Murdered Maid

Hong Kong is a former British colony where many of its citizens enjoy a certain degree of Democracy. In recent years, the rapid influx of mainlanders and various directives passed down by Beijing resulted in resentment and waves of protests. Ironically, human rights and transparency were sometimes even less respected under British rule.

The day was 26 February 1973. The location was a luxury apartment housing high ranking British civil servants. One of the units was occupied by the McLeans. Mr McLean was the chief of the Land Registry. The McLeans employed a part-time servant by the name of Wong Yoke Lin. Ms Wong was a young woman only 18 of age. She had been with them for 6 months and her normal working hours were from 0630 to 1830. On that day, Wong was asked to start work at 1300. Mr McLean was then away in England, leaving Mrs McLean who asked Miss Wong to tidy up the place in the afternoon and prepare dinner as she would be back in the evening.

Ms Wong arrived at the empty apartment punctually at 1300. The security guard saw her open the door and enter the unit. The next time he saw her, she was carried out on a stretcher…

Mrs McLean returned home at about 1800, expecting dinner to be ready. Instead, she saw a packet of meat and some provisions left at the door. She rang the door bell. There was no answer. She reached for her keys and opened the door. The apartment seemed empty. She called out for Miss Wong. There was no reply. Sensing that something was seriously amiss, she went outside the apartment and called for help.

Her neighbour Mr Mills, entered the unit with her and began searching the apartment. They entered the bedroom and saw a pool of blood. Lying on the floor, was the dead body of Miss Wong Yoke Lin coiled with a piece of rope and soaked in blood. They called the police.

Ms Wong’s body was supine. One arm was raised above her head while the other was down. The handles of two knives protruded from her throat. The weapons came from the kitchen. One of the knives was a blunt cake cutting knife. It must have been stabbed with great force to have been able to penetrate her throat. As for the rope that was coiled around her hands and neck, they couldn’t have restrained her in any way as the rope was too loosely tied. Autopsy revealed that Ms Wong’s time of death was between 1300 and 1500. However, she was not killed by the knives. She had been strangulated and the stabbing occurred after she had died.

When the police questioned the occupants at the apartment, it was revealed that the last known person to have seen Miss Wong alive was not the security guard. It was another Ms Wong (not related), a servant working in another unit in the same apartment. The second Ms Wong told police that she had a chat with the deceased for about 20 minutes, after which they continued with their chores. At about 1440, the living Ms Wong went over to Wong Yoke Lin’s unit to borrow an iron. When she knocked on the door, there was no reply. Given Ms Wong’s testimony, the time of Wong Yoke Lin’s death was narrowed down to between 1320 and 1440.

At 1600, the delivery man who received an order for a piece of meat and some provisions knocked on the door and received no reply. He left the stuff at the door and departed. The police interviewed almost every person working in the neighbourhood but to no avail. The closest they came to a credible suspect was a sweeper by the name of Chan Hon Tong who worked about 100 yards from the scene of the crime. He was spotted hanging around the vicinity of the crime at 1700 by witnesses.

When asked where he was on that day, Chan said that he had finished work and arrived home at 1100 to cook lunch and pick his daughter up from the babysitter. He also claimed to have watched a movie in the evening at about 1900. For some reason, the police decided to probe deeper. They interviewed the babysitter who said that Chan would normally pick his daughter up at 1630 every day and on the day of the crime, he did the same! The police also discovered that he had told his neighbours to tell the police that they had seen him that afternoon even when they didn’t. When asked him to elaborate on the movie he watched that evening, police discovered that he had lied about watching the movie too.

One month after the murder, Chan was officially arrested and his home was thoroughly searched. The police seized garments from his home and before long, they came up with what appeared to be incriminating evidence. Among the clothes in Chan’s possession, a woman’s sweater had loose fibres which matched the sweater which Miss Wong was wearing! In turn, the victim’s sweater also had loose fibres from the sweater in Chan’s possession. Chan was tried in court and the jury unanimously found him guilty of murder. He was sentenced to death.


This would have been a fitting conclusion for some fictional detective story, but the press at that time only gave very sketchy reports on the case. In later years, when there was more press and speech freedom in Hong Kong, members of the legal profession have discussed the case and found many doubtful points.

First of all, identifying fibres from clothing was a “trendy” technology in those days. That explains why the police was so eager to seize clothing from Chan’s home. But logically speaking, finding matching fibres does not prove with certainty that the alleged murderer had committed the crime. It merely proves that the two pieces of garment had been in close contact.

Why did Chan Hon Tong pull on an undersized woman’s sweater to commit the crime? Furthermore, Wong Yoke Lin’s body was soaked in blood. If there had been close contact between the two garments, Chan would have had to escape the scene of the crime with a blood-soaked woman’s sweater, gone home to change out of it, only to return to be spotted at the vicinity of the crime at 1600. It clearly didn’t make any sense.

