Huang Na murder


 

Huang Na, aged 8, went missing on 10 October, 2004. Her disappearance resulted in a nation-wide search in Singapore. Her body was eventually discovered in a box dumped at the Telok Blangah Hill Park. Took Leng How, a colleague of Huang Na's mother, was charged with her murder. He was convicted and hanged after failing to overturn his conviction at the Court of Appeal when Singapore President S. R. Nathan rejected his plea of clemency. 

Details
On 10 October, 2004, Huang Na, a Primary Two student at Jin Tai Primary School went missing from the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre. Her mother, Chinese national Huang Shuying, worked at the wholesale centre but was away in China when her daughter disappeared. Huang Na's disappearance resulted in a nation-wide search fuelled by coverage of the case in the national papers.

Took Leng How, aged 24, a vegetable packer at the wholesale centre was twice questioned by the police. He was Madam Huang's colleague and had previously shared a flat with her in Clementi. Took was also known to be friendly with the victim. 

However, Took fled Singapore before he was due to undergo a lie detector test by walking across the Causeway resulting in a manhunt in Malaysia. He was eventually persuaded by his father to surrender to the Malaysian police on 30 October, 2004.

Took admitted strangling Huang Na with his bare hands, in unit 01-44, a storeroom in Block 15 at the wholesale centre. He had lured the girl into the storeroom for a game of hide-and-seek. According to court testimonials, Took stripped Huang naked and bound her. She knocked her head accidentally against some boxes and went into fits, choking on her own vomit. Took panicked and eventually strangled her to death. He checked if she was alive by striking her three times on her neck. When she was found to be still breathing, Took strangled her.

After she died, Took wrapped Huang Na's body in plastic bags and put them into a cardboard box which he then sealed. The box was eventually dumped in Telok Blangah Hill Park.

Trial
Took did not testify during the trial as his lawyer, Subhas Anandan, submitted that he was schizophrenic and hence, was not competent to take the stand. Anandan argued that Took was mentally disturbed, citing his hallucinations.

But the prosecution argued that Took was systematic and methodical in planning Huang Na's murder which showed that he was not mentally disturbed. They also pointed out that although Took initially denied any involvement in the case, he made 18 confessions on different aspects of the murder, giving a clear indication that he was rational. Took had also admitted to sexually assaulting on Huang Na and disposing of her clothes in a nearby rubbish dump that did not have any security cameras.

Took was convicted of Huang Na's murder and sentenced to death. He appealed against the conviction and death sentence with the Court of Appeal but was unsuccessful despite a 2-1 split opinion on the extent of his involvement in the case. One of the three appeal judges, Justice Kan Ting Chiu, pointed out that there was no conclusive evidence to show that Took had killed Huang Na by smothering her. However, the other two judges disagreed with him, resulting in the rejection of Took's appeal.

Took's relatives then sought signatures in support of a petition to the President for clemency. Despite gathering 35,000 signatures within four months, the plea of clemency to the President was rejected. Took was hanged in Changi Prison on 3 November, 2006.

Aftermath
Controversy erupted when the Singapore public learnt that part of the money Huang Na's family received from the public who attended her funeral went into building a four-storey home in China. According to Madam Huang, the contributions from the public were used to build Huang Na's tomb in Putian, China, and to renovate the family home in China. Some of the money was also donated to charity. Madam Huang claimed that the rest of the money would be saved for future rites for Huang Na.

Took's wife, Madam Yuli, an Indonesian, is said to have gone back to Indonesia with their son, Shunwang.

 

Author
Tan Yee Lin

 

References
Au Yong, J. (2005, July 31). Who is the real Took?  The Straits Times. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Chan, C. (2009, April 14). Still no takers for store where Huang Na died. The New Paper. Retrieved October 12, 2009, from Factiva.

Chia, D. (2005, July, 29). Took confessed 18 times. The New Paper. Retrieved October 12, 2009, from Factiva.

Chia, D. (2005, October 11). Why not? say China neighbours. The New Paper. Retrieved October 12, 2009, from Factiva.

Chia, D. (2006, January 27). 'I should not have asked him to surrender'  The New Paper. Retrieved October 12, 2009, from Factiva.

Chong, C K. (2005, August 27). Killing was done in 'calm and calculated manner'  The Straits Times. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Chong, C K. (2006, January 26). How the life of Huang Na, 8, was snuffed out by vegetable packerThe Straits Times. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

From close friend to killer. (2005, December 31). The Straits Times. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

His silence 'not a sign of guilt'. (2005, August 27). The Straits Times. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Ho, A. (2006, February 25). Huang Na verdict: The nose and the noose. The Straits Times. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Ho, L Y. (2009, April 20). We didn't spend the $126,000 carelessly. The New Paper. Retrieved October 12, 2009, from Factiva.

Koh, M. (2006, November 5). 'Took picked own obit photo'. The New Paper. Retrieved October 12, 2009, from Factiva.

Malaysian hanged for murder of eight-year-old Chinese girl. (2006, November 3). Agence France Presse. Retrieved October 12, 2009, from Factiva.

M'sian Took Leng How hanged this morning. (2006, November 3). Bernama. Retrieved October 12, 2009, from Factiva.

Ng, A. (2006, October 4). Took's clemency plea rejected; With no pardon from the President, Huang Na's killer will be hanged within weeks. Today. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Ng, A.. (2006, November 4). A picture of calm; Murderer Took did not look like a man about to die in the days before his hanging. Today. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Further Readings
Anandan, S. (2009). The best I could. Singapore : Marshall Cavendish.

 

The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Events
Law and government>>Criminal law>>Disposition of cases
Murder--Singapore

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