My apartment complex was the site of big news in Singapore. On 3 March, a helper fell to her death from one of the apartment towers at Draycott 8. Here is the story as reported by The Straits Times:
Mar 3, 2010
Maid Attacks Bosses, Jumps
A FILIPINO maid hit the head of her employer's wife with a clothes iron, then grabbed eight knives from the kitchen, cut her employers in a frenzied tussle, before plunging eight floors to her death.
This shocking tragedy happened on Saturday morning at Draycott 8, an upscale condominium on Draycott Park, off Scotts Road.
The 30-year-old maid had been working for a 47-year-old Caucasian and his 45-year-old Japanese wife for just a few months, according to Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao.
Wanbao said on the day of the incident, the maid seemed extremely agitated and suddenly attacked the boss' wife with the iron, causing her to bleed profusely.
Shocked by the maid's sudden display of violence, the couple tried to question her but before they could do it, the maid grabbed eight knives from the kitchen, and waved them by a window at the balcony, weeping and creating a din.
When coaxed by her employers to calm down, the maid turned on them instead, and stabbed them as they tried to bring her to safety. Moments later, she jumped off from the window as the shocked couple watched in horror. She died on the spot.
The couple was admitted to a hospital for treatment for minor injuries, and have since been discharged.
As an American, I am accustomed to reading detailed news stories. Having lived in New York before moving to Singapore, I had the luxury of choosing between three newspapers reporting on the day’s events: The New York Times, the Daily News, and the New York Post. No two articles were ever alike. Plus, I had the added bonus of the Post’s witty headlines, for example "HO NO!" for the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal. No doubt the Post writers would have hit a new low creating a headline for the tragic death, but this is a one-source town so there is no need to be sensational.
The expat community, the blog-o-sphere, and the foreign helpers have all jumped to conclusions about this Filipino woman’s death. Web postings and blogs reported on the death word-for-word as written in the article. (The Chinese newspaper is owned by The Straits Times.) My friends and friends of friends called and texted me to give their helper’s version: a seasoned pro putting her boy through school working for a tyrannical woman would not snap, would not jump. She was provoked, she was pushed. A café society blog wrote, “…employer had affair with maid, wife confronts the 2 of them, husband defends maid, wife picks up knife to attack husband, cuts herself in the process. Maid tries to help by throwing iron at wife, husband comes to his senses and throws maid off the building. Couple makes up story. The end.” A forum of Singapore residents wrote that this was a good example of why "it is better to hire Vietnamese helpers than Filipinos."
What really happened? I don’t know. They are my neighbors, yet I don’t know their names. The manager says, “We ask you and your helpers not to talk about it.” The doormen say, “These things happen.” No reporters hanging outside my gate for the inside scoop and no follow-up features. The story is, dare I say, dead.