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Domestic CP - August 2005

Corpun file 16290


Straits Times, Singapore, 11 August 2005

Runaway brothers

Boy, 10, has fled family home thrice, twice with 8-year-old brother. And more under-12s are running away

By Tracy Sua


JEREMY is 10 and has already run away from home three times - twice taking his younger brother with him.

OBLIVIOUS: When they finally returned home, eight-year-old Chia Ying (left) and Jeremy, 10, seemed completely unaware of the worry they had caused. -- WONG KWAI CHOW

The brothers pulled their latest disappearing act over the National Day holiday - and all because their parents would not let them have bicycles.

Their family spent sleepless nights searching frantically at the boys' favourite haunts in Sembawang, Tampines and Pasir Ris after they ran away on Monday.

'Although they had stayed away from home before, they would always come home a few hours later, but this time they were away for more than 24 hours. I thought they might have been kidnapped,' said their father, assistant restaurant manager Tan Ching Toh, 33.

Their mother could not sleep or eat and their grandmother wept.

Yesterday, Jeremy Tan Chia Khee, 10, and Chia Ying, eight, were back with their family - and seemingly oblivious to the anxiety they had caused.

The brothers' antics are not all that uncommon. The Singapore Children's Society says runaways seem to be getting younger.


The boys' father said he hardly sees his two sons, because he works from 11am to 11pm and gets home around midnight. His wife works regular hours. Their grandfather has always taken care of the boys, said Mr Tan.

He said the boys had been caned and given lines to write, but the punishment did not seem to work. After the latest incident, the police suggested the family turn to a family service centre for counselling, he said.


Chia Ying and Jeremy slipped away with $200 they had taken from their parents. They bought two $69 bicycles and went to a park in Pasir Ris to try them out. They slept at the playground and got by on french fries.

After two nights sleeping under the stars, Chia Ying returned to his grandparents' home in Tampines yesterday morning. Police spotted Jeremy cycling near a block of flats in Pasir Ris about an hour later.

'We are so relieved but at first we wanted to get the police to put them in jail for three days, but my wife was against it,' said Mr Tan.

'But we will be keeping a closer watch over them.'

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