Father of convicted killer Took Leng How on being abused by people he approaches to help save his son from the gallows...
Sign the Petition HERE.
By Dawn Chia
15 February 2006
FOR about three hours, he put up with harsh words and anger.
It's a price that Mr Took Long Lai, the father of convicted murderer Took Leng How, is willing to pay.
He's pinning his hopes of saving his som from the gallows on public support for his clemency petition to the President.
Took was sentenced to death last August for killing Huang Na, 8, in October 2004. (See report on facing page.)
Tired and weary, his father stood at the entrance of Admiralty MRT station, pleading with anyone who would listen:
'Please, my son Ah Hao is innocent. Will you please help us by signing this petition if you think that he is innocent?
'If not, then thank you very much for your time.'
More often than not, the reply was no.
Many shunned his soft pleas and cast disdainful looks in his direction.
Some went further. They hurled abuse at Mr Took, who was accompanied by his wife, daughter-in-law Yuli and grandson Shun Wang, yesterday afternoon.
Mr Took told The New Paper in Mandarin: 'Out of 10 people, six will scold us.
'They tell us off very rudely to stop what we're doing and a few even said we should go and die with him since he is guilty.
'It is very hurtful, but we have to put up with it. We can only cry inside.'
The 53-year-old coffee-shop owner from Penang did not want to say what other verbal abuse he got from passers-by. All he would say was that he was grateful to those who signed the petition.
He said: 'We cannot and will not scold those who hurl abuse at us. We can't force people to sign.
'All we can do is ask for the public's help and beg those who think that Ah Hao is innocent to put their names on our forms.
The family had come up with the idea together.
Mr Took declined to say how many signatures had been collected as the final tally is not in yet.
He will be in Singapore till Friday with his daughter-in-law and grandson. His wife left last night.
He is likely to continue gathering signatures until he returns to Penang.
He and his family took turns to hold out stacks of forms to the crowd.
FEW FRIENDLY FACES
When the rush-hour crowd started to pour out of the MRT station, the family perked up and looked for friendly faces whom they could approach.
All they saw were tired faces of commuters rushing home from work or school.
Not many stopped to listen to them or even cast a glance in their direction.
Those who paused to hear what Mr Took had to say quickly shook their heads and walked away.
A few were sympathetic.
They signed the forms and received grateful smiles from the family, together with warm handshakes and words of thanks.
A woman even bought the family some biscuits, which they accepted after much coaxing.
The tightly-knit family have not wavered in their belief that Took is innocent.
Whenever his family visited him in prison, Took had maintained that he did not kill Huang Na.
His adamant stance drove the family to hit the streets in what Mr Took terms 'our last desperate attempt to help our son'.
'Right now, we have nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to but the President for help.
[Madam Yuli and her son Shun Wang at Admiralty MRT station asking the public's support for the petition father, Mr Took Long Lai, kept requesting the people to sign in his soft voice despite being abused by many.]
'Our only hope is for Singaporeans to help us.'
Mr Took declined to say how much printing the petitions cost him - 'that's not important... what's important is my son's life'.
Sign the Petition HERE.
The petition is also being circulated in Malaysia to gather more signatures to back their plea.
It is an arduous task, but Mr Took and his family had not one word of complaint.
As they looked for support, each took turns to care of 2 1/2-year-old Shun Wang, who pranced about, oblivious to his father's fate.
The lively toddler, who speaks a mixture of Mandarin and Hokkien, was able to tell us: 'Papa is in Singapore. His name is Ah Hao.
Took's great-aunt, who lives in Singapore, said Shun Wang had been asking when his father would return home.
The family arrived in Singapore at around 7am yesterday and are staying with relatives.
After a quick breakfast, Took's mother, wife and son and great-aunt spent about an hour at Changi Prison with him.
The meeting was emotional. Took's mother, who broke down after the visit, had bought a new beige Polo T-shirt with blue stripes for him.
It is her hope that he would have a chance to wear it one day. But Took himself appears to have lost hope.
His mother said: 'When we told him that we're trying to appeal for the President's clemency, he told us that it was a futile attempt.
'He seems to have fallen into despair.'
Mr Took, who visited his son without fail whenever he's in Singapore, decided to stay away yesterday.
He said: 'My heart breaks every time I see him.
'I was the one who persuaded him to give himself up when he was on the run because he has a young son and should not spend the rest of his life in hiding.
'He listened to me and now that he's sentenced to death, I regret asking him to do so.
Sign the Petition HERE.
HUANG NA MURDER
MALAYSIAN vegetable-packer Took Leng How, 24, was found guilty last August of murdering Huang Na, 8, in a storeroom at the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre.
Huang Na went missing on 10 Oct 2004, while her mother was away in China.
Her disappearance sparked a search that eventually spread across the Causeway, when Took, who had been assisting the police, fled the country.
He eventually gave himself up to the Malaysian police on 30 Oct.
The next morning, back in Singapore, he led officers to Huang Na's body.
Took appealed against the conviction and death sentence, but it was overturned last month by the Court of Appeal.
His only chance now is for the President to grant him clemency.