Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Sheng Siong Kidnapping

Singapore was a hotbed of abductions in the 1950s and 1960s
Kidnappings were rampant in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s, with rich towkays being the main targets

Many of the kidnappers were part of secret society gangs, and violent - they confronted the police with guns and grenades.

To put a stop to these threats, the Government amended kidnapping laws and raised the maximum penalty from 10 years to death or life imprisonment.

By the 1970s, the number of kidnaps dropped significantly. These were the five most famous kidnapping cases of the past:
  1. Kidnapping and murder of biscuit king Lee Gee Chong
  2. Kidnapping of Tangs' founder Tang Choon Keng
  3. Kidnapping and murder of shipping tycoon Tay Kie Thay
  4. Kidnapping of movie tycoon Shaw Vee Ming
  5. Kidnapping of rubber magnate Ng Quee Lam

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Kidnapping cases in Singapore
Nina Elizabeth Varghese, Ng Lai Poh , CK Tang

On January 8, 79-year-old Madam Ng Lai Poh, mother of Sheng Siong CEO Lim Hock Chee, was abducted near Block 631 Hougang Avenue 8, the first kidnap case in Singapore in 10 years.

Mdm Ng was released in the early hours of January 9 after a S$2 million ransom was handed over and the kidnappers nabbed an hour later.

Kidnappings are a rare occurrence in Singapore, with only three cases of kidnapping with ransom over the last 13 years. All cases were solved by the police and the kidnappers jailed for life.

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Three previous cases of kidnapping for ransom over 13 years

Jobless Selvaraju Satippan held MediaCorp TV journalist Nina Elizabeth Varghese (above) to ransom in her Braddell Road home, tying her hands with electrical wire, on Aug 7, 2003. -- ST FILE PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

There have been three previous cases of kidnapping for a ransom in Singapore over the last 13 years. All three were successfully solved by police.
  • On Christmas Day 2003, a seven-year-old girl was taken from her home off Yio Chu Kang Road by a man at about 4.30pm.
  • On Aug 7, 2003, jobless Selvaraju Satippan held MediaCorp TV journalist Nina Elizabeth Varghese to ransom in her Braddell Road home, tying her hands with electrical wire.
  • On August 10, 2001, a day before his wedding, 33-year-old businessman Tay Teng Joo was ambushed outside his Bukit Timah bungalow, blindfolded and bundled into his black Mercedes-Benz 320 CLK.


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Kidnappings common in the past: Stories from the archives

In Singapore, kidnap hoaxes are far more common today than actual abductions. Con men try to extort ransoms for family members who are temporarily out of touch. -- ST ILLUSTRATION: ERIC ROCA

Kidnappings are a rare occurence in Singapore. In the past decade, there were just three substantiated cases of kidnappings for ransoms. In the preceding 10 years, there was only one known case.

In the 1950s and 1960s, though, kidnapping was an all too real nightmare for Singapore’s rich and famous. Hardly a month passed without news of an abduction.

Kidnappers were armed to the teeth with guns and grenades and backed by triads and secret societies.

Sheng Siong founder says he was target of kidnappers because of his "high profile"
Two men arrested for kidnapping a 79-year-old woman

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Sheng Siong chief's mum kidnapped and freed; two arrested

BARELY 48 hours after an audacious kidnapping of the elderly mother of Sheng Siong's chief executive, two men - believed to be lovers - were produced in court yesterday and charged under the Kidnapping Act.

Lee Sze Yong, 41, is accused of abducting Madam Ng Lye Poh, 79, between 10.30am and 1.02pm on Wednesday along Hougang Avenue 2, with the intent to hold her for ransom.

His accomplice, Heng Chen Boon, 50, is said to have helped him confine her in a vehicle near Sembawang Park between 8.30pm and midnight that day.

Full Coverage

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Sheng Siong kidnapping: From pig farmer to supermarket tycoon; from the archives

The first Sheng Siong outlet was founded by Mr Lim and his two brothers as a mini-supermarket in Ang Mo Kio back in 1985. Today, the chain has 33 supermarkets.

In October last year, the chain reported that revenue grew 4.8 per cent year-on-year to $177.8 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2013, up from $169.7 million in 2012.

Mr Lim's brothers, Mr Lim Hock Eng and Mr Lim Hock Leng, continue to serve on Sheng Siong's board, as executive chairman and managing director respectively

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