Elderly Kovan murder victim found next to beloved electronic organ
Daughter says she was 'very heartbroken' to see father's body beside his beloved electronic organ
When his only daughter was growing up, motor workshop owner Tan Boon Sin bought an electronic organ so she could learn to play the instrument.
At the same time, he also taught himself to play the instrument, playing by ear while trying to replicate his favourite Chinese classics.
It brought him hours of pleasure.
Sadly, his body was found beside the organ that he loved after he was murdered by policeman Iskandar Rahmat in his Kovan home on July 10, 2013.
Iskandar, who was on the verge of bankruptcy, hatched an elaborate plot to rob and kill Mr Tan by pretending that someone was going to break into Mr Tan's Certis Cisco safe-deposit box.
Mr Tan's daughter, Ms Tan Siew Ling, now 42, said yesterday: "On the day that I knew my dad was lying just beside (the organ), it struck me very hard. I was very heartbroken because those were two things that I loved."
She said her father had picked up playing the organ by himself and was "really good".
"He would fine-tune his songs, put the tempo in... He didn't read English so he would remember which buttons (did what)."
Mr Tan played a mix of old Chinese and Hokkien music, his own compositions and even improvisations, his daughter recalled.
Memories are all that is left for the Tans, a close-knit family whose lives were brutally ripped apart by the desperate Iskandar.
Two years on, they are still struggling to pick up the pieces.
Ms Tan and her younger brother, Mr Tan Chee Wee, 41, spoke to the media yesterday at a press conference held on the porch of 14J, Hillside Drive, where Mr Tan, 67, and his elder son, Mr Tan Chee Heong, 42, were killed.
It was the first time the family has spoken publicly since last Friday when Iskandar was convicted of the murders, a verdict which Mr Tan Chee Wee said was "expected".
The restaurant owner, who is married with children, added: "But it doesn't take away our pain. A happy family being broken up in split seconds."
He wakes up every day hoping that what happened was a bad dream.
Family gatherings are no longer the same, especially Chinese New Year, when everyone gathers.
Ms Tan, who is also married with a daughter, said: "It is a time when people have reunions and gather together. We try to do the same, but it is obvious that people are missing, it is just not the same."
Asked if the date of the murders, July 10, has become difficult for the family, she shook her head.
"It is just like any other day because every day is difficult for us. It is a struggle to deal with what happened," she said.
While Mr Tan's widow, Madam Ong Ah Tang, 66, still lives in the Hillside Drive house, she struggles to pick up the pieces.
"Sometimes we call her and if she doesn't pick up, we get worried about her," Mr Tan Chee Wee said, calling her a strong woman, who has been trying to get used to living on her own.
Furthermore, his late brother, who worked at nearby Lorong Chuan, used to visit his parents frequently, buying lunch for them or just quickly checking on them.
Ms Tan added: "It is the small things like marketing and meals that she is learning to do by herself because previously my dad was here to help her."
Asked if the house would be sold, the siblings said no. It is home, and it is where they had many happy memories growing up together, Ms Tan said.
As for the fishing equipment from Mr Tan's hobby, many items have been given away to his fishing buddies, she said.
The organ loved by father and daughter has been disposed of because it was damaged after the murders.
When the blood in the living room was being cleaned, water got into the organ and caused a short circuit, Mr Tan Chee Wee said.
"We tried to salvage it even though the wooden legs were spoilt, but it couldn't even be turned on. It was sad, but we just had to get rid of it," he added.
It is a time when people have reunions and gather together. We try to do the same, but it is obvious that people are missing, it is just not the same.
- Ms Tan Siew Ling, daughter of Mr Tan Boon Sin, on Chinese New Year
'Ah Seng' was a good boss
Mr Chai Siew Fong. - TNP PHOTO: DALENE LOW
The late Mr Tan Boon Sin was an exemplary employer, said mechanic Chai Siew Fong, who is better known as Ah Siong.
The 56-year-old had worked for Mr Tan at Soc Leon Motor, a car workshop, since its early days as a small operation in Haig Road.
Mr Chai, who is from Malaysia, got emotional at times as he spoke about how Mr Tan, whom he worked with for over three decades, had helped him over the years.
About 30 years ago, just a month after Mr Chai's son was born, his wife was involved in a serious accident in Malaysia that left her badly hurt.
He wanted to quit his job to take care of her, but Mr Tan would have none of it.
Instead, he told Mr Chai to focus on caring for his wife while he continued paying his full salary.
"I felt bad taking his money and not working. So after six months, I got my mother-in-law to help take care of my wife, and I came back to work," he told reporters in Mandarin.
Mr Tan also did not put on airs and had insisted that all his staff call him "Ah Seng", said Mr Chai.
Now that Mr Tan's daughter, Siew Ling, has taken over the business, Mr Chai said they intend to keep Soc Leon going as a living memory of Mr Tan.
Even the day after Mr Tan's murder, Mr Chai kept the workshop open.
Back then, he tearfully told The New Paper that it was business as usual at Soc Leon because it was what Mr Tan would have wanted.
"I would want to keep doing this as long as I can until I really cannot work, then I will stop," he said yesterday.
Family even got bouquet from Philippines
The Tan family took the opportunity to thank strangers for their kindness in the days following the murders.
Mr Tan Chee Wee said the first bouquets started showing up outside 14J, Hillside Drive, just three days after the July 10, 2013, murders.
People started sending the family flowers to express their condolences, with one bouquet coming from as far as the Philippines, said Mr Tan, adding that these well-wishers were strangers.
About three to four weeks after the murders, Mr Tan was at a petrol kiosk when a police officer went up to him to express his condolences.
Mr Tan's sister also spoke of meeting a churchgoer who said she had been praying for the family and that she even attended several hearings during the trial.
The siblings also thanked the Criminal Investigation Department and prosecutors.
ABOUT THE CASE
On July 10, 2013, the body of Mr Tan Chee Heong, 42, was found with stab wounds at a taxi stand outside Kovan MRT station.
The body had been dislodged after being dragged nearly 1km by his father's car.
The car had been driven by policeman Iskandar Rahmat, 36, who was facing disciplinary proceedings over his $50,000 debt.
The body of Mr Tan's father, Mr Tan Boon Sin, 67, was found in his home at 14J, Hillside Drive.
Last Friday, Iskandar was found guilty of the double murders of the father and son under Section 300(a) of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty.
He will be appealing against the sentence.