58-year-old Mr Kuek Chwee Seng was just climbing up the stairs to his flat after breakfast on Wednesday when he spotted the last thing he expected to find on a staircase landing — a newborn baby.
Nestled in a white T-shirt and towel and lying quietly in the corner of the staircase landing between the second and third floors of Block 105 in Jalan Bukit Merah was a newborn with his unbilical cord still attached.
The cleaner was shocked and said he feared for the child’s safety.
“I have never seen such a case before,” he said. “There was a lot of stray cats in the area, and the baby was so small. I was afraid the cats would bite him.”
Unsure of what to do
Police confirmed that they received a call at 11.20am that morning informing them that a baby boy was found at the block.
Mr Kuek, who lives on the third floor, said he eventually approached a staff member at the seniors activity centre in his block for help as he did not have a phone and was unsure of who to call.
“There are a lot of people there. They would know what to do,” he said.
A programme assistant at the centre, Miss Yuki Teo, 29, accompanied the centre manager and Mr Kuek to look for the baby. They also contacted the Civil Defence Force.
The baby was later taken to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Few use the stairs
The trio did not dare touch or move him while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
A volunteer at the seniors activity centre said, “The lift stops at every floor, and there are four of them. Few people climb the stairs. The stairs where the baby was found was seldom used.”
Mr Kuek described the baby: “He was very pinkish, but he was very clean. One part of the umbilical cord was still attached and the other end was tucked under his body.”
Child abandonment carries a jail term of up to four years and a fine if the child is alive. If the child dies, it carries a jail term of up to seven years and a fine.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, revealed that an average of three babies were abandoned alive each year, from 2005 to 2009. The number has not increased in recent years.
A network of pregnancy support services has been established in Singapore, including a 24-hour toll-free MUM-TO-BE helpline manned by social workers to counsel distressed mothers. Those in need of assistance can call 1800-686-86-23.
Young mothers can also seek help via the Babes service set up for teenagers in pregnancy crises. Teenage mothers can SMS 8111-3535 for confidential counselling.
Photo courtesy of m24digital