Kovan murder victim was a good and caring boss

Left: Mechanic Chai Siew Fong (centre) reveals how his boss Tan Boon Sin paid him his salary for six months when he was caring for his wife. With him are Mr Tan's younger son, Chee Wee, and another of Mr Tan's employees, Ms Tan Hwee Eng. Above: Also
Above: Mechanic Chai Siew Fong (centre) reveals how his boss Tan Boon Sin paid him his salary for six months when he was caring for his wife. With him are Mr Tan's younger son, Chee Wee, and another of Mr Tan's employees, Ms Tan Hwee Eng. PHOTOS: YEO KAI WEN, LIANHE WANBAO, THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTOS
Left: Mechanic Chai Siew Fong (centre) reveals how his boss Tan Boon Sin paid him his salary for six months when he was caring for his wife. With him are Mr Tan's younger son, Chee Wee, and another of Mr Tan's employees, Ms Tan Hwee Eng. Above: Also
Above: Also at the press conference were Chee Wee's uncle, Mr Ong Boon Kok, and Chee Wee's sister, Siew Ling. PHOTOS: YEO KAI WEN, LIANHE WANBAO, THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTOS
Left: Mechanic Chai Siew Fong (centre) reveals how his boss Tan Boon Sin paid him his salary for six months when he was caring for his wife. With him are Mr Tan's younger son, Chee Wee, and another of Mr Tan's employees, Ms Tan Hwee Eng. Above: Also
Murder victims Mr Tan (above) and his elder son Chee Heong.PHOTOS: YEO KAI WEN, LIANHE WANBAO, THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTOS
Left: Mechanic Chai Siew Fong (centre) reveals how his boss Tan Boon Sin paid him his salary for six months when he was caring for his wife. With him are Mr Tan's younger son, Chee Wee, and another of Mr Tan's employees, Ms Tan Hwee Eng. Above: Also
Murder victims Mr Tan and his elder son Chee Heong (above).PHOTOS: YEO KAI WEN, LIANHE WANBAO, THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTOS

Family members talk about the life of Tan Boon Sin, who was killed along with his son

Car workshop owner Tan Boon Sin was such a good boss he continued to pay an employee's full salary for half a year when the mechanic went back to Malaysia to take care of his ailing wife.

This glimpse into the life of Mr Tan, 67, one of the two victims of the Kovan double murders, emerged yesterday when his family held a press conference at the porch of the Hillside Drive house where the killings took place.

It was the first time that the family has opened up since policeman Iskandar Rahmat, 36, was sentenced to death last Friday for the murders of Mr Tan and his son Chee Heong, 42, on July 10 in 2013.

Iskandar, who needed to stave off bankruptcy, hatched a plan to trick Mr Tan into taking his money out from his safe deposit box at Certis Cisco in Paya Lebar and then steal it from him at his home.

The High Court found Iskandar had intended to kill Mr Tan as part of his plan and when Chee Heong went into his father's house, Iskan- dar decided to silence him too.

STILL FEELING THE PAIN

We are not surprised at the verdict but it doesn't heal our pain. A happy family was broken in seconds. Life has changed for us totally.

RESTAURANT OWNER TAN CHEE WEE, 41, younger son of Mr Tan Boon Sin

Mr Tan's younger son Chee Wee, 41, a restaurant owner, said: "We are not surprised at the verdict but it doesn't heal our pain. A happy family was broken in seconds. Life has changed for us totally."

Even after two years, it was difficult for him to accept that his father and brother, "who have completely done nothing wrong", left without a chance to say their last words.

He added that he still wakes up every day hoping that everything that happened was a bad dream.

Chee Wee and his sister, Siew Ling, 42, were in court almost every day of the trial after it started on Oct 20.

Siew Ling said that it was only during the trial that they learnt of the extent of the multiple knife injuries suffered by her father and brother.

Chee Wee described his mother, Madam Ong Ah Tang, 67, as being "courageous" in taking the stand on the first day of the trial, with the accused sitting a few metres away.

Siew Ling said that testifying in court was "out of the boundaries" for her mother, a simple housewife who devotes her life to her children and family. "We told her, 'don't look to the right, look at the judge. If you happen to see (Iskandar), it's okay'."

As for how Madam Ong is coping with the two deaths, Siew Ling said: "Sometimes, she tries to keep to herself, the feeling; she doesn't really want to tell us. We try not to dig too much. It's just rubbing it in again."

Other than occasional nights staying over with her two children, Madam Ong lives alone in the house. "It's a very comfortable place, we grew up here," said Siew Ling, adding that her mother is used to the place and it would not be easy for her in a new environment.

Siew Ling, an engineer, has taken over the running of her father's business for the past two years.

Yesterday, mechanic Chai Siew Fong, 56, who worked for Mr Tan for more than 30 years, said he will work in the shop for as long as he can as he was touched by his former boss' caring side. "Even when I didn't work, he paid my salary."

The family also commended the police and prosecutors, as well as witnesses who came forward.

People from all walks of life have shown support, they said.

Chee Wee recalled that they received flowers from a stranger in the Philippines. Siew Ling told of a churchgoer she did not know who prayed for the family and attended court hearings.

The close-knit family are trying to move on with their lives.

"We try to be like normal," said Siew Ling. "But the feeling is different, you see missing figures... The children will look at the adults' expressions to see what is suitable to say. They react in a different way. They are forced to grow up. We cannot live the same life that we had before, we can never reboot."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'Kovan murder victim was a good and caring boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe