Relax… mummy will be with you soon

Single mum tells sleepy 12-year-old son before suffocating him with towel and slashing her wrists:
Relax… mummy will be with you soon

By Chong Shin Yen

July 12, 2009 Print Ready Email Article

AS her only son opened his eyes and looked at her, she told him: ‘Mummy does not want to live any more. Do you want to go with me?

Click to see larger image

‘Mummy will be with you soon. Relax… Relax.’

With these chilling words, Kang Kah Li, 37, smothered her 12-year-old son.

Yesterday, Kang was sentenced to seven years’ jail after she pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Kang’s crime is all the more shocking as her world had revolved around her son.

Tan Eu-Jin, a Secondary 1 student, was everything to her.

They were very close and her family described her as a doting mother who spared no expense in giving her son whatever he wanted.

Then she was arrested on forgery charges last year.

She couldn’t bear the thought of going to jail and decided to kill herself.

As Kang would later tell the police, her misguided love left her worried about how Eu-Jin would cope after she was gone.

She decided to take Eu-Jin with her as she couldn’t ‘bear to see her son suffer a lonely life without her’.

Click to see larger image
TRAGIC: Kang Kah Li being rushed to hospital after her suicide attempt in May last year. –PICTURES: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS, LIANHE WANBAO

Tragically, she succeeded in killing him, but not herself.

They lived with her parents, aged 81 and 69, in a Toa Payoh Lorong 2 flat.

Kang divorced her husband in 2004 and was granted custody of Eu-Jin by the Family Court as she was deemed ‘most suitable’ to care for the child.

But in October 2007, she lost her job and started to have difficulties coping with her bills and loan repayments.

She forged a letter of employment to try to fool the banks into approving her credit card applications.

But her ploy was discovered and she was charged in April last year.

She had been jailed 11 weeks for a similar offence in 2003.

Her financial difficulties and relationship problems with her boyfriend made her feel like a failure.

Kang sank into depression and felt that she had let herself and her son down.

When her lawyer said she would very likely go to jail again, she was afraid that no one would look after Eu-Jin.

To make matters worse, she did not get along with her relatives.

She felt that they always bad-mouthed her and her son, court papers said.

A major bane of her life, she said, was her relatives always picking on Eu-Jin.

Didn’t trust anyone

She became so over-protective that she did not trust anyone to take care of him when she was not around.

Kang felt that if she ‘left her son behind’, no one would love and pamper him the way she did.

She described Eu-Jin as the ‘greatest achievement and proudest thing she had’.

On 16 May last year, the day she was due to face forgery and attempted cheating charges in court, she smothered her son in their flat.

After she was arrested that day, she told the police: ‘My son is an exact replica of me. We are both underachievers.

‘As an over-protective mother, I did not want him to suffer the social stigma of what I’ve gone through during my childhood days till now.

‘I can already see it happening to him, being looked down by friends and relatives.’

Psychiatrists found that Kang was suffering from a major depressive disorder at the time of her offence.

She is now responding well to medication and treatment.

According to court papers, Kang doted on Eu-Jin so much that when he played too much on weekends and was too tired to go to school on Monday, she would let him stay home.

When mother and son were upset by something or someone, they would comfort each other in their own special way – entwining their fingers together.

Kang’s neighbour told The New Paper yesterday: ‘She lavished gifts on him, buying him game consoles like PlayStation 3, Xbox, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Gameboy Advance.

‘Eu-Jin also had roller skates and a big plasma television to play the games.’

The neighbour, Leow Zan Hui, 19, a polytechnic student, said: ‘His mother would give him whatever he wanted for his birthdays and after exams.’

Zan Hui and Eu-Jin knew each other for four years and played together during their school holidays.

Another neighbour said that he thought Eu-Jin’s family was quite rich as he would go overseas at least once a year.

Mother and son also often watched movies together, neighbours said.

Describing Eu-Jin as sociable and popular, Zan Hui said his friend would call his mother every day to tell her what he did that day.

If he was late getting home, he would never forget to inform his mother.

Two days before his death, Eu-Jin SMSed his mother to come home soon and even volunteered to walk back with her from the MRT station.

Kang said in her police statement: ‘I have done nothing but brought shame and disgrace to the family since young till now.

‘And always never achieving anything in life now, not even able to commit suicide properly.

‘Thus, the result is the death of my beloved son who is the only person that mattered to me.

‘My only wish is to be with my son.’

– additional reporting by Han Yong Ming

She feeds son with sedatives, then kisses him good night

SHE went to town for lunch on 15 May last year, and in the afternoon, she went for a massage.

When her son, Tan Eu-Jin, 12, called her about wanting to watch a movie, she met him and gave him $20.

Kang Kah Li appeared normal then and there was no hint of her deadly plans.

That evening, she called her boyfriend, Mr Andrew Chan.

He reminded her to attend court the next day as he was her bailor.

He then blamed Kang for giving him problems and made derogatory remarks about her. Kang felt hurt and hung up.

Around 9pm, she met her son and they walked home.

They had dinner while Kang’s parents were watching television in the living room.

Kang went into the bedroom she shared with her son after dinner, and around 10.30pm, he joined her there.

Kang gave him two tablets of sedatives, telling him they were for his sensitive nose.

She kissed him good night and he fell asleep quickly on a mattress on the floor.

Kang then wrote three letters – to her family, Mr Chan, and her ex-husband, MrSherman Tan.

Around 1am, after a shower, she took some pills with beer and sat next to her sleeping son.

The court heard that she then used ribbons to tie up his ankles and wrists.

After that, Kang used a towel to suffocate Eu-Jin, who woke up and started to struggle.

As he choked, Kang continued pressing on his nose.

After a while, he stopped moving. He was foaming at his mouth and bleeding from his nostrils.

Kang cleaned her son’s face and changed him into his favourite clothes.

She then swallowed 50 hypertension pills and slashed her wrists with a penknife she had bought earlier that day.

Crying, Kang then called Mr Chan, who rushed over. His knocks woke up Kang’s parents who let him in.

After 10 minutes of coaxing, Kang unlocked the bedroom door.

Eu-Jin was motionless on the mattress.

Mother and son were taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital where Eu-Jin was pronounced dead.

Kang was arrested later that day.

Yesterday, Kang’s lawyers, Mr Edmond Pereira and Mr S Balamurugan, urged the court to consider her circumstances and impose a lenient sentence.

Mr Pereira said Kang had been depressed and had wanted to kill her son because she could not trust others to take care of him if she died.

Kang had told the police after her arrest that her only wish ‘was to be with my son’.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tan Kiat Pheng said this simply showed how selfish Kang was.

DPP Tan said Kang had planned the killing and had breached the trust of her young son by taking his life deliberately.

Before passing sentence, Justice Chan Seng Onn said this was a ‘tragic and unfortunate’ case the court had to deal with.

He said he passed the sentence ‘with a heavy heart’ and noted that the greater pain which Kang had to bear was not the sentence, but the death of her son at her hands.

‘You’re now left with the fond memories of the good times you had with your child when he was alive,’ Justice Chan said.


Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221 4444 (24 hours)

Comcare Helpline: 1800-222 0000

Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283 7019


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