Socialite and philanthropist Nancy Gan was found dead in the swimming pool of her upscale Victoria Park Road bungalow in Bukit Timah yesterday morning.
A 23-year-old Indonesian maid, Dewi Suko Wati, who was arrested there, is believed to have been working for Ms Gan for barely a week. Police have classified the case as murder.
The 69-year-old mother of two was the ex-wife of former Hong Kong Legislative Council politician Hilton Cheong-leen.
She was also an accomplished pianist and a well-known porcelain artist who regularly donated her works to raise funds for charity.
The police received a call at 8.46am yesterday, and paramedics pronounced Ms Gan dead at 9.07am. She is understood to have been found in the pool dressed in her pyjamas, with injuries to her head.
Several police officers, including crime scene investigators, were seen in the neighbourhood and collecting evidence at the house off Coronation Road.
The Straits Times understands that the maid, from Central Java, received her work permit on March 6, and had been working for Ms Gan for only about a week.
A man who showed up at the house at about 7.15pm and identified himself as Ms Gan's younger brother described her as an "extremely nice" and charitable person, but declined to say more.
A neighbour who declined to be named remembered Ms Gan as gregarious. "She came over to introduce herself and invited us over when we moved in last April," said the woman. "She was a very neat, well-groomed... woman. She was also very talented - I have seen her porcelain paintings and would always hear her listening to classical piano music and old Chinese songs."
Neighbours also said Ms Gan had been living there temporarily for almost a year as her other property on Swiss Club Road was being renovated, and that she shared her home with her adult son and maid.
The Straits Times understands that her son, who left on a business trip to South Korea on Monday, returned last night. Ms Gan also leaves a daughter, believed to be a doctor based in London.
This is the second tragedy involving a maid this month. On March 4, Myanmar maid Than Than Win, 24, was charged with the murder of an 85-year-old Singaporean woman at Springdale condominium on Hindhede Walk, off Upper Bukit Timah Road.