Demise of ‘Mr Big’ stirs memories of Singapore’s gangland earlier


SINGAPORE (News) – Early 1 Oct morning in 1969, Singapore police officers situated the human physique of a male dumped in a storm drain. He had been stabbed to loss of life, law enforcement reported, in what grew to grow to be a single of the country’s most infamous gang killings.

A newspaper clipping displaying the place in the vicinity of the junction of Singapore’s Bras Basah and North Bridge Road, exactly where by an assault on Oct. 24, 1969 led to the individual injury of nightclub singer Lim Kai Ho and the demise of Lam Cheng Siew (unseen). Roland Tan Tong Meng was preferred for the murder. Singapore Press Holdings/Shin Min Everyday Info by means of News

Just following a lot much more than 50 decades on the run, just one particular of the males wanted for the murder, Tan Tong Meng, died of a coronary heart assault in Denmark previous thirty day period, according to former police detectives, on line tributes and media evaluations.

The dying of one particular of Singapore’s most huge-profile gangsters, and reminiscences of the brazen 1969 mob hit, have revived interest in the town-state’s historical previous as a wellspring for organised crime – and stunned younger citizens with no understanding of that earlier in what is now regarded as a particular person of the world’s safest metropolitan regions.

Tan’s demise has also polarised view regarding these individuals who applauded his international ambition and several other people who loathe criminals in a nation exactly where by drug traffickers encounter the loss of life sentence.

Tan was 72, and also acknowledged as Roland Tan, or by his aliases – “Mr. Big” and “The Hainanese Kid”. He was the moment one particular specific of Singapore’s most storied fugitives and went on to operate a sturdy European drug trafficking syndicate out of Amsterdam, according to two former Singapore police detectives and media reports.

Tan’s loved ones customers did not respond to requests for remark and Singapore law enforcement did not promptly have remark. Dutch and Danish police declined to remark.

‘SINGAPORE At any time Acquired GANGSTERS?’

No matter regardless of whether revered or reviled, Tan has garnered new awareness in his residence metropolis.

“Wow such exceptional talent from quantity 1 … Singapore!” James Chan commented on a Might possibly 10 brief write-up about Tan’s demise in Singapore’s principal Straits Situations newspaper posted on Facebook.

“This type of track record, no thanks. Quite tiny to be proud of,” claimed Elliot Koh in just one particular of hundreds of other comments on social media internet-web sites and blogs.

A lot of guests didn’t look to be to know organised criminal offense had existed in the city-state: “Singapore at any time purchased gangsters meh?” study by means of 1 Fb create-up.

But some of these aged lots of to bear in thoughts when mob society thrived in Singapore in the numerous years ahead of and following the island attained independence from Britain in 1965 cautioned against romanticising the earlier.

“When I was young, I have witnessed a dude going round just about every single hawker stall amassing dollars. We require to hardly ever contemplate our safe and mafia no expense spot for granted,” reported commenter Wilfred Lee.

THE Story OF MR Significant

Tan’s funeral in Copenhagen on April 24 was attended by members of the Hell’s Angels, pics demonstrate. It was streamed on a individual Fb internet web page that is followed by hundreds of loved ones buyers and completely-wishers – several from Singapore – who would not have been in a position to journey to Denmark due to coronavirus lockdowns.

Photograph montages, such as photographs of an older Tan’s slight decide in vivid patterned shirts, a cigarette in hand, circulated on instantaneous messenger merchandise and solutions. A on-line video of a lavish birthday social gathering, the spot Tan stood much more than a 3-tier cake as business snapped photographs on smartphones, was significantly shared.

Tan, who escaped Singapore in the aftermath of Lam’s loss of life, was one particular specific of the country’s most preferred murder suspects in the 1970s with the police featuring S$two,000 for information principal to his arrest, a large sum at the time.

He fled to Amsterdam by making use of Malaysia and afterwards moved to Denmark specifically exactly where he married a Danish lady, according to media experiences, retired Singapore police detective Lionel de Souza, who investigated Tan, and a second former law enforcement supply who requested anonymity thanks to the sensitivity of the concern.

Tan ran a cafe in Copenhagen but moved to Cambodia following getting shot by his Vietnamese bodyguard in 2009, according to the second police supply and neighborhood media evaluations. He returned to Copenhagen final yr, the reports reported.


Singapore’s gang culture was derived from “secret societies” formed by Chinese settlers in Southeast Asia in the 1800s, explained Jean Abshire, a U.S.-primarily based mainly academic who authored ‘The Heritage of Singapore’.

Gangs incorporated in human trafficking, prostitution and drug smuggling nonetheless existed in Singapore right away following British rule ended but police crackdowns in the 1990s all but eradicated organised crime.

A photograph of Roland Tan Tong Meng printed in The Straits Occasions on April 16, 1970. Singapore Press Holdings/The Straits Occasions by way of Info

Some young offenders nonetheless revere much more sturdy cartels of the previous, according to a 2015 tutorial analysis centered on interviews with miscreants.

Lionel de Souza, the retired law enforcement officer who investigated Tan and other secret society members, stated that gangsters shouldn’t be glorified.

“It’s amazing riddance to poor rubbish,” he explained.

Reporting by Joe Brock and John Geddie A lot more reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard, Stine Jacobsen and Stephanie van den Berg Modifying by Kenneth Maxwell