[Above: Mr Tang Jun Han (left) and his father outside the police station.]
|Victim's family says yes to S$100,000 deal
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By Vivien Chan reporting from Phuket
THE tanned young man, seated on a wooden bench, looked forlorn and tired.
Dressed smartly in a fitted white shirt, beige pants and black dress shoes, Mr Tang Jun Han looked out of place in the two-storey police station, where casually dressed tourists and locals were filing complaints of petty crimes.
But the 20-year-old Singaporean had much weighing on his mind and heart when The New Paper team met him at the Kathu Police Station near Patong Beach in Phuket yesterday morning.
Mr Tang was involved in a jet-ski collision on April 2 that killed his close buddy, Mr Loh Ying Jie, also 20.
They were on holiday there with three of their best friends. Mr Loh died in a Singapore hospital 11 days later.
Mr Tang, whose passport was retained by the police, remained in Phuket to help with investigations.
He faces the possibility of criminal charges, which comes with a jail term, in connection with the accident.
Both his and Mr Loh's families had been locked in negotiations over compensation for expenses incurred by the latter's family as a result of his death.
Mr Loh's family told The New Paper last night that the families finally reached a deal for $100,000.
The money is for expenses such as hospital bills, funeral expenses as well as the family's airfares to and from Phuket.
Patong police chief Superintendent Arayapan Pukbuakao told The New Paper earlier that Mr Tang may not be put behind bars if he helps with the "funeral expenses".
A lawyer in Phuket also said that Mr Tang may face less serious charges if both families can agree on an amount for compensation. So will the $100,000 deal save Mr Tang from jail?
At their Phuket hotel last night, Mr Loh's brother-in-law, who declined to be named, said: "We wish to clarify that we never initiated any talks, we never asked for any compensation.
"It was the Thai police who said that both parties have to sit down and discuss the compensation."
The Lohs then consulted Thai lawyers, who advised them to include all expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
The first negotiation, on April 6, was attended by Mr Loh's father and brother- in-law.
Mr Loh's brother-in-law said: "At that time, we were told Ying Jie was going to be in a vegetative state and he had an almost zero chance of waking up.
"We were told to include costs like upbringing costs, loss of possible future earnings and nursing costs."
The calculation came up to almost a million dollars. Thinking that was too much, the family asked for $500,000.
The brother-in-law said: "They (the Tang family) said it was a reasonable amount, but told us they could not come up with that. They counter-offered with $100,000."
The Lohs turned it down, as they thought it was not enough for expenses that might be incurred in the future.
Then Mr Loh died on April 13.
After the funeral, the family went to Phuket on April 18 for another round of talks.
Mr Loh's brother-in-law said: "We asked the (Tang) family for $100,000. We already spent $74,000 and we had bills to substantiate it. The remaining $26,000 is for the miscellaneous items and our compensation."
Mr Loh's mother added in anguish: "Is it too much to ask for $26,000 in compensation for a life?"
Her son-in-law added: "We said we just wanted to settle and let it go. We're also concerned for (Jun Han's) future. He's a friend of Ying Jie, who was a very forgiving person."
But the Lohs claimed the other family rejected the $100,000 offer and offered $80,000 instead. The meeting ended after an hour.
But yesterday morning, the Tangs agreed to pay $100,000. At noon (Singapore time), they transferred the money to the Lohs' account, the Lohs said.
Both parties then went to the police station to sign a statement stating that they had agreed on a "compensation" amount of $100,000, and that the Lohs would not pursue a civil suit.