Sheng Siong kidnapping: Singapore was a hotbed of abductions in the 1950s and 1960s

Shipping tycoon Tay Kie Thay was kidnapped outside his bungalow in Katong in May 1961. His family paid the $130,000 ransom but he was not released. A few months later, it was discovered that the one of the kidnappers had shot him and b
Shipping tycoon Tay Kie Thay was kidnapped outside his bungalow in Katong in May 1961. His family paid the $130,000 ransom but he was not released. A few months later, it was discovered that the one of the kidnappers had shot him and buried him in a vacant plot of land in Tampines. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Mr Lee Gee Chong, chairman of the Thye Hong biscuit factory, was abducted in April 1960 near his home in Garlick Avenue off Holland Road. His body was found wrapped in a blanket in a graveyard off Yio Chu Kang Road five days after he w
Mr Lee Gee Chong, chairman of the Thye Hong biscuit factory, was abducted in April 1960 near his home in Garlick Avenue off Holland Road. His body was found wrapped in a blanket in a graveyard off Yio Chu Kang Road five days after he was abducted. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Mr Lee Gee Chong, chairman of the Thye Hong biscuit factory, was abducted in April 1960 near his home in Garlick Avenue off Holland Road. His body was found wrapped in a blanket in a graveyard off Yio Chu Kang Road five days after he w
Mr Lee Gee Chong, chairman of the Thye Hong biscuit factory, was abducted in April 1960 near his home in Garlick Avenue off Holland Road. His body was found wrapped in a blanket in a graveyard off Yio Chu Kang Road five days after he was abducted. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
The Singapore police began a crackdown on kidnap gangs in July 1960. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
The Singapore police began a crackdown on kidnap gangs in July 1960. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Rubber magnate Ng Quee Lam was dragged from his limousine when he arrived to pick up a friend for dinner at Kee Choe Avenue in Sennett Estate in November 1964. Mr Ng was freed after a fortnight when his family paid the $400,000 ransom.&nbsp
Rubber magnate Ng Quee Lam was dragged from his limousine when he arrived to pick up a friend for dinner at Kee Choe Avenue in Sennett Estate in November 1964. Mr Ng was freed after a fortnight when his family paid the $400,000 ransom. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Rubber magnate Ng Quee Lam was dragged from his limousine when he arrived to pick up a friend for dinner at Kee Choe Avenue in Sennett Estate in November 1964. Mr Ng was freed after a fortnight when his family paid the $400,000 ransom.&nbsp
Rubber magnate Ng Quee Lam was dragged from his limousine when he arrived to pick up a friend for dinner at Kee Choe Avenue in Sennett Estate in November 1964. Mr Ng was freed after a fortnight when his family paid the $400,000 ransom. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Rubber magnate Ng Quee Lam was dragged from his limousine when he arrived to pick up a friend for dinner at Kee Choe Avenue in Sennett Estate in November 1964. Mr Ng was freed after a fortnight when his family paid the $400,000 ransom.&nbsp
Rubber magnate Ng Quee Lam was dragged from his limousine when he arrived to pick up a friend for dinner at Kee Choe Avenue in Sennett Estate in November 1964. Mr Ng was freed after a fortnight when his family paid the $400,000 ransom. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Loh Ngut Fong, who was one of the kidnappers of Tang's founder Tang Choon Keng in 1960, was behind several other famous kidnappings. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Loh Ngut Fong, who was one of the kidnappers of Tang's founder Tang Choon Keng in 1960, was behind several other famous kidnappings. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Mr Shaw Vee Ming, movie mogul Run Run Shaw's son, and his driver were kidnapped in 1964. They were released after the family paid a $250,000 ransom. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Mr Shaw Vee Ming, movie mogul Run Run Shaw's son, and his driver were kidnapped in 1964. They were released after the family paid a $250,000 ransom. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Mr Tang Choon Keng, Tangs' founder and better known as Mr C.K. Tang, was kidnapped in 1960. He was released four days later after a $150,000 ransom was paid. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES
Mr Tang Choon Keng, Tangs' founder and better known as Mr C.K. Tang, was kidnapped in 1960. He was released four days later after a $150,000 ransom was paid. -- PHOTO: FACSIMILE OF THE STRAITS TIMES

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

Mr Lee, chairman of the Thye Hong biscuit factory, was abducted in April 1960 near his home in Garlick Avenue off Holland Road. He was the son of Mr Lee Choon Seng, the vice-chairman of the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation. The younger Mr Lee's body was found wrapped in a blanket in a graveyard off Yio Chu Kang Road five days after he was abducted. He had died of head injuries. It was not reported if any ransom was paid.

2. Kidnapping of Tangs' founder Tang Choon Keng

Better known as C.K. Tang, the founder of the Orchard Road department store was kidnapped in July 1960 outside his bungalow in St Thomas Walk, off River Valley Road. He was abducted at 7.15am in full view of children heading to the nearby Sam Kiang Public School. The 60-year-old was released four days later after a $150,000 ransom was paid. One of his kidnappers, Loh Ngut Fong, was behind several other famous kidnappings.

3. Kidnapping and murder of shipping tycoon Tay Kie Thay

The 48-year-old shipping tycoon was kidnapped outside his bungalow in Katong in May 1961. Gunmen threw pepper into his driver's eyes and forced him out of the car. The kidnappers drove Mr Tay in his car to Broadrick Road where he was transferred to another car. That was the last anyone saw of him. His family paid the $130,000 ransom but he was not released. A few months later, it was discovered that the one of the kidnappers had shot him and buried him in a vacant plot of land in Tampines.

4. Kidnapping of movie tycoon Shaw Vee Ming

In February 1964, the eldest son of movie mogul Run Run Shaw was kidnapped at gunpoint in Andrew Road when he was on his way to work. The four-men gang also abducted his driver. Twelve days later, both men were released after the Shaw family paid the $250,000 ransom.

5. Kidnapping of rubber magnate Ng Quee Lam

The 44-year-old was dragged from his limousine when he arrived to pick up a friend for dinner at Kee Choe Avenue in Sennett Estate. Several shots were fired during the kidnapping in November 1964. Mr Ng was freed after a fortnight when his family paid the $400,000 ransom.


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