Mon, Jan 22, 2007 - Page 5 News List

The suspected murderer who shocked Singapore

AFP , SINGAPORE

In quiet, safe Singapore, people are not supposed to die like Lim Hock Soon.

The nightclub owner was gunned down at his apartment in a case that seemed to belong somewhere else -- perhaps in edgy Hong Kong and its world of triad gangsters -- not in one of Asia's cleanest and most crime-free cities, where the sound of a police siren is rarely heard.

Killing

Police say there had not been a killing like it for about six years in this city-state of more than four million people.

Today, a man nicknamed "One Eyed Dragon" goes on trial for the death of Lim, 41, on Feb. 15, last year.

Tan Chor Jin, 39, is charged under the Arms Offences Act with firing six rounds and "causing injury" to Lim, according to court records. Tan faces death by hanging if convicted at the High Court trial, which is scheduled to last 10 days.

Local press reports at the time said the killing happened about 7am that Wednesday after the gunman, dressed in black, walked in to Lim's second-floor apartment.

He tied up Lim and his Malaysian wife, Kok Pooi Leng, along with their 13-year-old daughter and a maid. Then he shot Lim dead with a pistol in the study, and ran off, newspapers reported. Lim had wounds to the head and limbs, they said.

Tan was arrested about 10 days later at a five-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Along with Tan, two other men and three women were arrested by police who seized six guns, 203 bullets, and 4kg of the drug ketamine, newspapers reported.

Tan is dubbed "One Eyed Dragon" because he was blinded in the right eye during a traffic accident, one report said.

Singapore's the New Paper said Tan was "believed to be a member of the Ang Soon Tong triad," but Singapore police say traditional Hong Kong-style triad groups no longer exist in the city-state.

Tan could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for the prison service said it does not grant requests for interviews with prisoners.

The victim, Lim, lived in an ordinary public housing estate like most Singaporeans but his work brought him into a different circle.

The Las Vegas nightclub, in which newspapers said he was a partner, shouts its presence with a giant neon sign in a sedate district of highrise hotels.

In a November 2003 interview with the New Paper, two months after the plush Las Vegas club opened, Lim said that to book any of the karaoke club's 31 VIP rooms, clients had to spend at least SG$3,000 (US$1,952) a night just on liquor.

Dispute

The Straits Times cited sources in the nightclub business as saying the tattooed Lim was involved in illegal betting and his death involved a dispute over money.

Police have declined to discuss the case while it is before the courts.

Lim's family still lives in the home where he died, said a woman who runs a small shop in the complex of apartment blocks.

Behind a black metal security gate, the white door of Lim's apartment opened a crack when reporters knocked. A petite girl stood in a room lit dimly from an open side window.

She asked who was there, then quickly closed the door again when she learned that reporters had come.

On either side of the door, red stickers carried Chinese wishes for peace, and protection.

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