After seven hours of deliberation, the jury found Malaysian professor Khaw Kim Sun, 53, guilty on Wednesday of murdering his wife of 23 years, Wong Siew Fing, 47, and their 16-year-old daughter, Lily Khaw Li Ling, by carbon monoxide poisoning on May 22, 2015, in Hong Kong.
- Long, unhappy marriage
- Wife aware of Khaw’s affair with his student
- No divorce as Khaw was afraid his wife would end up getting a share of his fortune
- Wife blamed herself for the demise of her marriage
- Judge called the killing a “calculated” murder, sentencing Khaw to the maximum life in prison
In the one-month trial, the court heard that Khaw and Wong had been estranged for years although they continued living under the same roof with their four children. He and his lover, Shara Lee, were together also for years, and even travelled overseas as a couple after his wife’s death.
Although Khaw and Wong discussed divorce, they never took that step. Wong told her yoga teacher that Khaw was afraid that if they divorced, she would end up getting a share of his fortune.
But Khaw gave a different reason to police.
“We felt that we could not cope with four children individually, which is why we decided to stay together as parents to look after the children and we have managed to keep our emotional difficulties away from the relationship.”
Khaw was a medical student in the United Kingdom in 1988 when he met Wong, a Malaysian nurse. They got married four years later.
The couple moved to Hong Kong in 1997 with their first child, daughter Khaw May Ling, who was born in the UK. Their two other daughters, Lily and Carly Khaw Ka Ling, and son, Khaw Ka Ming, were born in Hong Kong.
Khaw told police that he and his wife began drifting apart in 2007 and that they disagreed over how to raise the children. He said he was a strict father whereas she was too lax as a parent.
It was around that time that Khaw’s lover came into the picture.
Eldest daughter May Ling told the court that Lee became the children’s Chinese tutor in 2004 and would come to their home.
But Khaw claimed that he only met Lee after his relationship with his wife deteriorated.
Lee was also Khaw’s student at the Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, where she was doing a doctorate and he was her mentor. The pair worked together on at least 10 published academic articles.
Khaw claimed that they eventually got together in 2012. “I…was quite lonely and I found that she was a good companion and we became closer and closer,” he said in a police interview.
Lee, now an assistant professor of radiography at Polytechnic University, was never arrested, but she was a suspect during the police investigations because she showed up briefly while Khaw was conducting experiments with carbon monoxide.
Prosecutors said Khaw staged the experiments as a cover to obtain the carbon monoxide that killed his wife and daughter.
He left a gas-filled yoga ball in the Mini Cooper Wong drove that fateful day, with Lily in the car.
Khaw defended his lover strenuously when police asked about her role in the murders.
“I can vouch that she has got nothing to do with the investigation of this incident,” he told them.
His defence lawyer, Gerard McCoy SC, argued during his closing speech at the trial that Khaw’s affair should not be considered a motive because Wong had long accepted her husband’s extramarital affair.
Wong’s diary reveals she blamed herself for the demise of the marriage. She expressed deep regret at the failure of her relationship with Khaw.
She said she could have provided her husband and their four children with more.
“I didn’t listen when my husband tried to tell me he needed me,” she said in a diary entry from 2013.
She had failed to care for them or act as a “role model” to give them “the best in life”, she said.
In her diary, Wong lamented: “When I’m helping my kids with their homework, I’m impatient.”
She said she would also get angry easily when her children were clumsy.
“When my husband is talking to me, I am engrossed in watching television,” she wrote.
As a result, she said, Khaw had not been willing to take her to conferences for his work, and her children had refused to go to movies with her or even share their plans.
She also reflected on her childhood, revealing that arguments with her parents had made her reluctant to connect with others. Her mother used to teach her it was better to be loved than to love.
“I didn’t give anything back. I became selfish. I took and took,” she said.
But she was hopeful of change.
“I needed to…tell my children I loved them very much, that mummy was going to be more responsible from now on, be a caring person rather than an impatient one,” she wrote.
“I want to tell my husband that I’m going to be more responsible for my actions.”
She mentioned a long list of people she should be thankful for, including her family.
Some 26 times in the diary she wrote: “I am a passionate, committed and loving woman.”
Wong pledged to change but was deprived of the opportunity when she was murdered by Khaw in the back of her Mini Cooper on May 22, 2015.
The jury found Khaw had placed in the car a yoga ball leaking carbon monoxide, which he had obtained through a bogus medical experiment.
The judge called the killing a “calculated” murder.
Khaw, an anesthesiologist, was jailed for life on Wednesday after being found guilty by a unanimous verdict of murdering his wife and daughter Lily.