Mystery surrounds identity of man who died at home as fingerprints not in national database

To add another twist to the case, investigations found the real Abdul Rahman Majid was alive and staying at a welfare home.

Nadine Chua

Nadine Chua

The Straits Times


The State Courts’ computer system listed the deceased as “unknown” and it was not stated how old the man was. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

July 19, 2023

SINGAPORE – When a man named Abdul Rahman Majid died at home from coronary artery disease in August 2022, the police took his fingerprints to confirm his identity.

Strangely, they did not match the prints of anyone listed in Singapore’s national database.

At the coroner’s inquiry into the man’s death on Tuesday, investigation officer (IO) Ng Yun Ning told State Coroner Adam Nakhoda the man’s sons were shocked when told their father’s name was not Abdul Rahman Majid.

In fact, the State Courts’ computer system listed the deceased as “unknown”. It was not stated how old he was.

To add another twist to the case, investigations found the real Abdul Rahman Majid was alive and staying at a welfare home in Buangkok.

So, who was the man who died?

IO Ng said that on Aug 5, 2022, the police received a call from one of the man’s sons who found his father had stopped breathing in the living room of their Geylang Bahru flat.

He was later pronounced dead.

There were no signs of a struggle and the deceased did not have any injuries.

The police first identified him as Mr Abdul Rahman Majid, which was the name stated in the youngest son’s birth certificate.

But red flags appeared.

There was no passport or NRIC belonging to the deceased found in the flat.

The man’s photo with the name “Abdul Rahman Majid” was found only on an old construction site pass and a UOB Plaza pass.

Besides the national database in Singapore, his fingerprints also did not match the prints of anyone in the databases of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Investigations found the real Abdul Rahman Majid has been staying in a welfare home since 1994, suffering from chronic schizophrenia.

When IO Ng showed the 69-year-old the photo of the dead man, he shook his head, indicating he did not recognise him.

When the unknown man’s fourth son and wife turned up in court on Tuesday, they were shown a photo of the real Abdul Rahman Majid. Both said they had never seen him before.

A police check into the deceased’s medical history showed that an Abdul Rahman Majid had received treatment at the Institute of Mental Health and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

But it was the real Abdul Rahman Majid who had gone to these hospitals, which meant there were no clear medical reports tagged to the deceased.

Blood tests did confirm the deceased was the biological father of his four sons.

He had another son, the eldest, who was given away at birth. The deceased’s wife and youngest son are schizophrenic.

To gather information about his identity, IO Ng said she spoke to a cleaner in charge of the block the deceased lived in for over 20 years. The cleaner recalled the man telling him to call him “Kassim”.

One of the deceased’s sons told the investigation officer that when the family lived in a rental flat in Hougang, a man who visited them had addressed their father as “Kassim”.

The IO told the court she also tried speaking to the deceased’s wife, but, as the woman suffers from schizophrenia, she could only respond by nodding or shaking her head.

State Coroner Nakhoda told IO Ng to investigate further.

She will have to contact relatives of the deceased’s wife to get more information, and check with the Housing Board on the registered tenants in the rental flats in Hougang and Geylang Bahru that the deceased and his family lived in.

State Coroner Nakhoda also instructed IO Ng to check with the Registry of Muslim Marriages and the Registry of Marriages for his marriage records.

Addressing the man’s son in court, State Coroner Nakhoda said he understood the family wants to know their father’s real name.

But he said this may not come to light, as previous investigations have yet to yield any clues to his identity.

Findings will be given at a later date.

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