Last Friday (21 Jan), Ashton and Ethan Yap, aged 11, passed away in an unnatural and tragic manner at Toh Yi, Upper Bukit Timah.
The two young boys were discovered in the canal near the Greenridge Crescent playground.
Owing to the shocking and aberrant nature of this tragedy, there has been an outpouring of condolences to the young boys over the weekend.
6 Religious Groups Holding an Inter-Faith Prayer Session
A session to pray and grieve for the eleven-year-old twin boys was put together on short notice, and it was attended by a myriad of representatives from different religious faiths in Singapore.
They include Immam Md Idiris from Al-Huda Mosque, Venerable Rui Zhen from Beeh Low See Buddhist Temple, Father Francis Lim from the Church of St Ignatius, Reverend Roy Koh from Glory Presbyterian Church, Mr Gan from Ling Xuan Services, and Mr Kari from Sri Arasakesari Sivan Temple.
Sim Ann, the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC) attended the session as well.
Opened to the Public
Before the prayer session began, Ms Sim imparted that this inter-faith session was put together swiftly after consulting neighbouring volunteers.
It was organised to give people a chance to grieve quietly and privately on the spot, and to wish peace upon the young souls that had perished.
More details about the solidary and mournful session were provided on Sim Ann’s Facebook post later that day:
At the session, Ms Sim also said: “Two days ago, during the evening 21 January, the community here at Greenridge Crescent was startled by the realisation that something terrible had happened at this very playground.
“The turn of events has only deepened our community’s collective grief and horror,” she adds, following the revelation that the father had been involved in the demise of the boys.
“The idea of the untimely demise of two young children is heartbreak even for those of use who do not know them personally, and it is especially heart-breaking for those of us who are parents.”
According to the Straits Times reporters, more than 20 people were present at the session as well, whilst maintaining social distancing measures.
A Cascade of Condolences
A day after news broke out regarding the death of Ashton and Ethan Yap, members of the public continued to line up by the large canal to give offerings, light candles, and place down mourning flowers.
On one of the signs, handwritten on a flower cut-out of a plate, read: “May you souls rest in peace, and give your family closure. No one deserves this, we mourn as one. God bless your souls and your family. Rest in Peace, little angels. Always Remembered.”
There were rows of flowers, ranging from white roses to yellow chrysanthemums, yellow candles lit with traditional chinese food offerings for the two young boys.
Even online, there were more than 300 comments offering their condolences with heartfelt messages and solemn candles flickering.
The tragic news was shared amongst more than 7,800 netizens as well, and even more, if the newsfeed articles are taken into consideration.
The Simmering Unrest
However, with the newest revelation that the father had been charged with the murder of Ethan Yap, with more investigation needed to understand what happened to Ashton Yap, it has brought forth a lot of emotions and unanswered questions.
On that day, a father took the life of his son, an act which might have shattered him with guilt, such that it made him report the case himself later that evening.
A mother grieves for her broken family, for the loss of her twins, and an absent husband who is in custody for the transgressions against his own flesh and blood.
Perhaps the Facebook post from Death Kopitiam Singapore really hits the core of the issue in their Facebook Post:
“We don’t have the answers. Neither can we bear to think why this has happened, and we can only, in hindsight, ask for a different outcome.
“But the stigma around children with special needs has to be erased. Our personal stereotypes, often borne out of ignorance, and societal attitudes towards special needs and physical disabilities must change.
More respite and support, emotional and financial, needs to be provided to parents and carers so that today’s tragedy will never ever visit another family.”
SG Enable, an organisation that falls under the Ministry of Social and Family Development, offers their condolences publicly as well, while adding another insight into this troubling situation:
“Caring for children with special needs can be stressful and caregivers may face burnout or feel emotionally burdened. It is important for caregivers to look after your well-being.”
This statement does not dissolve Xavier Yap’s burden of guilt for the crimes he committed, nor does it grant him any forgiveness, but it is something to keep in mind as there are underlying issues to the incitement of such a tragedy.
More Can Be Done
The demise of Ashton and Ethan Yap, a pair of twins with special needs due to their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism, are not singular or unique cases.
In 2017, the case of an intellectually disabled woman being tortured to death had similarly sparked outrage online.
From 2016 to 2020, the incidences of seniors and persons with disabilities have almost doubled.
There are 209 cases of vulnerable adults being investigated in 2019, which was an increase from 199 cases in 2018, and it is double of the 107 cases in 2016.
Physical abuse and neglect towards these people with special needs is not as uncommon as we would like to believe it is, and it is a problem that the Singapore society needs to face eventually.
This tragedy is a wake-up call; a reminder that more needs to be done to provide a more comprehensive system to help those with disabilities, as well as an increased sensitivity and general understanding towards this category of people.
Should you need help, or require assistance in helping those closest to you who endure some kind of disability—which does devalue or demean them in any way, because neither parties have ever asked for such a condition but must live with it—know that there are support groups in place.
A link to a comprehensive list of contacts and websites can be found here.
Once more, towards the two young boys who have passed, may you rest in peace.
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Featured Image: Facebook (Sim Ann 沈颖)
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