SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - For some people, time heals.
Not so, for Madam Daliah Aim, 66.
Though more than 35 years have passed since her eldest child was murdered, the mother of three still cannot talk about him without crying.
In fact, she was so devastated that this is her first interview since the murder in 1981.
She broke down several times during her interview with The New Paper, still deep in grief.
On Feb 6, that year, her first-born, Ghazali Marzuki, 10, was brutally killed by one of Singapore’s most notorious murderers, Adrian Lim, 39, abetted by his wife Catherine Tan Mui Choo, 26, and his mistress Hoe Kah Hong, 25.
In the past, whenever I thought about him, my mind would suddenly go blank and I would feel everything turning darker.
- Madam Daliah Aim, the mother of Ghazali Marzuki, one of Adrian Lim’s victims
Ghazali was their second victim. He was drugged, choked, then drowned. There were also burn marks on his back and a puncture on his arm.
Just days before his murder, Lim, Tan and Hoe also tortured and killed Agnes Ng Siew Hock, nine.
The trio were executed exactly 28 years ago today.
Speaking to TNP in her Bukit Panjang flat last month, Madam Daliah said she was so consumed by grief she suffered fainting spells. She got better only about two years ago.
Dabbing tears from her eyes, the cleaner told TNP: “In the past, whenever I thought about him, my mind would suddenly go blank and I would feel everything turning darker.
“I’ve lost count of how many times I blacked out. I fainted at my workplace and on the bus. Luckily, there were always kind people around to help me.”
The widow said there were times when family members have tried to help her by advising her to let go of the past.
She told TNP: “I told them they would never understand what I’m going through.
“They’ve never had a son who died in such a terrible way. My poor Ghazali had been brutally murdered.”
Madam Daliah has two surviving children.
Ghazali’s sister is now 41 while his brother is 39.
Both are married with their own families.
Madam Daliah will never forget the day Ghazali went missing after visiting his grandmother in Clementi during the Chinese New Year holidays in 1981.
He had gone downstairs on Feb 6 to play with his two cousins.
But Ghazali was nowhere to be found when the two older boys came home later.
When asked where he was, they refused to answer.
The truth only emerged after their parents slapped them - demanding answers.
It turned out Ghazali had followed a woman - later revealed to be Hoe - who had asked him to help her with some errands.
The family searched frantically around the neighbourhood without success.
Madam Daliah told TNP: “I always warned him not to follow strangers, and he’s usually such an obedient boy. I don’t know why he did that.
“I even went to several mosques asking for divine help.
“After prayers were done, one man told me to prepare for the worst. I was devastated.”
The next day, police officers came to her home to say Ghazali’s body had been found in Toa Payoh.
She told TNP: “I totally lost it. I was so consumed by grief that I had to be sedated.”
She recalled falling in and out of consciousness several times over the next few days.
Her husband did not allow her to go to Ghazali’s funeral and from then on, tried to shield her from details of the gruesome way in which he was killed.
One of her four grandchildren, student Iskandar Rossali, 19, told TNP that he found out about his family’s link with the Adrian Lim case only when he was nine.
He said: “I was watching TV at home with my mother when a segment about the murders came on.
“She turned to me and said, ‘Do you know Ghazali was my brother? He was your uncle.’
“I couldn’t believe it and read up about the case.”
He said he was furious when he found out how his uncle had died.
He told TNP: “He was killed in an inhumane manner. Now, I try to cheer Nenek (grandmother in Malay) up whenever she gets sad. My uncle didn’t deserve to die that way.
“Adrian Lim and the two women were monsters.”
Madam Daliah still finds it hard to forgive the trio and visits Ghazali’s grave at Lim Chu Kang Cemetery several times a month.
She said: “He was such a good boy. Many years have passed and I still miss him. I can still hear his voice whenever I’m alone.
“But I know he’s in a better place now.”
He sexually assaulted, killed nine-year-old girl
Adrian Lim’s mistress, Hoe Kah Hong, lured Agnes Ng Siew Hock, nine, from the Church of the Risen Christ in Toa Payoh on Jan 24, 1981 and took her to Lim’s flat at nearby Block 12 at Lorong 7 Toa Payoh.
Agnes had just attended her weekly religious class at the church.
While in the flat, the little girl was injected with a sedative and sexually assaulted by Lim.
She was later suffocated and her body was found stuffed inside a travel bag by the lift landing at the same block.
She was the first murder victim of Lim, Hoe and his wife, Catherine Tan Mui Choo.
Fourteen days later, 10-year-old Ghazali Marzuki’s body was found between Block 10 and 11 at Lorong 7 Toa Payoh.
He was drugged, choked then drowned. There were burn marks on his back and a puncture on his arm. Blood was also found around his nostrils.
The police searched the area and spotted a trail of blood which led them to the trio’s flat on the seventh storey.
The authorities arrested them after finding Agnes’ name on a slip of paper.
They also found Ghazali’s particulars on a note pad.
After a 41-day trial, Lim, Tan and Hoe were sentenced to hang on May 23, 1983.
Lim accepted the verdict but Tan and Hoe appealed, claiming mental illness. Both appeals were dismissed.
They were all executed on Nov 25, 1988.