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  The Electric New Paper 11 Oct 07
Similar deaths, similar verdict
Coroner's court rules open verdict on two separate drownings
By Crystal Chan

BOTH men ended up drowning.

In both cases, no one knew exactly why.

For fisherman Lee Cheok Seng, 71, the morning of 24 Jun last year began like any other day as he set off early to trawl the waters off Pulau Ubin.

Soon after, tragedy struck when he fell into the water and drowned after a collision between his fishing boat and a ferry.

State Coroner Ronald Gwee on Monday recorded an open verdict because no one saw how Mr Lee fell into the water.

Except for age-related cataracts, Mr Lee, who had been a fisherman for 14 years, had no known medical problems.

Police investigations showed his boat was in working condition.

The ferry could not be tracked down, so it was not known how fast it was travelling and whether its captain had been negligent.

The inquiry report stated that about 7am, Mr Lee's boat passed that of fisherman Chia Ching Kim, 51.

A few minutes later, Mr Chia thought something was amiss when he could not see Mr Lee's boat anymore.

Mr Chia later spotted Mr Lee's blue fibre-glass boat, which had broken into two.

Another fisherman, Mr Kalar Teriong, 49, a Malaysian, saw MrLee's boat and the ferry colliding around 7am.

Mr Kalar, who had known Mr Lee for 20 years, told his son-in-law about the crash and the latter reported it to the police at 7.50am.

Mr Lee's boat wreckage was found 150m inside Malaysian waters.

The next day, his body was found in the Nenas Channel off Pulau Ubin by an Indonesian vessel.


In another case, Malaysian security guard Nordin Othman, 24, fell off a barge in Johor waters around 3.30pm on 10 Jun, 2004.

A colleague saw him in the water and threw out a buoy to try to save him.

But Mr Nordin disappeared underwater, and his colleague reported the incident at a police station in Kota Tinggi.

Malaysian police failed to find him. Two days later, the Singapore police coast guard retrieved Mr Nordin's decomposed body in Mano Buoy, near Bedok Jetty.

Mr Nordin had no visible injuries and was clad in dark-coloured jeans.

His family heard about the discovery of his body on 14 Jun, and contacted the police here.

Mr Nordin's cousin identified him based on his teeth, a scar on his head, as well as a necklace and three rings.

It could not be established how Mr Nordin drowned as he was a good swimmer.

State Coroner Ronald Gwee returned an open verdict as it could not be deduced how Mr Nordin fell into the sea.

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