SINGAPORE: Thinking that his eldest daughter was the mastermind behind his children's plan to sell the family home in Malaysia, a man crossed the border into Singapore and stabbed her 17 times near a Marsiling bus stop, intending to kill her.
He was arrested at a coffee shop five days after the incident.
Shoo Ah San, a 65-year-old Malaysian, pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Nov 2) to one count of attempted murder, with a second charge of possessing an offensive weapon in public considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Shoo, whose wife died from illness in 1992, has three daughters and two sons. The victim was their eldest child, a 42-year-old Singapore permanent resident who lives with her husband in Marsiling.
Shoo had a distant relationship with his children, which was further strained by a dispute over a house in Taman Perling, Johor Bahru, the court heard.
THE HOUSE DISPUTE
Initially, Shoo rented the house where he lived with three of his children. In 2000, the house was purchased in the victim's name as Shoo was an undischarged bankrupt and his elder son was under 21.
Shoo's elder son had contributed to the purchase of the house and continued to service the monthly mortgage, but Shoo claimed that he paid for the house.
He also claimed that the house was registered in the victim's name only because he was not allowed to own a second property in Malaysia.
In 2007, Shoo moved out to work in Melaka, returning only occasionally.
In 2016, Shoo's elder son changed the locks to keep him away as he had caused disruption such as removing the ancestral tablet from the house.
In early 2019, Shoo broke in, writing on the walls and mirrors with red paint proclaiming that his eldest daughter was unfilial.
He also wrote about his intention to kill his children. His elder son arranged to meet him after this, but Shoo did not turn up, the court heard.
In March 2019, Shoo's children decided to refurbish and sell the house to avoid any more trouble from their father.
When Shoo saw the refurbished house, he became upset, thinking it had been sold. He accused his eldest daughter of being the mastermind behind the sale and for making him homeless. He also begrudged her for not giving him living expenses. It is unclear if the house was eventually sold.
HE BEGAN PLANNING TO KILL HIS DAUGHTER
Shoo harboured thoughts of killing his daughter from as early as June 2019, when he assumed the house had been sold. He planned to kill himself after murdering her, by jumping off the block of flats in Singapore where his daughter lived.
He carried out his plan in January 2020 when his girlfriend asked him to move out of her house.
At about 4am on Jan 17, 2020, Shoo rode his motorcycle across the Causeway to Singapore. He went to his eldest daughter's neighbourhood in Marsiling Lane to look for her. He did not know her exact address but knew she would head to work soon.
At about 5am, Shoo saw his daughter walking alone along Marsiling Lane towards a bus stop. He ran towards her, lifted his helmet visor and said in Cantonese: "You all harm me very miserably."
He then stabbed his daughter on her shoulder, chest, shoulder blade and back with a knife that had a 10cm-long serrated blade, after thinking that she had ignored him.
Shoo aimed his first stab at his daughter's neck as he wanted to kill her, but she managed to block the attack.
When he sensed that someone was approaching, Shoo fled towards his parked motorcycle while his daughter shouted for help and ran across the road.
A passer-by called an ambulance after seeing blood on her.
Shoo rode his motorcycle out of the car park and saw his daughter seated on a grass verge with the passer-by. He rushed towards his daughter, exclaiming in Cantonese: "You have not died? Then I will die."
He attacked his daughter a second time by stabbing her chest, arm and abdomen with the same knife.
Shoo stopped only when he saw blood flowing from his daughter's mouth and rode off.
His daughter underwent physiotherapy and medical treatment until June 2021.
She avoids carrying heavy items for fear of injury and is wary whenever she goes to the same bus stop.
She now stands instead of sitting at the bus stop, as it would be easier for her to run in case of trouble. She also avoids the path where she was attacked and makes detours to go home.
PROSECUTION SEEKS 16 TO 18 YEARS' JAIL
After the attack, Shoo remained in Singapore and tried in vain to search for his elder son.
He was arrested at a coffee shop near his son's workplace on Jan 22, 2020. Police officers recovered the knife from Shoo, as well as notes alleging that his children lacked filial piety.
Shoo was assessed at the Institute of Mental Health and found to have no mental illness or intellectual disability.
The prosecution sought between 16 and 18 years' jail for Shoo, pointing to how the offence was premeditated and comprehensive. With the serrated knife, Shoo inflicted potentially life-threatening and fatal injuries on his daughter, including a collapsed lung.
"The most important point is that the accused returned for a second helping upon realising the victim was alive," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhou Yang.
Defence lawyer Victor David Lau from Drew and Napier sought 10 years' jail instead, objecting to the prosecutor's characterisation of Shoo staying in Singapore to "hunt down" his son.
He said the circumstances of the case portray a "very lonely father figure" who was estranged from the rest of his family.
"It's not denied by the prosecution that he was chased out of his house by his children and forced to live homeless on the streets," said Mr Lau.
The injuries did not have a "long-lasting effect" and the victim has "recovered well", he said.
He pointed to his client's old age, saying it was relevant for a reduction in sentence. A man's life expectancy in Singapore is 81 and 74 in Malaysia, he said, which means a sentence of 16 years would effectively be life imprisonment for Shoo.
In response, the prosecutor said the lowest life expectancy for a man in the world is 54, in Lesotho. If the defence's argument held, it would mean that every citizen there would be given lenient sentences, he said.
Justice Aedit Abdullah said he would deliver the sentence on Friday, after confirming that no one has been visiting Shoo in prison other than the defence lawyer.
The penalties for attempted murder are life imprisonment and caning, or a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine or caning. Shoo cannot be caned as he is above 50.