Last Updated on 2023-01-08 , 6:19 pm
It’s hard to believe that someone can vanish without a trace on such a tiny island, but as many distraught parents know, this happens more often than we think.
A missing child causes so much pain not just because of the likelihood of foul play and abuse involved, but also because of the torturous uncertainty.
The now-cracked cold case of Felicia Teo Wei Ling, who went missing in 2007, has called to mind several other missing persons cases in Singapore.
Today, we’re going back over three decades to examine the mysterious case of the McDonald’s Boys.
Went Missing in Broad Daylight
On 14 May 1986, two primary 6 students from Owen Primary School disappeared in broad daylight.
The two boys, Keh Chin Ann and Toh Hong Huat, were close friends who were generally well-behaved.
That morning, Hong Huat had reportedly asked to go to school on his own that day as he was meeting a friend, presumably Chin Ann.
His mother thought this was odd, as Hong Huat was typically a shy boy who preferred to be with his mother.
This was the last time Hong Huat was seen.
At around 12.30 pm that day, Chin Ann left school to visit some shops nearby.
Wang Piwei, a classmate of the missing boys, had offered to “take care” of Chin Ann’s bag while he was away.
He left Chin Ann’s bag at the school’s tuckshop bench, assuming Chin Ann would come back to collect it, but he never did.
Both boys failed to show up for their 12.55pm class and were never seen again.
Police Search & Widespread Media Coverage
After the police were notified, officers scoured the estates surrounding Owen Primary School for days but found nothing.
Thousands of missing posters were reportedly distributed all over the country appealing for information on the whereabouts of the missing boys.
The case received widespread media coverage at the time as both the police and local media had publicised the case for several months following the boys’ disappearance.
In November 1986, the case was featured in the first episode of Crime Watch on Channel 5.
Reported Sighting at Pulau Ubin
On 27 August 1986, just over three months after the two 12-year-olds went missing, they were reportedly spotted at Pulau Ubin.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) dispatched close to a hundred officers to Pulau Ubin, splitting into 24 sections and smaller teams to search the offshore island, but to no avail.
Hong Huat’s mother, Madam Tan Geok Guan, travelled to Kuala Lumpur to look for her son, and reached out to several Malaysian organisations for help.
In 1987, the Singapore police extended their search for the missing boys to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, but couldn’t find the missing students.
The missing boys’ reports had also been sent to Interpol.
Nasty Phone Calls
On the night of 3 September 1986, Chin Ann’s father, Keh Cheng Pan, received a “nasty” phone call from an unknown caller.
The stress of the call reportedly triggered a stroke the next morning, and he was admitted to Singapore General Hospital for close to two weeks.
However, he couldn’t remember what the call was about, or who the caller was.
Madam Tan Geok Guan said that she too received a phone call on the same night.
“The caller was a man who spoke in Hokkien. He said I should not hope for my son’s return,” she told The Straits Times.
McDonald’s Offers Reward
Both families initially offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who could provide information about their sons’ whereabouts.
They had to continually raise this reward sum until it ballooned to S$20,000 in September 1986, as they were desperate for any useful information.
Mr Robert Kwan, founder of McDonald’s Singapore, announced that the company will be offering a S$100,000 reward for any information on the whereabouts of the missing boys.
They had also put up missing posters of the boys and publicised the reward at all the McDonalds’ outlets in Singapore, which was why the case was dubbed the “Missing McDonald’s Boys”.
34 years have passed and we sadly still don’t have an explanation for the boys’ disappearance.
There are, however, two theories.
Most would speculate that the two boys had run away, given their age, but this was rubbished by the parents, who told police it was “unlikely that the boys had run away from home.”
One theory asserts that Hong Huat’s estranged father had abducted the boys and brought them to Johor Bahru, Malaysia, where they now allegedly reside.
This is certainly plausible, considering Hong Huat’s parents were separated at the time, but it doesn’t explain why Chin Ann would be taken away as well.
Another, more horrific theory suggests that the two boys were abducted by a human trafficking syndicate and taken to Thailand, where they had their limbs amputated and were forced to beg.
But this theory, along with several others, has never been verified.
The case remains unsolved, and no new information has been brought forward.
The boys, if alive, would be 46 years old today.
If you have any information about the whereabouts of the two missing individuals, please contact the police or the Crime Library Singapore at 6293 5250.
Featured Image: owenprimary.wordpress.com
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