Fugitive returns to crime scene after 38 years

Seow Lam Seng being escorted by officers outside Sin Po Po bar, seen with the old-fashioned neon sign, in Tanjong Katong Road yesterday. It was the scene of a shooting incident 38 years ago, when Lee Ah Fatt drew his pistol on police officers and Seo
Seow Lam Seng being escorted by officers outside Sin Po Po bar, seen with the old-fashioned neon sign, in Tanjong Katong Road yesterday. It was the scene of a shooting incident 38 years ago, when Lee Ah Fatt drew his pistol on police officers and Seow escaped in the commotion that ensued.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

In 1980, 25-year-old Malaysian Seow Lam Seng escaped arrest after allegedly being found in possession of a firearm.

Police officers had noticed him and another man behaving suspiciously near Sin Po Po bar in Tanjong Katong Road.

As the officers drew near to check on them, the other man, 30-year-old Lee Ah Fatt, drew his pistol and aimed it at them.

Seow was also allegedly carrying a pistol in his back pocket .

An officer drew his own service revolver in defence and shot Lee.

As Lee continued to struggle with the police, Seow escaped during the commotion. Lee was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

But Seow managed to evade capture until last Thursday, when he was arrested in Penang.

Yesterday, nearly 38 years later, he returned to the scene of the incident, escorted by the police. With restraints strapped around his wrists and ankles, the 63-year-old drew curious looks - but no recognition - from people in the area.

A fairly nondescript stretch along Tanjong Katong Road, the area is today home to an assortment of eateries. Two doors away from the original crime scene, a dental clinic has replaced an old United Overseas Bank branch.

Next door, a sleek white sign advertises pet grooming services.

The only trace that remains of the past is Sin Po Po bar, a popular nightspot from the 60s to the 80s.

While the original owners are long gone, the bar retains its original name, on display on an old-fashioned neon sign that sits in stark contrast to the neighbouring stores.

Seow will be remanded at Central Police Division and will be back in court on April 2. He can be jailed for life if convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm. He cannot be caned as he is above 50.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2018, with the headline 'Fugitive returns to crime scene after 38 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe