A FATHER and son detained for 23 days over the death of an alleged robber were freed on bail yesterday after the charge was amended to death by negligence.
Malaysian Moo He Hong, 57, a part-time cook, and his 29-year- old son Wee Keong, a Singaporean, were originally charged with murder, which carries the death penalty and is not a bailable offence. Their bail yesterday was set at RM8,500 (S$3,200) each.
"I feel very relieved that a miracle happened with a lot of help from you all (media). We really appreciate that," said the son.
Protesting their innocence, he said he and his father were only trying to disarm the alleged robber, Chan Boon Poh.
"All my father and I wanted was to snatch the knife away. We do admit that we beat (him), but it's a robbery," he said.
The family was visiting relatives in Negeri Sembilan during the Chinese New Year period when things turned nightmarish.
Madam Kuek Soo Lan, his 52-year-old mother, was outside their house in Gemencheh, Tampin, at around 12.30am when a man armed with a parang tried to snatch her bag.
She was slashed on her left arm and fingers, which required 25 stitches.
Her husband and son, who were in the car, rushed to her aid, and they managed to pin Chan down.
While earlier media reports said Chan had been tied up, Moo Wee Keong said yesterday that he and his father were not the ones who did it.
His father then drove Madam Kuek to a nearby clinic to seek treatment without waiting for the police to arrive.
They returned to the house about 15 minutes later to find that Chan had died. Police later said he had died of "chest injuries probably caused by multiple blows to the area".
Madam Kuek, who has maintained that her husband and son were acting in self-defence, hired criminal lawyer Gobind Singh Deo to represent them.
She told The Straits Times they would all return to Singapore tomorrow after the two men got back their passports.
"All our family and friends in Singapore will be very excited to see them again after so long."
The case will be heard on April 30 at the Gemas court nearby.
The two men could face up to two years' jail and a possible fine under the amended charge.