What if the old sweater had been a garment which Wong Yoke Lin discarded and Chan the sweeper picked it up and kept it without knowing that it had belonged to her? The presence of fibres in both sweaters could be far more neatly explained if Wong had kept the two sweaters in close contact and washed them together.

People tell lies for a variety of reasons. Firstly, there was no need for Chan to lie about watching the movie at 1900 if he had known Miss Wong’s time of murder. It was also not mentioned that the babysitter was so muddle-headed that she didn’t even know that Chan habitually returned home at 1100 and not 1630. She was not a reliable witness, but that didn’t bother the prosecution. It is thus very likely that Chan was afraid that his neighbours might say the wrong thing and fail to give him an alibi. But in rehearsing them on what to say to the police, he had aroused suspicion. In trying to stay out of trouble, he had dug a hole for himself instead. If we look at it this way, lying and getting his neighbours to lie were not proof of his guilt. Being the prime suspect, he could just be afraid and ended up overdoing things.

Let’s return to the scene of the crime. It was a luxury apartment housing top British civil servants – a high profile location with a low tolerance for bad press. The weapons were not brought in by the murderer. They belonged in the apartment. There were no signs of struggle and nothing was stolen. The door was locked and never broken. Chan would have had to climb in through the window and escape from it too. Strangely, no attempts were made by experts to reconstruct the whole crime. All that convicted Chan were the fibres on an old sweater which happened to be in his possession.

Now let’s take a look at the body. Why was the rope coiled in a such a way that it wouldn’t have restrained the victim? Perhaps it was a decoy put in place after she was murdered. Wong died from strangulation. The two stabs in her neck were clearly the murderer’s desperate attempt to made sure she died after she had passed out from strangulation. Why would a robber not known to victim bother to do that? Perhaps the young servant girl had accidentally stumbled upon a deadly secret …

Chan may have been convicted and executed, but there are doubts that remain till this day. Perhaps with better technology in the future, some enthusiastic maverick not afraid of embarrassing the authorities may come up with the truth. You may want to think twice before picking up discarded stuff.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

A Reluctant Killer?

For those who enjoyed reading Deadly Diamond, here’s another crime story which may interest you.

It was 18th September 1995. A Chan family in Hong Kong lodged a missing person’s report. The missing individual was May Chan Mei Yi, a 26-year-old woman working for a telco. May was the youngest in a family of 5. Her father was a businessman. In January 1995, she suddenly informed her parents that she was planning to move out and stay closer to her workplace. In early September, she moved into the city but maintained constant contact with her family. After receiving a call from her on the 16th of September 1995, May became uncontactable. Her family tried all means to contact her but to no avail. They called the police.

Initial investigations revealed that May Chan was a simple woman who was close to her family and did not mix around with bad company. The police had no clues until an elderly gentleman found a wallet and handed it over to the police. It was May Chan’s wallet. Her bank accounts were checked. Over $10,000 had been drawn out and the two cards missing from her wallet were found to have been used recently.

Though May was secretive about her private life, one of her siblings revealed that she had been spotted with a male friend. Her mobile phone records showed that her most frequent contact before she moved out was 25-year-old Lam Wai Hang, a former colleague of May’s at the telco. The police called Lam in for an interview. During the interview, Lam admitted that he was cohabiting with May Chan. However, it was also revealed that Lam had another girlfriend going by the surname of Tam (full identity withheld). Ms Tam was working at the advertising department of a local newspaper. Lam revealed that Tam was a childhood friend and they had been living together for years. He only knew May Chan as a colleague recently. Their friendship grew into romance and their sexual relationship only started in April that year. They would often check into a hotel room after work. All this while, Ms Tam had no idea that Lam had been two-timing her.

The police searched both dwellings and found nothing suspicious. Ms Tam was even able to collaborate Lam’s story that he was with her when May disappeared. However, going on a hunch, police detectives arrested Lam, charged him with credit card theft (for which they had some evidence) and put him under intense interrogation, showing telco records that he had contacted May on 17th September 1995 and asking him to explain. After days in custody, an exhausted Lam finally confessed to murdering May Chan.

Lam led the police to a temple. On a rugged and remote hill slope next to the temple, was a discarded luggage bag. As investigators approached, the stench was unbearable. When the bag was opened, the nude body of a woman, wrapped in a towel and with a plastic bag over her head was found. Shockingly, her legs from her thighs down, were sawn off and kept in a plastic bag! Back in the forensic lab, multiple injuries caused by a blunt object like a hammer were found on the head of the decomposed body. How did all this happen?

