Love, Loss and Pain

The family from China chose to settle in Singapore with hopes of a better life.

He got a job here, and his wife and elder daughter joined him later.

In 2002, their second daughter was born.

The family was granted citizenship the following year.

But 15 years after Mr Bao Xiaoming, 49, arrived in Singapore, their dreams were shattered.

At 7.17am on April 15, his wife, Madam He Xuejing, 45, and their younger daughter, Bao Peiqin, eight, were found lying on the grass patch behind Block 290B, Bukit Batok Street 24, where they live.

Witnesses said Madam He, a housewife, was motionless, but young Peiqin, a pupil at the nearby Keming Primary School, was gasping for air.

When the ambulance arrived at 7.46am, Peiqin had stopped breathing.

Paramedics pronounced mother and child dead at 7.52am.

At a coroner's inquiry yesterday, it was concluded that Madam He jumped out of her unit's window with the intention of ending her life.

It was also established that Madam He was carrying her daughter as she jumped.

Said State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid, referring to the young girl: "Madam He unlawfully caused her death."

What caused Madam He to leap out of the window of their 12th storey flat remains unclear.

What is certain is that Madam He loved her family very much.

She left three handwritten letters addressed to her husband, her elder daughter, Bao Peijia, 15, and her parents on a cabinet in Peiqin's bedroom.

The letters were dated April 12.

She started each letter by saying that she loved the person it was addressed to.

In the first, addressed to Mr Bao, Madam He wrote about their love and asked him to take care of himself and Peijia, whom she refers to as Jia Jia.

She also wrote in Mandarin: "I am about to leave with your beloved daughter Qin Qin. I have failed you. I have failed Qin Qin even more...

"I cannot bear to leave you. I love you very much and you are my true love."

She ended her letter with a request to be buried with her husband when he dies, signing off as "your wife who loves you deeply".

In her letter to Peijia, Madam He praised the Secondary 4 student, saying she was obedient and considerate.

She also encouraged her, saying that with the help of family members and psychological counselling, Peijia can "gradually walk out of the pain".

To her parents, Madam He asked that they take care of their health and thanked them for giving her a happy family. She also thanked them for respecting her decision to move to Singapore.

On the fateful morning of April 15, Mr Bao took Peijia to school before heading to a company function at Sentosa.

Before he left at about 6.50am, he asked Madam He if Peiqin was well enough to attend school as the latter had been down with a viral fever since April 13.

When Madam He said she felt that Peiqin was still unwell, Mr Bao checked in on his sleeping daughter before leaving. He rushed home after the police contacted him and sat by the grass patch where his wife and daughter lay.

Police investigations showed that Peiqin's bedroom windows were the only ones open in the three-bedroom executive apartment, and that a black chair was found beside the open window.

A pair of pink slippers, which Mr Bao later confirmed to be his wife's, was left next to the chair.

When contacted yesterday afternoon, Mr Bao declined to comment.

Mr Bao, a researcher at the A*Star Institute for Infocomm Research, arrived in Singapore in 1995 and got his employment pass in January 1996.

Madam He arrived the same year, leaving Peijia in the care of Madam He's parents in China. Peijia came over in 1999, and the family moved into their current flat in December last year.

No unhappiness

Even though Mr Bao told investigating officers that there was no unhappiness, quarrels or problems within the family, he said Madam He became more agitated over seemingly trivial matters late last year.

He also said Madam He frequently spoke of their behaviours and mannerisms, saying they did not assimilate into local culture.

That was unlike their initial years in Singapore, when Madam He was very positive about adapting to the local lifestyle. She had even told him that she considered Singapore to be her home.

But she later began losing her enthusiasm to stay here, Mr Bao said.

Once, he recalled, Madam He deliberately did not send Peiqin to school as a test to see if the school would call to check on the girl.

When the school did not call, Madam He concluded that the school did not welcome their daughter and told Mr Bao that the child should return to China.

An autopsy showed that the cause of death for both deceased was due to multiple injuries, which is consistent with a fall from height.

This article was first published in The New Paper.