Woman arrested for abandoning baby at Tai Keng Gardens
Witness recounts unusual find in recycling bin as police arrest suspect believed to be the newborn's mother
An Indonesian woman has been arrested for allegedly abandoning her newborn baby in a recycling bin.
The baby boy was found on Monday night by residents in Tai Keng Gardens, a private estate near Upper Paya Lebar.
The 29-year-old suspect, who is believed to be the mother of the child, is expected to be charged today.
A 65-year-old businessman, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lew, had reportedly found the infant in the bin outside his home.
He said the baby appeared to be weak when they found him, and ants were crawling on his skin and appearing to bite him.
"The baby's hands and feet were white, and he looked very weak. It could have been worse if he had been found half an hour later," he told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao.
Mr Lew said his family had just finished their dinner on Monday evening when his son-in-law heard a strange noise while smoking near the bin.
"He heard a faint noise from the bin and thought it was a cat or something so he asked us to have a look.
"But when I opened the lid, we discovered it wasn't a cat at all but a baby."
The abandoned infant, who was wrapped in a towel, was inside some paper bags, he added.
They tried to lift him out of the bin, but the bags started tearing at the bottom. So they tilted the bin to get him out and removed the towel from his face to allow him to breathe better.
Mr Lew told The Straits Times: "He was crying loudly so my wife started to console him and he quietened a bit. Perhaps he knew that his life was saved."
The family, who then alerted the police about their unusual find, said they will never forget his cries.
The baby, who had no visible injuries, was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital in an ambulance.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) told The New Paper last night that it was aware of the case.
"The baby is currently safe and under observation," she said.
"MSF Child Protective Service (CPS) is looking into the immediate care arrangements for the child while the police investigate the case."
She added that the child may be placed under the care of a foster parent during the period of investigation.
If the child's parents or extended family cannot be traced or are assessed to be unable or unwilling to provide appropriate care for him, CPS will explore alternative care arrangements, including adoption.
In a news release yesterday, the police said they were alerted to the incident at about 7.45pm on Monday.
They arrested the suspect yesterday after establishing her identity through extensive ground investigations and footage from security cameras provided by the estate's residents.
"The woman is believed to be the mother of the child and the police are looking into the identity of the child's father," said the statement.
"The police would like to express our appreciation to the members of the community who provided valuable information which aided investigations and contributed to the arrest."
The woman is expected to be charged with exposure and abandonment of a child under the age of 12. If convicted, she can be jailed for up to seven years or fined, or both.
Fewer than 20 babies were found abandoned in Singapore in the last decade, The Straits Times previously reported.
The abandonment of babies here is rare, with none reported to MSF in 2015, two in 2016, none in 2017 and 2018, and one in 2019, said its spokesman.
The Tai Keng Gardens baby is already the third abandoned baby found so far this year, said MSF.
Only one of the other two abandoned babies was reported in the media.
The male infant was found in a wet and bloody supermarket plastic bag inside a rubbish bin by two cleaners at Block 543 Bedok North Street 3 on Jan 7.
They were collecting rubbish from the refuse chute when they heard crying from one of the bins.
The baby was taken to hospital and subsequently placed under the care of foster parents.
The MSF spokesman said he is still with the same foster family and CPS is looking into longer-term care arrangements.
A 26-year-old Singaporean woman, believed to be the mother, was later arrested and charged.