While Ms Tam did not notice anything suspicious about Lam’s behaviour, May’s intuition was far stronger. Suspecting that Lam was two-timing her after living with him for a couple of weeks, she searched his things and found a receipt for the payment of rental at Tam’s apartment. A fight ensued, but they still pretended that nothing had happened when they attended a wedding that night. After the wedding dinner, May demanded that Lam made a choice. Cornered and unhappy with the way May forced him to choose, Lam told May that he would end their relationship. May was angrier than she was distraught. She didn’t go back to Lam’s apartment but called up her ex-boyfriend Cheung (full identity withheld) and spent the night with him!

After dinner with Ms Tam on the evening of 17th September, Lam texted May and asked her to return to the apartment as he had something to say to her. May replied the text message when she had arrived. This much could be verified by the mobile phone records. A neighbour said that he heard the couple quarrelling and then he heard the woman scream. Lam was the only person alive who knew exactly what happened that night.

Lam testified that he met May at the apartment and without any mention of breaking up, they had sex. May had apparently assumed that he had changed his mind. But Lam was still sober and adamant. He told May that he couldn’t live with her, pretending that nothing was wrong. May lost her temper. She confessed to spending the night with her ex-boyfriend, Cheung and extolled the latter’s skill in bed while belittling Lam.

Lam was furious. Just as he told May that he was going back to Tam, she picked up a knife and threatened to kill herself if he dared step out of the apartment. But May’s state of mind changed abruptly from suicidal to murderous. She turned the knife at him. Shocked, Lam tried to get away, but he realised that he was no match for a mad woman with a knife, so he grabbed a hammer and hit her repeatedly on the head. He then dumped her body in the bathroom, took her cards from her wallet and claimed his “inheritance”. As reported by witnesses, he had also visited a sauna, as if to wash the smell of death off his body. He even sold May’s necklace at a pawnshop and got himself a gold chain which he proudly wore.

Only then did he get back to the body. He bought a suitcase, but failed to stuff her body inside. So he got himself an electric saw and cut off her legs. Only then did he manage to stuff everything into the suitcase. He then rented a car, drove to a remote location and threw the suitcase down a rugged hill slope next to a temple.

In court, Lam claimed that he had killed May in self defence. The jury rejected his defence and found him guilty of theft and murder. It’s probably difficult to imagine how a reluctant killer who was defending himself in an attack could have sawn off the legs of a person he loved, exchanged her necklace for something he could wear and drawn out all the money from her bank account. Lam was sentenced to life in prison. He made an appeal but was unsuccessful.

Story taken from 危险人物 by 翁静晶

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Romance In The 70s

While I was on having a holiday with my kids in Malacca and waiting for the river cruise, I overheard an old man talking to his friend.

“In the past, we didn’t have many places to go to when we went on dates. Now, they have cleaned up the river, built footpaths, installed lights and placed benches on the riverbank. It would have been wonderful if we had all these back then. Now, we’re old and the youngsters only go to shopping malls.”

Such a pity. I believe many people have such regrets. When they had the energy and opportunity, they didn’t have the time or money. When they have the time and money, they don’t have the energy or opportunity. Some have spent the greater part of their youth on the paper chase or careers that required total commitment. They missed the chance to be wild, virile and silly – even if there had been clean rivers and park benches around back then.

What was romance like in the 1970s? Let me help this Malaccan uncle relive those moments…. watching the sunrise or the sunset by the beach… running on the sand and kicking the waves in slow motion… holding hands while scrambling up rocks… accidentally embracing or kissing… mesmerising each other with long stares. Yes, this is the stuff of romance in the 1970s. Let’s have Chelsea Chan and Liu Wen Zheng to help us visualise.

Above is Chelsea Chan’s version. The unusual thing about this movie is that both the lead actors were singers. That’s why Liu Wen Zheng had a go at the theme song too.

Many youngsters would find these videos puerile, but they capture the mood and spirit of a long-gone era. When the older fogies look back, they will certainly bring back sweet memories or fantasies of how things that could have or should have turned out.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Deadly Diamond

3 April 2002

It was late at night. Mr Wan brought his son to visit his sister-in-law Ms Yuen Soon Ying at her apartment. A day earlier, she had tried to contact his wife (her sister) but it so happened that Mrs Wan was hospitalised then. Detecting some uneasiness in her voice, he decided to pay her a visit to make sure that nothing was amiss.

His hunch was right. When he knocked on the door, there was no reply. Not only that, he detected a foul odour coming from within. Wan immediately called the police. When the police arrived, they forced their way in and found Yuen sitting on a sofa. Her wrists were wounded and she was barely alive. She was immediately rushed to hospital under police escort. Meanwhile, in the apartment, the foul odour was coming from the bedroom.

