The two men who allegedly abducted and held the 79-year-old mother of Sheng Siong chief executive for ransom, were charged in court on Friday under the Kidnapping Act.
Lee Sze Yong, 41, is accused of abducting Madam Ng Lye Poh on Wednesday between 10.30am and 1.02pm along Hougang Avenue 2, with intent to hold her for ransom. His accomplice, Heng Chen Boon, 50, is said to have helped him confine the victim in a vehicle between 8.30pm and midnight.
The court granted the prosecution's request for the two Singaporeans to be remanded in police custody for further investigations. The case against them will be heard again on Jan 17. The men face the death penalty or life in jail if convicted for the offence. Lee, who is the younger of the two, may also be caned.
Madam Ng was released unhurt shortly after her son, Mr Lim Hock Chee - who founded the supermarket chain in 1985 - paid a $2 million ransom just before midnight on Wednesday. She was kidnapped earlier that day after a trip to a nearby market and taken by car, while blindfolded and bound, to an unknown place.
The suspects were nabbed by the police at about 1am, an hour or so after Mr Lim dropped off the ransom under a tree in Sembawang Park. The cash was recovered in full by the police at the ransom drop-off point after Madam Ng was released.
The older suspect was said to be a credit card promoter and the younger man, an odd-job worker. They are not believed to be related to each other or to the Lim family.
There have only been three other cases of kidnapping for ransom reported in Singapore over the last 13 years, all of which were solved by the police.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday commended the police for the swift arrest. "Great job by the Singapore Police Force," said PM Lee in a Facebook post. "Glad Madam Ng is safe and sound. Also glad that her son... alerted the police as soon as it happened, so that the police could rescue Madam Ng and solve the case."