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The Straits Times
May 22, 2023
More than 20 years after she left her abusive partner, Madam Lim Soi Moy let him move in with her in 2004 because he did not want to live alone.
In 2019, Pak Kian Huat, then 82 and the father of her four children, became aggrieved when Madam Lim, 79, refused to let him move to a bigger room in her four-room Toa Payoh flat.
In the early hours of Sept 1, 2019, Pak took a chopper from the kitchen and hacked her to death.
When the police arrived, he told the officers he was glad he was able to kill her. He had inflicted 54 wounds on her body, 31 of which were on her head and neck.
On Monday, Pak, now 86, was sentenced to 15 years’ jail after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide in the High Court.
Justice See Kee Oon said the intensity of Pak’s brutal and vicious attack on Madam Lim could be seen by the horrifying number of injuries on the victim.
“It was a senseless attack on a defenceless victim,” said the judge, adding that Pak’s anger had festered over a fairly trivial perceived grievance.
Justice See noted that Pak stopped attacking the victim only when she was no longer talking. “There was no hint of remorse or compunction even after the police arrived at the scene,” he said.
“He set out to kill the victim because of his self-induced and wholly misplaced perception of grievance,” said Justice See.
The judge added that being of advanced age was not a mitigating factor when the offence was heinous and could have involved life imprisonment.
Pak was originally slated to plead guilty in September 2022. During the eventful hearing, his previous lawyer discharged himself while Pak disputed many facts and repeatedly interrupted proceedings.
Pak and Madam Lim met in the 1950s when they were in their teens. He was a shipyard worker and she was a housekeeper. They never married but lived together and had four children, who are now in their 50s.
The couple’s relationship deteriorated over the years, partly because Pak was bad-tempered and abusive towards his partner and, at times, their children.
In 1980, Madam Lim moved out with her elder daughter, while her younger daughter and two sons mostly continued living with their father.
The couple reconnected in 2004. After all the children moved out of his flat, Pak asked Madam Lim to let him move in with her as he did not want to live alone.
She obliged. Pak rented out his flat and gave her about $400 to $500 a month.
Madam Lim’s flat had two bedrooms that were larger than the third. She occupied one of the larger rooms, while the other was reserved for their elder daughter and elder son when they returned to Singapore from abroad.
Pak had the smallest room, but occasionally slept in the unoccupied larger room when the children were not in town.
On Aug 26, 2019, Pak told his younger son he had a bad cough and that his condition was caused by the dust in his room. He complained that Madam Lim refused to let him move into the unoccupied room.
After discussions with their children, Madam Lim agreed to let Pak stay in the larger room as long as he moved back to the smallest room before Sept 1, 2019, when their elder son was expected to return.
On the night before their son’s return, Pak asked Madam Lim if he could continue staying in the larger room, but she rejected his request and told him to go to bed.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok told the court that Pak was furious as he felt that having to move back to the smallest bedroom would worsen his condition.
“He grew angrier as the night wore on,” DPP Kok added.
At about 3.30am, Pak took a chopper from the kitchen – “because he thought that the other knives... were small” – and went into Madam Lim’s room.
DPP Kok said Pak told her in Hokkien: “Li ai wa si, wa buay sai hor li wa”, which means if she wanted him to die, he would not allow her to live.
He pressed her down on her bed and swung the chopper at her head and neck.
Even after she fell on the floor, he continued hacking Madam Lim while standing over her.
Pak then called his children to tell them what he had done. His younger son called the police.
When the police arrived, Pak told the officers he suspected some of their children were not fathered by him and that Madam Lim wanted him dead.
The prosecution sought 15 to 18 years’ jail for Pak’s blatant disregard for human life, noting that he had ended the life of a partner with whom he had lived for a large part of his life.
Said DPP Kok: “Despite the accused’s age, his heinous crime must be met with severe punishment, even if he must live out his remaining years in prison.”
Defence counsel Eugene Thuraisingam said Pak felt rejected and hurt when he was not allowed to use the larger room, even though the smaller room was aggravating his cough.
Mr Thuraisingam said Pak grew emotional and angry because he did not know how to resolve this issue.