by: Ravi Philemon/
I wrote the opinion piece, "The unbearable yoke of the cornerstone called family", after pondering quite a bit on the story "Woman arrested over death of five-year-old boy".
I had read the print verson of the article in the newspaper available in my office. But by the time I reached home and tried looking up the article online (as I do not subscribe to the print version but the digital version of the newspaper), so that I can reference the article in putting my thoughts to paper (figuratively of course), I realised that although google search, and even ST digital's search engine throw up the link to the article, the link itself leads you to an error page.
What was readily available instead, was another article, "5-year-old boy found dead in flat" (dated 4th July 2011).
Of course the facts of the case pertaining to the crime scene and the circumstances leading to the death of the 5-year-old, where all there in this article. But what was missing in it was the state of mind of woman arrested in connection with the death.
The article which went to print on July 5th reads:
"...she could not cope with taking care of the children as they were "playful" and that she was tired and stressed...the $40 a day she earned working from 5pm to 1am was insufficient. Her employer, Mr Eng Chor Huat, 50, said she was hard-working and seemed happy at work. He added that she liked to relax before heading home after work. Recently, the woman apparently left the older boy at home and took the other one to her workplace."
Because the article which is readily available does not have the facts on the mental and financial state of the aunt, it becomes very easy to paint the aunt as some kind of monster who ill-treated and killed her defenceless 5-year-old nephew.
And it is not too far-fetched to think that those who read the truncated version of 4th July will put the blame squarely on the aunt, without considering that it was the system which placed two at-risk children in the care of a vulnerable adult, all because of the philosophy they must adhere to, that the the family "should be the first line of support in our social safety net if the individual needs help".
Read the print version of the ST article dated 5th July HERE.
Read the ST article dated 4th JulyHERE.
Note: This article was edited on July 6, at 11.30 pm after it was first published because The Straits Times did not revise the July 5 article, but made it less readily available by changing the permalink to it, and by burying it in the ST Digital archives.