Malaysian woman found in Pasir Ris river: Cause of death not certain, says coroner

Ms Khoo Yee Joo was found floating on Sungei Api Api on Jan 18. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - The cause of death of a Malaysian woman who went missing on Jan 16, and whose body was found two days later in a river in Pasir Ris, is uncertain, said the State Coroner.

Ms Khoo Yee Joo, 22, was found floating on Sungei Api Api on Jan 18.

In an inquiry on Monday (Aug 1) into her death, State Coroner Adam Nakhoda recorded an open verdict.

He said: "Circumstances would suggest suicidal ideation but, in this case, other reasons for her death cannot be conclusively excluded."

Noting that the body was found among the mangrove forests, the coroner said the autopsy report did not find any external injuries on Ms Khoo.

He added that Investigation Officer (IO) Ling Junxian had said that there was no indication of foul play as a cause of death.

Sergeant Ling told the court that the police were alerted at around 7.20pm on Jan 18 to Ms Khoo's body being found.

She was seen by several witnesses, including a mangrove surveyor, before she went missing on Jan 16.

The IO said that a relative and a friend of Ms Khoo both commented that throughout her stay in Singapore, she had been depressed, under stress at work and had suicidal thoughts.

Another witness said that on Jan 16, she had also asked about the depth of the water at Sungei Api Api.

Ms Khoo purportedly told the witness - believed to be the last person to have seen her - that she was not sure if they would meet again in the future, said the IO.

She was seen on security cameras walking to Pasir Ris Park alone at 6.45pm on Jan 16 in the same outfit she wore when her body was found.

The Health Sciences Authority reported that the cause of death was uncertain, said the IO.

Ms Khoo, who was from Kedah, had moved to Singapore after she graduated from university and later landed a job as an assistant Chinese teacher in a tuition centre, reported Chinese-language paper Lianhe Zaobao.

She was said to have lived with her aunt, Ms Huang Yanying, 46, in Toa Payoh.

A witness said that on Jan 16, Ms Khoo had asked about the depth of the water at Sungei Api Api. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF FAMILY, ST FILE

Ms Khoo went missing after she got off work in Chai Chee on Jan 16.

Ms Huang tried to search for her and made a missing person report to the police at 2am on Jan 17.

At around 7.30pm the next day, the Singapore Civil Defence Force said it received a call for assistance at Sungei Api Api. Its officers retrieved the body from the river.

Ms Khoo's sister, Ms Khoo Zhi Shuang, 23, later wrote in an Instagram post that her sibling had sent a "distress signal" and "chose to end her pain in her own way".

The sister recalled the last phone call she had with Ms Khoo, in which she remarked that maybe one day she would be gone.

Ms Khoo Zhi Shuang also told The Straits Times that her sister was a kind and warm person, who was always "giving her best to others".

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