Inside, lying on the bed, was a human form with duct tape wound around most of its arms, legs and face. Apart from the duct tape, he was naked. His skin had turned black and the body was rapidly decomposing. Initial investigations revealed that there were no signs of injury on the body even though there was a blood-stained knife in the room and the sheets were soaked with blood.


39-year-old Yuen Soon Ying was a waitress. Neighbours described her as a petite, soft-spoken and attractive woman. She kept her hair long and often wore a ponytail which belied her age. Even though she was almost 40, she remained youthful and attractive. In 1988 when Yuen was 25 years old and still living in a village in Guangdong, she married Hongkonger Mr Chow, a man 11 years her senior. They had two children in Hongkong and in 1997, her permanent residency in Hongkong was approved. The family was happily united. Life was blissful at first. They bought a house and sent the kids to school. But Mr Chow started gambling and was soon heavily indebted. She also found out that he had been visiting nightspots and squandering their money. When she scolded him, he slapped her. From that moment, she made up her mind to divorce him.

Meanwhile, at the restaurant where she worked, a young chef from China had arrived. Also from Guangdong, Chan Wing San was not only tall and handsome but also gentle and courteous. He was not bothered by Yuen being 9 years older and nor did he care much about the sanctity of marriage. Even though he knew that Yuen was married with 2 children, he revealed his feelings to her. Unhappy with her marriage, Yuen soon started an affair with Chan. Coincidentally, Yuen’s husband Mr Chow declared bankruptcy not long after that. Yuen found a lawyer and began divorce proceedings. Chow expected Yuen to accept custody of the two children. When she rejected it, he realised that she had been having an affair with Chan and a divorce would suit her fine.

Yuen and Chan were finally free to cohabitate openly. It was a dream come true for both of them. But barely 10 days into their honeymoon, Chan was killed and Yuen was the prime suspect. How did it turn out this way? When questioned by the police, Yuen readily confessed to the murder. Throughout the trial, she was silent and prepared to accept the jury’s verdict. She was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

When swarmed by reporters, her ex-husband said that he was willing to wait for her no matter how long it would take. He admitted that it was his fault for making his ex-wife lose hope and abandon the family. Their children also said that they were willing to forgive their mother. But there was one person who smiled when the verdict was announced. She was Chan Wing San’s wife.


Chan Wing San was married in China since 1994. He had two daughters with his wife and he left them in Guangdong when he found work as a chef in Hongkong. When he first met Yuen Soon Ying, he lied to her that he was single. When she found out that he was married, he told her that he was already contemplating divorce. Yuen believed him as they had gone on overseas trips with Chan’s wife’s knowledge and he even paid for her legal fees when she divorced Chow. However, their actions were frowned upon by their colleagues at the restaurant. Immersed in romance, they ignored all the gossip and finger-pointing.

Diamond ring #engagementring

28 March 2002

Yuen and Chan took 2-days’ leave. The restaurant’s management was already familiar with them taking leave together, so they did not expect anything out of the ordinary to happen. The next day, Chan bought Yuen a diamond ring. Yuen was elated when she saw the ring. She expected Chan to begin divorce proceedings soon, but what Chan said next hit her like a ton of bricks. He wanted to break up with her. The diamond ring was not a pledge of eternal love. It was a form of compensation for the breakup.

Yuen was stunned. She couldn’t believe her ears. Afraid that he would just walk out on her, she spiked Chan’s soup with a sedative and hoped that he would change his mind the next morning. Chan felt groggy and was unable to go to work the next day. She spiked his soup with even more sedatives. That night, they made love and he told her that he would leave in the morning, Yuen was furious and totally lost her head.

She grabbed a roll of duct tape and started to wind it around his arms and legs. By then, the sedative had taken effect and Chan was too weak to struggle. He was soon bound and unable to move. When he asked her if she was trying to kill him, she started winding the tape around his head. Then, she pressed a blanket over him till he stopped moving. She stayed in the room and didn’t realise that he was dead until she felt that his body had turned stiff.

Yuen panicked when she realised what she had done. She decided to kill herself. She bled profusely when her wrists were cut but the bleeding soon stopped. She tried to call her sister, but her brother-in-law Mr Wan told her that her sister was not well and was in hospital. Not long after that, she passed out on the sofa. Sensing that something was amiss from the way Yuen sounded on the phone, Mr Wan decided to check on her the next day.

The murderer confessed her crime and walked us through the whole scene. The case was somewhat satisfactorily closed, but a mystery remains. Nobody will know why after going through all that trouble of courting her and paying for her divorce expenses, Chan would suddenly change his mind and break up with Yuen. Could it be someone else that he fancied? Why did he buy Yuen a diamond ring? Could he have escaped death if he had called off the relationship without first raising Yuen’s hopes? These are questions which will remain unanswered.

Story taken from 危险人物 by 翁静晶

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.