Mother of A*Star researcher worried about her constantly: Tenant

The mother of an A*Star scholarship holder accused of poisoning her schoolmates in a Stanford University laboratory constantly worried about her, said a female tenant who lives with the family.

Ouyang Xiangyu, 27, allegedly mixed paraformaldehyde into the drinking water of her peers on multiple occasions last year. She has been charged in a US court.

"Her mother always said she (Xiangyu) was very stressed. She kept telling her to exercise more, rest more," said the tenant, a Chinese national who rents a room in the Ouyangs' four-room flat in Clementi and declined to be named.

Ouyang had won two scholarships to study overseas based on her strength in the sciences.

She was awarded a National Science Scholarship from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) in 2009, after completing her A levels at Temasek Junior College.

With it, she went to Imperial College London, where she studied biochemistry. Two years later, her outstanding academic achievements placed her on A*Star's Chairman's Honours List.

In 2013, she took up a second scholarship from the research agency for her PhD, and enrolled in Stanford University, where she was part of its medical school's cancer biology programme.

Her father, who declined to be named, told The Straits Times yesterday that he would have sent his daughter for treatment had he known she was sick.

But he declined to say more, adding that he does not know anything as only his wife is in the US with their daughter now.

The tenant - one of four living with the family - said yesterday that Ouyang's mother makes frequent trips to the US to be with her daughter. She added that the mother flew over again about a week ago.

Another tenant, who has lived in the flat for six months and wanted to be known only as Ms Wu, said Ouyang's parents also work in the research field.

Quality control inspector Christina Loh, 62, who lives in the flat across from the Ouyangs, said the family has lived there for at least three years: "They rent rooms to a lot of people from China."

Madam Loh said she seldom talks to the family, and the last time she saw Ouyang was a few years ago. "She's small-sized, very quiet. When we see each other, we would only nod our heads. She never talked much. She's the shy type, not the social type."

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