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'Son, you can go peacefully now'

REUNITED BY TRAGEDY: Mr Tan and his wife, Madam Teo, at their son's wake. Mr Tan had not seen the deceased, Poh Ying, for 32 years since he threw him from a height of eight storeys in 1982. The 43-year-old son died on Thursday from spine and kidney complications.


    Mar 03, 2014

    'Son, you can go peacefully now'

    THE man looked down at the coffin which held his son's body and laid an arm on the glass cover.

    Speaking quietly in Hokkien, he told his son: "You can go peacefully now. I'm well taken care of. Don't worry about me."

    What made it more poignant was the fact that Mr Tan Cheng Chuan, 68, had not seen his son for 32 years.

    And, more tragically, he was the one who had thrown the intellectually disabled Poh Ying from a height of eight storeys in 1982.

    The child, who was then 11 but could not speak, was thrown out of the family's kitchen window and hit a tree on the way down.

    He was paralysed from the waist down as a result.

    He died on Thursday, at the age of 43, from complications of the spine and kidneys.

    The elder Mr Tan, who suffers from schizophrenia, was charged with attempted murder, but was acquitted and ordered to be placed in a mental institution, where he has been living since.

    Yesterday, after getting permission from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), the father, looking frail, set eyes on his son for the first time since the chilling incident.

    He arrived in a cab, accompanied by a nurse, and immediately made his way to where his son lay. Pain was etched on his face during the few minutes he stood quietly beside his son's coffin.

    He was joined by his wife, Madam Teo Kiu Wah, 65, and his younger son, Poh Kim, 40, making it a reunion of sorts for a family torn apart three decades ago.

    After the incident, Poh Ying was sent to live in welfare homes. Poh Kim completed only his Primary 6 education and today works as an odd-job labourer, earning $30 a day.

    It was clear that the reunion was emotionally charged. Madam Teo's swollen eyes suggested that she had been crying constantly.

    She had also yet to return home for a rest, said her younger son.

    After a while, the old man shuffled away, to be taken back to IMH by taxi.