First, his father called him on the phone, sounding angry. Then, in the heat of an argument in their West Coast Rise home, his father poked him in the chest and then took a swing at him.This was the account of businessman Mark Tan Peng Liat, 30, who is accused of killing his father by putting him in a headlock and chokehold.
Taking the stand yesterday, Tan said that his father, Tan Kok Keng, was in good shape, lifted weights regularly and had a black belt in taekwondo. They had a good relationship and never had a physical fight, until that fateful day on Feb 10 last year.
Tan, who has been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, was giving his version of events that led to the death of his 67-year-old father.
Asked by his lawyer Derek Kang to describe their relationship, Tan said that it was a “good” one.
“This was the first physical fight. We rarely disagreed (or) argued,” he added.
On the day of the fight, Tan received a call from his father, telling him that there was a suspected case of theft, so he quickly went back to their semi-detached house.
“I don’t remember (my father’s) exact words, but he was extremely angry, agitated. He made accusations towards me of stealing his money,” Tan testified. “I tried to find (out the) specifics (as to why my father was so angry at me), but I did not manage to get them.”
When Tan reached home, the pair argued in the master bedroom. Then, Tan claimed that his father “poked” him in the chest using the index finger, and as he moved closer to his father, the older man “threw a wide punch towards” his face.
“I managed to (block the) punch ... and I tried to hug him to calm him down,” Tan said.
While grappling with each other, they ended up in the master bathroom, where his father was constantly trying to elbow him, he said.
“It was chaotic,” Tan recalled, adding that he was trying to get his father to stop the attacks.
When he applied the headlock later, it was to restrict his father’s movements, he said.
The family’s domestic helper Sumarti Dwi Ambarwati, who saw what was going on, went to their relative’s home nearby to get help.
After she left, Tan noticed that his father appeared to have calmed down, so he decided to leave the bathroom — but his father followed him out.
“He recovered ... and he (came back) … at me again,” he said.
“(He was) coming towards me with (his) arms outstretched (and looked like he was going) to tackle me or grab me, and I felt his hands on me again.”
In the struggle, Tan’s right arm slipped down to his father’s neck and he used his left hand to press down on the upper part of his father’s chest, around the collarbone.
Asked by Mr Kang if Tan had ever restrained anyone around the neck this way before, Tan replied that he had done it to his friend when they were in their late teens, but he did not think there was a risk.
When asked if he had any intention to harm his father in any way, Tan said: “No, I didn’t even want to hurt his feelings. I just wanted him to stop … I don’t want any of this to happen.”
The trial continues today.