As Mr Patwari Shamim and Mr Mostafa Kamal drove a buggy to collect rubbish bins from the 17 refuse chute chambers around Block 534 in Bedok North Street 3 on Tuesday morning (Jan 7), they heard crying in one of the bins.
Mr Patwari, 24, thought he had misheard and asked his colleague. Mr Mostafa, 37, had also heard it and said it was probably a discarded toy doll with its batteries still intact.
In a decision that could well have decided the baby's fate, Mr Patwari, who was driving, stopped the buggy for Mr Mostafa to check the bin.
The Bangladeshi cleaners related their account in a mixture of English and Bengali to The New Paper on Thursday.
When Mr Mostafa opened the bin, a sheet of newspaper was on top. Below it was a Sheng Siong supermarket plastic bag that looked wet and bloody. He stepped back in shock. Something in the bag had moved.
Mr Patwari decided to look for himself and he could make out tiny limbs thrashing inside the bag.
He said: "Usually, we would just throw the plastic bag away. We have found dolls before that made crying sounds.
"But the crying coming from inside the bag was now very loud and it made me scared."
Mr Patwari called their supervisor at the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. When he arrived, they opened the bag.
Mr Patwari saw a naked male infant lying in a small pool of water with blood on his body.
Part of the baby's umbilical cord was still attached, he said.
The supervisor called the police immediately and Mr Patwari went back to the bin centre to grab a piece of cloth to clean and wrap the baby.
The police said on Tuesday they received a call for assistance at about 9am.
They are still trying to trace the baby's parents.
When paramedics checked the baby, he was in stable condition and had no visible injuries. He was later taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
Mr Patwari said it was his first experience of such a situation in his four years of working in Singapore.
They clear rubbish from the refuse chute chambers of 28 Housing Board blocks in the estate once a day, taking six bins on the buggy to the centralised bin centre on each trip.
The doors to the refuse chute chambers are not locked.
Mr Patwari, the second youngest of five siblings, said he is still reeling from the incident and was worried for the infant after the boy was taken to the hospital.
He said: "A policeman came here (on Wednesday) and I asked him how the baby was doing. I am happy to hear that he is healthy."
Mr Patwari, who is single, said he had a hard time trying to sleep on Tuesday.
"I kept thinking what would have happened if I had not seen the baby. I could have just dumped him into the bin centre to be crushed. He dies, I also die.
"I am so happy the baby is alive. I helped to save a life. I like my job even more now."
If possible, he would also like to meet the baby when he grows up, he said.
Mr Mostafa, who has been working here for about two years, said it was a miracle the baby survived.
His 17-year-old son is a cleaner at a nearby block and a younger son, 11, is studying in Bangladesh.
He said: "It is amazing (the baby survived) because people are always throwing things, like bottles, down.
"As a father, this is one of the best things I have done in my life, saving somebody."
Additional reporting by Pradip Kumar Sikdar
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