Some thoughts regarding the case of Rebecca Loh
June 25, 2013, 1:40 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

LohChuiLai01eRebecca Loh (pictured left), the mother accused of murdering her nine-year-old son, has been certified to be of sound mind and fit for court proceedings. If found guilty of murder, she will be sentenced to death.

Rebecca’s case is a perfect example of what non-inclusive policies towards certain members of our society (i.e., single mothers, persons with serious medical conditions/ disabilities/ special needs) may result in. A State can never erase its mistakes by hanging victims of its failed policies. It needs to reflect on how its policies can be made more inclusive so that people have enough supportive network(s) to ensure that they will not fall through the cracks.

It is time our government exercises a more reflective attitude and see how their policies have failed to serve the needs of various groups in our society, resulting in the marginalisation of these groups. As mental and psychological resilience vary from person to person, I am not saying that everyone who belongs to the marginalised groups will definitely come to such a fate. However there is always a possibility, especially when one does not know where or who to seek help from and what the future may bring.

As an educator, I have met several parents and single parents with children who are disable and/or require special education. The truth is, these parents are constantly worrying about the future of their children. Although many of them are able to overcome their worries or handle it more positively, some have expressed to me that they will never die in peace should their children over-live them because (to quote one of them) “Who will take care of H after I am gone? People in this society will end up taking advantage of a person like him because they have no compassion and time to be patient with anyone who thinks and acts slow”.

It is heartbreaking, but life for some of these parents takes on a different reality from many of us. If the policies of the system do not fully consider their plight and circumstances, the court must, because they are made up of judges who are human beings themselves.

This is how I see it, but I understand that there are many different perspectives out there, with some calling her a cold-hearted murderer who should be sent to the gallows. I cannot and do not intend to take away their right to form opinions, but I wish to call upon this group of people to put themselves in her shoes and see the reality from where she stood –  a single mother living with financial difficulties, who had a child diagnosed with liver disorder and could not move around independently – what would you have done?

To clarify, I am not attempting to find excuses to dismiss the seriousness of the deed, but to appeal to all of you to consider her plight, background and the factors that might have compelled her to do what she had allegedly done. Does she need help, or should she be sent to the gallows? What do you think you will need, if you were in her situation?

Please, do take some time to think about it.


19 Comments so far
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Comment by OUTE

A brave single mother in Singapore speaks out.

The pain of single mothers worrying for their children’s future is caused by the PAP refusing to see them as equals and human beings. Do single mothers pay any less tax? Do their children serve any less NS? Why must PAP punish them when it is so hard to make a living in Singapore?

Comment by LY Lim

I see you are one of the few who spoke out for this poor woman who deserves more sympathy and help from the state and the community. Certainly not police action. The fact that this woman chose this course of action meant that she has ran out of options and this was the last resort. So sad that she stood alone in this cruel harsh little red dot of many millionaires.

Comment by pumpkin

My heart goes out to Rebecca Loh.I know what she has done sounds fact it is horrendous!!! I mean,what kind of mother murders her child? But there’s a part of me that feels extremely sad for her. Being a single mum is difficult enough,especially in Singapore,but being a single mum with a child with special needs is a totally different story.The policies of our system do not make it any easier for these mothers.

Comment by Ann Ow

Just do not understand why the gahment insisted on hiring Pinoys for the very simple job as a call center operator.I have wrote in to Tan that this industry should be for the elderly singaporeans with low up a call center and tell me does it make sense to give away thousand of jobs to Ftrashes,but depriving and driving sinkies to grave desperation?Hopefully,during the trail,Rebecca will shed some light and bring hopes to others singaporean from the darker side in Singapore.

Comment by HPL awakening

They been playing this game so very well through the year.They slaughter and murder the ones who look up to them with their vote.During the Print Press era,they are known as a group of no nonsense politicians who have no qualms of taking a life to up their international standing!Killing and Punishing the ones who supported them,Biting the hand the feed them….Ungrateful Party.Hope more singaporeans will pick up the book “once a jolly hangman” .It is clearly an insight into the dirty dealing and inhumane preference practice on a human life. Sinkies parents should pray very very hard that the realization of such inhumane preference will not hit them one day with their own children especially, with so many maid around.

