanked the public for their well wishes and the police for their help.

"This happened almost three years ago and we've moved on.

"I have faith in our police and trust them that our streets are safe and that this won't happen again," he said.

This article was first published on December 2, 2016. Get The New Paper for more stories.