By Chong Shin Yen
JUST a month before he allegedly stabbed his professor, Mr David Hartanto Widjaja complained to a friend that his final-year project (FYP) was 'hard and troublesome'.
Mr Widjaja, 21, a final-year electrical and electronic engineering student at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), had also stopped attending church.
A week before the incident, three of his church friends decided to visit him but they never got to see him as he was out shopping.
This was revealed by Mr Edwin Lesmana Tjiong, a friend of Mr Widjaja, at the coroner's inquiry into his death yesterday.
Mr Widjaja, an Indonesian, had fallen four storeys to his death at about 10.30am on 2 Mar.
He had allegedly stabbed Associate Professor Chan Kap Luk, 45, the supervisor of his FYP, in his office earlier that day.
Yesterday, Mr Tjiong, also an Indonesian who is in his final year at NTU, told the court that he got to know Mr Widjaja in Indonesia in 2004.
They became close friends and both came to study in NTU in July 2005.
Said Mr Tjiong: 'For the first three years of our studies in NTU, we met almost weekly.
'I always went to David's hostel to watch soccer matches with him.'
But in their final year, they met less often after Mr Tjiong moved to another hostel which had cable television.
Still, they communicated with each other through MSN Messenger and Facebook. The two of them would chat about online games, school work and church activities.
Mr Tjiong said that about a month before the incident, he had asked Mr Widjaja about his FYP.
'He told me that the project was very hard and troublesome. But he did not tell me the details,' said Mr Tjiong.
In the first semester of their final year, Mr Widjaja also told Mr Tjiong that he'd received a warning letter from NTU, saying that his Asean scholarship would be revoked.
Mr Tjiong asked Mr Widjaja why that was so, but he said he could not remember Mr Widjaja's reply.
He added that Mr Widjaja, who was a regular churchgoer, also stopped attending church.
That was when Mr Tjiong and two other church friends decided to visit him as they thought he might need 'some help and support'.
Said Mr Tjiong: 'David was not in his room and when I called him, he said he was shopping. I then asked if I could visit him soon, and he said 'no problem'.'
Another of Mr Widjaja's friends, Mr Nolang Fanani, also took the stand yesterday.
Mr Fanani, also an Indonesian, told the court that he'd seen Mr Widjaja about an hour before his death.
Mr Fanani, an NTU graduate, said: 'I was walking from my hostel when I saw David about 200m in front of me.
'He looked normal to me then, not in a hurry. I did not run after him and lost sight of him at a junction.'
Ms Lim Chin Chin, a forensic scientist with the Health Sciences Authority, told the court yesterday it was possible that the knife used to stab Prof Chan had also caused the 19 cuts found on Mr Widjaja's body.
Prof Chan had broken the blade from the handle during the alleged attack.
Tests showed that the knife handle contained only Mr Widjaja's DNA while the blade had both the DNAs of Mr Widjaja and Prof Chan.
Ms Lim said she did a 'breaking experiment' with a knife which was similar in dimension, model, brand and design to the one that was used to stab Prof Chan.
'The knife broke easily into two parts when bent. The breakage was found to be similar when compared to the two exhibits (the broken knife handle and blade),' said Ms Lim.
She explained that due to the design of the knife, there was an area of weakness at the point where the handle joined the blade.
'A simulation experiment indicated that such a knife breaks easily at the same region,' she said.
This article was first published in The New Paper.