Comment by HPL awakening

I like your post. As a parent, I dare say no parent will want to harm their child, so i can only imagine the darkness that drove her to it. Her story is totally heart breaking, and i can only say i hope the law remembers that she is human too. I totally agree with you on the importance of a strong support system. In taiwan, we visited special needs centres where kids and parents come for therapy after school. The state pays half the fees, and there are trained teachers there to support them. there is no stigma. In many sense, the Singapore envisioned by the PAP is too Darwinistic. It is as though if u are born with special needs, and if your family cannot support you, it is because you are not ‘meritocratic’ enough to make it in Singapore and therefore do not fit in or do not deserve help.

Comment by hanjeremy

Well said.
I would like to share that, being single mother is not an easy task.No parent will want to hurt their kids.
As a single mum, there are lots of hurting suitations to handle with, like the school’s teachers & the society preceptions & acceptances. The poor kids will suffer too, especially from the discrimation by the school teachers & peers, as these kids tends to think more & quiet, so they always get blame or boycott.

Comment by Elaine

This tragic case reminds me of the plight of the parents of a child with autism. The mother once confided in me that her husband and she had decided that when the right time comes they would all commit suicide together. They had made this decision because they believe that no one will take care of their child when they are gone.

Our government has failed and continues to fail people with additional needs and their caregivers, and in the face of the consequences of its failed and unfair policies, it chooses to punish the victims rather than help, empathise, and amend its flawed policies.

Comment by roni63

Dear Rachel, thanks for speaking out for Rebecca. As a stay at home mum, I fully understood the frustrations and demand of taking care of one’s children, what more a special child.

Is there any organization that could reach out and help her ?

Wish there is some kind of support group for her…

Comment by Hsq

I have said before that she is not mentally unsound. Because she figured out that it’s easier for her son to die instantly, rather then to slowly let him die from liver failure. If she can reason, she is not insane. Depression does not make her safe.

But for the love of God and also partially due to the failure of conventional treatment aka organ transplant, if this happens, I will plead and write for her to be jailed instead. May be we need a public petition. What do you think?

Comment by kelly

P.S. You have a very kind heart and I can feel it in my bones! May God bless you!

Comment by kelly

to be jailed and prolong her suffering and guilt. Let her join her son in another realm of peace and calm. let her go.

Comment by Eddie Tan

This case reminds me of Flor Contemplacion who was obviously insane when she killed her best friend and a little boy in her care. She was either certified as of sound mind or not even examined by psychiatrists anyway – and was hanged despite appeals from all around the world including the Pope. But the leadership of PAP – notorious for having ice in its veins – were determined to hang this woman whose mind snapped having been worked like a slave for 18 hours a day for three years without a proper break – even a single day off! When I was researching my book Once a Jolly Hangman I heard a rumour that the little boy was the grandson of Goh Chok Tong. Couldn’t prove it because the little boy nor his parents were not named. Let’s hope Rebecca Loh does not suffer the same fate as Flor at the hands of her bloodthirsty masters.

Comment by Alan Shadrake

I believe many thoughts go to her mind and it must not be easy for her too. Death sentence is not what she should be given. In our society this kind of help is limited. Hope there is another option for her instead of death sentence. To her is guilt to kill, a relief to see her child no longer suffered

Comment by Lian

If I’m in her situation, I certainly wish that someone trained can look after the child while I’m away at work.

Apparently, she couldn’t get such help from friends and relatives. So the natural assumption is to place the son in a daycare with trained professionals… at a cost which probably is beyond her paycheck. So the question is this-are there any daycare centres for children with special needs that doesn’t cost much? I suppose there are but perhaps too few. Those that would be receiving government funding would probably have to go through rigorous means testing, background checks etc which will eventually put off a lot of people with genuine needs-people who are likely to be low wage workers with little or no education.
So, whither Singapore, with our economic success?

Comment by ape@kinjioleaf

Reblogged this on A place to rant and commented:
Example of some people who’ve fallen in between the gaps of our society. It’s really sad to see this happening.

Comment by adelinechng

What is the status of Rebecca Loh’s case? Is she receiving any help? When will be the verdict? I really hope she will be fine. Having to kill her own son out of desperation and extreme stress & distress was bad enough. She does not need any more punishment and pain to her already painful life.

Comment by Angela Mafia

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