On Jan 8, 2014, 44-year-old sales executive Lee Sze Yong approached the elderly mother of Sheng Siong supermarket boss Lim Hock Chee with the intent to abduct her for ransom.
He succeeded when he managed to trick Madam Ng Lye Poh, then 79, into a rented Honda Civic after lying that her son had a fall in the office.
He later called Mr Lim to demand for a ransom of S$20 million, but the sum was negotiated down to S$2 million.
Madam Ng was released after a bag with cash was dropped off at a tree in Sembawang Park. Lee was arrested in Ang Mo Kio quickly after and led the police to the bag he had thrown into the bushes.
Lee, who was saddled with credit card debts, admitted on trial last week that it struck him that he could kidnap someone and demand for a ransom to clear his debts after reading the Forbes List of Singapore’s richest.
Madam Ng’s kidnapping was Singapore’s first kidnap-over-ransom case in over a decade. As a whole, kidnapping cases are rare in Singapore and the deed is punishable by death.
Crime rates in Singapore remain among the lowest in the world. But as the saying goes, “low crime doesn’t mean no crime,” and here are three previous kidnap-over-ransom cases that took place in Singapore since the early 2000s (thankfully, all three were successfully solved by police!)
- 10 August, 2001: Businessman Tay Teng Joo was abducted on the eve of his wedding
The kidnappers — site manager Chng Teo Heng, business woman Agnes Ng Lei Eng and freelance painter Ng Soon Teck — ambushed the 33-year-old Tay outside his Bukit Timah bungalow, before blindfolding and bundling him into his black Mercedes-Benz 320 CLK.
For six gruelling hours, the trio held him hostage and demanded a ransom of S$1.22 million, which his family paid that same day.
Fortunately, the police nabbed the kidnappers within 24 hours and recovered all but S$903 of the ransom amount.
The kidnappers were each sentenced to life imprisonment, with Chng receiving an additional six strokes of the cane for using a knife in the abduction.
- 25 December, 2003: A seven-year-old girl was abducted from her home off Yio Chu Kang Road
After being put into a waiting vehicle, her captors – transport manager Tan Ping Koon, 35, and cleaning company owner Chua Ser Lian, 42 – drove off towards Punggol.
Luckily, a catering assistant who was preparing for a Christmas party at the victim’s residence heard the commotion and took down the details of the getaway vehicle. She proceeded to alert her husband, who spotted the vehicle and gave chase.
According to the Straits Times, the kidnappers dumped the girl off Tampines Street 72, just half an hour after she was kidnapped.
In a brazen twist, the duo still demanded S$1 million in ransom from the girl’s father for the family’s future safety. Tan and Chua were later caught and sentenced to life imprisonment and three strokes of the cane each for the offence.
- 7, August 2003: MediaCorp TV journalist Nina Elizabeth Varghese was held by a jobless man
Unemployed Selvaraju Satippan, 45, held the TV journalist in her Braddell Road home for ransom.
In the three-and-a-half-hours that he detained Varghese and her maid, Selvaraju had tied her hands with electrical wire, set fire to the clothes in her wardrobe, hurt her with a kitchen knife, and attempted to kill her.
Fortunately, the 22-year-old journalist managed to break free and escape through a bathroom window.
For his crime, Selvaraju was sentenced to life imprisonment and given 24 strokes of the cane.
Image source: Today Online