SINGAPORE - “No one deserves this, we mourn as one. God bless your souls and your family. Rest in peace little angels,” went one message placed near the canal, where two 11-year-old boys were found dead on Friday night (Jan 21).
White roses had been positioned carefully close by, alongside other messages, bouquets and candles. About 20 residents stood silently as leaders from different religions came together to pray there on Sunday morning.
Representatives from six religious organisations conducted the prayers – Imam Mohamad Idris from Al-Huda Mosque, the Venerable Rui Zhen from Beeh Low See Temple, Father Francis Lim from the Church of St Ignatius, Reverend Roy Koh from Glory Presbyterian Church, a priest from Ling Xuan Services, and a priest from Sri Arasakesari Sivan Temple.
Ms Sim Ann, an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, attended the session at a park along Greenridge Crescent, near where the 11-year-old twins, Ethan and Aston Yap, were found.
Before the prayers, she said of the boys: “Even if we do not know them personally, their untimely demise is heartbreaking, especially to those of us who are parents ourselves. It is an unthinkable loss.
“This is why, after consulting neighbourhood volunteers, we have decided to organise an inter-faith prayer session here – so that we may each, in our own way, wish peace upon the souls of the departed.”
The boys' father, 48, was arrested late on Saturday for his suspected involvement in their deaths. He will be charged with murder on Monday.
Ms Sim told The Straits Times that the constituency team has been looking at details of residents who approached it for help to see if any household fits the description of what has been reported about the family.
The search has turned up nothing so far.
She also spoke to a few of the residents who attended the prayers.
“Our residents have felt immense shock and also grief at this case, especially as more details emerge. They also highlighted to me that they always feel safe living in this neighbourhood,” she said, noting that some had asked whether the perception of the safety of the neighbourhood would be affected by the tragedy.
“I assured the residents I would take up this issue with the police after the case is concluded.”
Retiree Lee Kia Jian, 76, one of the residents at the prayers, said: “I was shocked when I learnt this had happened in my neighbourhood.
“I came down to put a flower near the site and pay my respects.”
Mr Fong Chun Cheong, 40, who told ST on Saturday he is a family friend, posted on Facebook that the family was thankful for the prayer session.
Speaking on their behalf, he said: “I wish to extend the family’s sincere gratitude to the inter-faith groups for the prayers organised by the constituency team.”
The park and its surrounding area were quiet after the prayer session, with only a few people walking their dogs or jogging.
A man who was walking through the park with his wife said they live nearby and walking by the canal was part of their usual exercise route.
The man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Yeo, told ST that while the deaths would not affect his routine, his heart went out to those involved in the tragedy.
“Surely, when you walk by this place, you will think of the family and children, and how the survivors are doing - that is the main concern,” he said.