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Home / People / In the Spotlight / Neighbours Saved a Domestic Worker’s Life by Refusing to Let Go  
Published: 08 Aug 2012 08:04AM (Singapore)
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Neighbours Saved a Domestic Worker’s Life by Refusing to Let Go
A group of neighbours came to the rescue of an Indonesian domestic worker who had lost her balance while carrying out her chores. Their efforts did not go unnoticed by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
By Shahidah Sayadi
It was a Sunday morning like any other for Mr Louis Chow Chee Loon and his family on 3 June 2012, until Mr Chow, 41, an IT Manager at the Movement for the Intellectually disabled of Singapore (MINDS), was alerted by his wife, who had heard cries for help.

Mr Chow’s wife, Mdm Wong Siw Moi, who is in her 30s, looked out of her master bedroom window of their 11th floor flat at Woodlands Drive 44 and saw Ms Nuraini visibly hanging from pole supports of the upper storey’s laundry area, which was in full view from their master bedroom.

Ms Nuraini was the domestic helper of the family who lived in the flat above Mr Chow’s.

Little did Mr Chow’s family know that their otherwise uneventful Sunday would culminate in them receiving the Public Spirited Award from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

Home Team News
Mr Louis Chow (second from left) and his wife, Mdm Wong Siw Moi (second from right) with their Public Spiritedness Awards presented by 4th Civil Defence Division Commander Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Teong How Hwa (extreme left) with Warrant Officer (WO) Abdul Rahman. PHOTO: Sidwyn Koh

Without his quick reaction, chances of the domestic worker surviving would have been rather slim, considering the 12-storey height at which the domestic worker was precariously hanging on to dear life.At that point, with few vital moments to spare, Mr Chow’s only focus was to save the domestic worker or at least prevent her from slipping down any further till more help came.

Mr Chow rushed to support her by pushing one of her feet up.

It was believed that Ms Nuraini’s employer was also trying to pull her to safety.

“When you see people who need help, you help them out, regardless of race, religion or nationality; you don’t need to think twice,” said Mr Chow.

Ms Nuraini soon lost grip of the laundry pole supports and would have plunged head-first down 12 storeys, if Mr Chow had not held on to her foot with all his might.

He even pulled her ankle against the metal pole outside his 11th-storey window for better support as they waited for more help.

Now dangling over a narrow concrete ledge below Mr Chow’s window, Ms Nuraini was held back from certain fall by Mr Chow’s grip of her foot alone.

Both Ms Nuraini’s leg and Mr Chow’s hand were injured in the process but Mr Chow held on as that was her only chance of survival.

“I was telling myself I must never let go; it’s a life in my hand,” recounted Mr Chow.

In the meantime, Mdm Wong Siw Moi got help from their immediate 11th-storey neighbours, who had been mere acquaintances then.

She also dialled the SCDF emergency hotline and the police.

Mr Ong Hwee Lim and Mr Or Hiap Kiong, their immediate neighbours, responded to her call for help, entered Mr Chow’s home and assisted him by supporting the maid’s head, hand and body.

Their combined strength was still not enough to pull her to safety but they managed to swing her back to the ledge.

By then, Ms Nuraini had fainted from the ordeal and trauma.

The SCDF arrived at the scene of incident six minutes after receiving the call.

These six minutes felt like an eternity to Mr Chow and his neighbours who held on to the unconscious woman with all their might.

SCDF officers proceeded to set up an inflatable mattress on the ground floor as a safety measure, while they went up to pull her into Mr Louis Chow’s 11th floor flat.

Ms Nuraini was taken to the Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital soon after to have her injuries checked.

She has since returned to Indonesia, her homeland.

One thing for sure, this incident has forged a strong bond among the neighbours, sparking off some kind of “kampong spirit” in them.

Prior to this incident, the neighbours had barely spoken more than a few words to one another, but their conversations are now lengthier.

Mr Chow shared that helping others is part and parcel of his job.

He had not known of the Public Spiritedness Award before this, but, having known it now, he felt that it would help generate more awareness on the need to help others.

Mr Chow and Mdm Wong were presented the Public Spiritedness Award by Commander of 4th Civil Defence Division Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Teong How Hwa.

“I’m glad. I didn’t expect to get a commendation,” said Mr Chow.

“But if I can help to create awareness on helping others, why not?”

The couple is proud to have received this award and hopes that their children will learn a thing or two from this incident and be good citizens.

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