SINGAPORE — A woman who had overstayed in Singapore since 2013 was trying to escape from a raid by climbing through her room window when she fell to her death last year, a coroner found.
Gong Xiuxian, a 41-year-old woman from China, worked as a private masseuse from her home and sold apparel at market stalls. She had entered Singapore on 19 December 2013 and was granted a 30-day visit pass to remain in Singapore.
Her death on 2 November last year was pronounced an unfortunate misadventure by Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam in her findings issued last month.
Gong had remained in Singapore after her visit pass expired and managed to avoid apprehension and detection by the authorities until officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) knocked on the door of her fourth-floor unit at Eunos Crescent.
ICA officers received an anonymous complaint in October last year about Gong overstaying in Singapore since 2013. A team of eight ICA officers then conducted a raid on Gong’s two-bedroom unit on 2 November last year at about 5.15am.
One officer was deployed as the front cordon, and he was stationed at the ground floor facing the front of the HDB block to report movement observed in the unit.
Another officer, Inspector Safarin Sujae, was deployed as the back cordon and stationed at the ground floor facing the back of the block, also to keep track of movement in the unit.
The remaining officers who raided Gong’s unit then saw a sub-tenant of the unit, Yang Qing Mei, leaving and intercepted her. Yang was later established to have a valid work permit.
Once officers entered the unit, they proceeded to shut the windows to prevent the occupants from escaping. However, Gong’s room was locked from inside.
Inspector Safarin then saw movement in her bedroom, and saw Gong climbing out of the window and sitting on the aircon compressor unit outside. Gong closed the window in front of her and attempted to climb down to the ledge below, with her back facing Inspector Safarin. The inspector thought that Gong intended to hide on the ledge below the aircon compressor to evade arrest.
Inspector Safarin then shouted at Gong to alert her to his presence, hoping that she would climb back into her bedroom. However, Gong lost her footing and fell from the fourth storey ledge to the foot of the block. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 6.40am, with her death determined to be from multiple injuries consistent with a fall from height.
It is unclear if Gong heard Inspector Safarin’s shouts or if the shouts caused her to be alarmed and panicked resulting in her fatal fall.
The team leader testified in court that it is the practice of the raiding team to shout a warning to anyone trying to escape through a window, to alert them to the presence of the officers.
The officers stationed on the ground would likewise shout or shine a light in the direction of a person trying to flee so that the person would realise that that he or she is surrounded and would abandon the escape attempt.
Gong’s brother stated that the family had not seen Gong since she left China for Singapore in 2013. While the brother was unfamiliar with what Gong did in Singapore, he understood that she was a clothing retailer.
Gong had initially sent money home, but in the period leading up to her death, she had been asking her family for money. Her family advised her to return home and Gong agreed, but her plans to return were delayed due to the travel restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gong said she would return as soon as the situation improved.
Her brother last spoke to her on 31 October last year. He was not aware that his sister had overstayed.
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