Father of former S-League player who died in Thailand flying to Bangkok to seek answers

Mr Sivaneswaran Ramalingam (fourth from left) and his girlfriend Sarah Gieghase in happier days, with his friends (clockwise from left) Richard Lumi, Warren John, Isaac Chew, Darius Ow, Darrel Tan and Israel Tan. Mr Siva, who died in Bangkok on Satur
Mr Sivaneswaran Ramalingam (fourth from left) and his girlfriend Sarah Gieghase in happier days, with his friends (clockwise from left) Richard Lumi, Warren John, Isaac Chew, Darius Ow, Darrel Tan and Israel Tan. Mr Siva, who died in Bangkok on Saturday, had a 3½-year-old son with Ms Gieghase.PHOTO: ISAAC CHEW/FACEBOOK

Group, including 29-year-old's friends, has grievances about investigations by Thai police

Perplexed by circumstances surrounding his son's death, the father of former S-League footballer Sivaneswaran Ramalingam, 29, will be back in Bangkok this morning on the first flight to look for answers from the Thai police.

Mr Ramasamy Ramalingam, 60, a private bus driver, will be accompanied by at least four of his son's childhood friends. The group has a list of questions for the Thai authorities and some grievances about how investigations were handled.

Mr Siva died in Bangkok on Saturday. He and his girlfriend, Ms Sarah Gieghase, had a 3½-year-old son.

Mr Issac Chew, 29, who works in property development and had known Mr Siva for more than 16 years, said: "Where was his son during the incident? Where was Sarah? Who let the assailants into the condominium apartment?"

 
 

According to The New Paper (TNP), who spoke to a Thai police officer, police arrived at the apartment at 2.15am on Saturday to find Mr Siva in a chokehold by Mr Kevin Maes, Ms Gieghase's estranged husband.

The police told TNP that the incident had been sparked by a domestic dispute between Mr Siva and Ms Gieghase, who had been together for five years.

Ms Gieghase, a Belgian national, had called her parents for help and Mr Maes showed up with a friend.

The officer told TNP that Mr Maes intervened by restraining Mr Sivaneswaran in a chokehold but had not meant to kill him, only to subdue him.

According to chat transcripts in Mr Siva's phone, the two men had met nearby for a drink at midnight before Mr Siva returned home at around 1am. Mr Ramasamy said Ms Gieghase claimed she was not in the apartment during the incident.

Mr Siva was an S-League footballer with Sengkang Punggol (now Hougang United) in 2010. He joined Thai Premier League side Chonburi FC at the end of the season that year.

But from 2011, he started working as a sales manager at IBS Beauty, a Thai beauty products company co-founded by Mr Maes and Ms Gieghase.

Mr Siva was pronounced dead at 2.50am on Saturday. He was cremated on Monday in Singapore, without the attendance of his girlfriend or son.

The Thai police told Mr Ramasamy that Mr Maes had been arrested for allegedly causing grievous hurt and was out on bail.

Among the group's gripes are that some personal items of Mr Siva's, which they believe police should have taken for investigations, were missing when Mr Ramasamy arrived in Bangkok on Saturday. He returned to Singapore with his son's body on Sunday.

"I asked Sarah, where is his handphone, where is his laptop? The charger was in the apartment but the laptop wasn't," said Mr Ramasamy. "And 15 hours later, the handphone resurfaced - it was with Kevin's current girlfriend."

Friends and family said the couple's relationship had been rocky since October last year.

The last photograph on Mr Siva's phone, taken just three hours before he was pronounced dead, showed him standing next to Ms Gieghase, who was crying as she talked on the phone.

Today in Bangkok, the group intends to look to the Singapore embassy for help before speaking to lawyers. They will then meet the Thai police to view closed-circuit television footage from the condominium to determine who was in the apartment during the incident.

Mr Ashley Ow, 30, another childhood friend of Mr Siva who will be in Bangkok with Mr Ramasamy, said: "We want to ensure that a very just and professional investigation is done. It concerns a person's life - a life is gone."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2016, with the headline 'Father flying to Bangkok to seek answers'. Print Edition | Subscribe