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Gag Order – Installment 17 – I Speak Singlish

Word had again spread that the victim, Lavinia Ying, will not take the stand. The public gallery was quiet except for a handful of family members and some sleepy retirees. Even the press had given the afternoon’s hearing a miss.

‘Mr. Phang, and the man you saw visiting Ms. Lavinia Ying at her apartment, can you point him out?’ Krasten turned to Bastien Tee, who sat hunched. Not able to raise the bail money, he remained in remand.

The witness, Mr. Phang, was well into his sixties. He wore a tie with a thick knot and with the smaller end peeping down to his low slung belt. An ill-fitting toupee completed the pathetic look. He pointed to Bastien and said,

‘He’s the one, but not dressed like that one. Last time, ah, he was stylo-mylo dressed, with long sleeves.’ Mr. Phang puffed himself and straightened his sleeves and added, ‘Like me, like that. Because you know or not, I was also once upon a time, ah, assistant manager, you know.’

Hearing his witness again go off the script, Krasten’s face twitched and he quickly said, ‘Thank you, Mr. Phang. No further questions Your Honor.’ He wished he could lean forward and remind the witness not to stray from the rehearsed answers, but the court layout confined counsel behind the desk while the witness was a good distance away in the dock.

Sakaris stood up with a gentle smile and said, ‘How are you, Mr. Phang?’

‘I’m fine and how are you?’

‘I’m doing fine as well and thank you, Mr. Phang. You said you were an assistant manager once. Which company?’

‘Aiyah, long ago lah! Now, retire already.’

‘Mr. Phang, the name of the company, please.’

‘Okay, okay, I think ah, yes, have you heard of Siang Woon Hardware Supplies, yes or no?’ He pointed a finger as if implying he had caught out the DPP.

‘Thank you, Mr. Phang, and yes, but only because of,’ said Sakaris and paused as he consulted his notes, ‘yes, because I have it here in the report filed by Inspector Peter Hong when he last spoke to you.’

Krasten and Wilona exchanged glances.

‘How long, how many years, did you work in Siang Woon Hardware Supplies?’ asked Sakaris.

‘All my life, until I retired. Those days ah, we all loyal one you know. Boss take care us, we take care of com-pa-ny.’

‘Of course, loyalty is an admirable quality,’ said Sakaris. Mr. Phang beamed and surveyed the court room as if to make sure all present had heard the compliment. The DPP continued, ‘But you did not retire in the normal sense of the word, did you, Mr. Phang? You left on medical grounds, a stroke. Is this correct?’

There were more worried exchanges between Krasten and Wilona. The unspoken words were, where was this leading?

‘Aiyah, overwork-lah, until stroke already,’ said Mr. Phang, and he crunched his face as if reliving the episode.

‘And because of that stroke, you suffer from,’ said Sakaris, and again dramatically paused as he consulted his notes, ‘vascular dementia. And you informed Inspector Peter Hong you’re on regular medication, Exelon, to treat this dementia.’

Krasten looked down and shook his head, ever so slightly.

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ***

*** Continued Wednesday 9 August: Suddenly, I Forgot ***