Man jailed after deadly mahjong dispute

A dispute between two elderly men over a game of mahjong took a deadly twist after one of them pulled the other down a flight of stairs, causing him to fall and hit his head on the ground.

Former actor Chan Pong Koon, 70, who acted in the local 1976 Mandarin film Two Sides Of The Bridge, was rushed to Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where he died of a head injury and pneumonia. The lung infection developed during his hospitalisation.

His attacker, Tan Meng Teng, 61, was jailed for two years yesterday after pleading guilty to causing grievous hurt to the older man.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tang Shangjun said that both men were members of the Prime Life Association, a club located on the third storey of a North Canal Road shophouse.

The members-only club provides a venue for its elderly patrons to gather and play games.

The two men were playing mahjong at around 7pm on July 26 last year when they got into a dispute over game rules. It turned personal as they commented on each other's playing styles.

"At one point, a disagreement ensued in which the victim alleged that the accused had failed to make note of certain winning moves that he had made," DPP Tang told the court.

"The accused stood up and made a gesture as if to flip over the mahjong table... The victim then taunted the accused, and asked the accused to 'go downstairs' to 'talk things outside'," he said.

The two men left the mahjong room and were walking down the stairs when Mr Chan pushed Tan on his back. The latter stumbled down a few steps but did not fall.

Mr Chan then turned around and walked back up the stairs. Tan caught up with him and pulled him backwards, causing him to fall down and hit his head on a second-storey landing.

"Despite seeing that the victim had fallen down the stairs, the accused did not offer any assistance and instead continued climbing back up to the third floor," said DPP Tang.

The club's other members helped Mr Chan, who was semi-conscious when an ambulance took him to SGH.

An examination revealed that he suffered head injuries, including bleeding in his brain. His condition deteriorated despite emergency surgery, and he also developed pneumonia. He died on Aug 3 last year.

Offenders convicted of causing grievous hurt can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined or caned. Tan cannot be caned, as he is older than 50 years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2018, with the headline 'Man jailed after deadly mahjong dispute'. Print Edition | Subscribe