Any shooting incident in this little country of ours which has one of the strictsst gun laws in the world is always big news. But what makes the incident that I am about to narrate truly unprecedented and bizarre even is that it happened in broad daylight.
It happened around noon time in Queenstown, 18 September, 1972. A 22-year old seamstress by the name of Cheng Li Zhen (曾丽珍) was walking with her 19-year old sister Li Bao (丽宝) somewhere along Queenstown (I think it was Margaret Drive) when she suddenly gave a scream and collapsed on the ground. Blood was oozing from her chest. It was only after she was sent to the Singapore General Hospital that they discovered she had been shot. She died from her wound without regaining consciousness. She was from a small Malaysian town called Kluang.
I remember reading some criticism being levied against the policemen on the scene for being too shy to examine the wound which on her left breast; and thus not even realizing that it was a gunshot wound.
It was really big news at that time. And it is only recently that I was able to recall more details about this case because a friend gave me a copy of the Sin Min Daily’s 40th Anniversary Commemorative publication, and this was one of the archive items mentioned. I have tried searching for it at the National Library’s Straits Times archives but was not successful. Hope one of you readers can help out and let us have the link to any news articles about this case.
Anyway, X-ray showed that the bullet entered from her upper left chest and hit her heart. Initially, the police classified the case as ‘murder’, and suspected that the shooter was a sniper hiding in one of the high-rise buildings around Queenstown Circus or Stirling Road. Later, they confirmed that the bullet was a .22 calibre round and was probably fired from close distance from a handgun. But the trouble is, there were no witnesses and her sister did not see any shooter.
Another theory was that the round was accidentally discharged from a passing vehicle. Yet another theory that I recalled reading was that the round has gone off a weapon from the nearby Police Reserve Unit in Queensway when somebody was cleaning his weapon.
The case was later re-classified as an accident as the victim did not have any enemies and her family simply cannot think of anyone who would want to harm her.
Thirty-seven years have gone by and the case remains a complete mystery.
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