Baby and maid die in suspected murder-suicide in Singapore

Monday December 20, 2004

SINGAPORE (AFP) - An Indonesian maid jumped off a high-rise apartment after throwing a baby boy under her care down 23 storeys, the Sunday Times reported.

A spokesman for the police told AFP Sunday they were investigating the deaths of the 21-year-old maid, identified in the report as Sulastri, and five-month-old Yap Soon Heng.

Witnesses told the newspaper they had seen the maid sitting on the window ledge with the crying toddler on her lap.

"She was sitting there for about five minutes and kept turning her head back as if she was talking to someone inside the room," businessman John Chua said.

"Suddenly, she just extended her arms out and let the baby slip from her hands.

"A while later, she pushed herself off the ledge with the hands."

The last time an Indonesian maid killed a child under her charge was more than two years ago when Sundarti Supriyanto stabbed her abusive employer to death and set alight the building where the victim and her three-year-old daughter were in.

There are more than 140,000 domestic workers from mainly Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka in Singapore, and stories of employers abusing them and retaliatory acts frequently make the headlines.

Domestic workers are one of the few groups of people in tightly controlled Singapore unprotected by the Employment Act, which sets basic work rights.

However the government announced in July it would change some rules in an effort to end the tension between domestic workers and their employers, such as raising the minimum age of foreign employees from 18 to 23.