Mother of Little Light Bulb: “Fortunately, I had held you tightly and told you I loved you every day.”
(Claire Wang gave media the permission to show the photo of her, her husband and Little Light Bulb)
By Christie Chen, CNA staff reporter
It was hard even for strangers to talk about the slaying of a young girl in Taipei on Monday but the child’s 36-year-old mother Claire Wang stepped in front of the TV cameras just hours after to give an account of the horrific incident.
Although she was visibly shaken by the death of her 4-year-old at the hands of a knife wielding man, Wang was able to coherently relate the gruesome details of the incident that took place in front of her eyes.
Even more remarkable were her dispassionate comments amid widespread calls for stiffer laws in the country against the type of crime she had just witnessed.
“I believe the suspects in these kinds of random killings lose their minds at that moment,” Wang told TV reporters at the police station Monday.
“This is not a problem that can be solved by passing a law, she said. “I hope we can address the problem from its root, from the perspective of family and education, so that there will no longer be people like him (the perpetrator) in our society.”
Wang and her daughter, surnamed Liu, were on their way to a metro station in Taipei’s Neihu District to meet the girl’s grandfather and two of her siblings for lunch, when 33-year-old Wang Ching-yu (王景玉 no relation) grabbed the child from behind and decapitated her with a cleaver in an apparent random attack.
The suspect, who has a criminal record for drug offenses and a health record of psychiatric treatment, was subdued by passersby and residents of the area and arrested by the police. He was detained and held incommunicado after being questioned overnight by prosecutors.
Shortly after the suspect’s arrest Monday, crowds gathered outside the police station, shouting curses at him and trying to beat him up when he emerged surrounded by police. Public anger spilled over to social media, where thousands of furious messages were posted, calling for the immediate execution of the suspect and berating activists against the death penalty.
On the Facebook page of Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡), executive director of the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, a flood of hate messages were posted, some telling her to “go die” and “go to hell.”
On Claire Wang’s Facebook page, however, hers was a voice of reason, magnanimity and forbearance.
“Please keep trusting people because the society is still beautiful,” she wrote, and “please give your dearest family members a hug. That would be the most comforting and caring thing you could do for us.”
Amid a renewed debate over the death penalty, which is still carried out in Taiwan, Wang said Tuesday that she does not want her child’s death to be used as fuel for that debate.
“My baby had an accident and died,” she said.
“If you sympathize with us, pity us or care about us, please wait at least a week to 10 days until our emotions have settled, before discussing the issue.”
Her demeanor and comments have heightened the outpouring of public support for her family, with many people expressing admiration for her.
“I admire her and feel her heartache. She has issued a painful call in a clear and logical way,” wrote Fi FiWang, one of the thousands of people who posted online messages of sympathy for Claire Wang.
“The mother’s calmness and perseverance were admirable and heartbreaking,” Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said on Facebook, noting that public anger had erupted rapidly after the incident.
Another public figure, New Power Party Legislator Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸), also praised Claire Wang’s courage and urged the public to respect the family’s privacy at this time.
In 2013, Hung’s family also suffered a tragedy when her younger brother Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) died under controversial circumstances in the military as a conscript.
Claire Wang and her 44-year-old husband David Liu both have graduate degrees from the University of Southern California. Liu works in the high-tech sector while Wang is a stay-at-home mom.
The couple has three other children, a nine-year-old girl and a 2-year-old twin brother and sister.
In a family album on Wang’s blog, there is a folder for each of the children, whom Wang nicknamed Little Tadpole, Little Light Bulb (the deceased child), Little Whale and Little Seal.
The folders document her pregnancies, the birth of the children, their growth and some of her conversations with them.
In one of the conversations, Little Light Bulb said she was a child and her mother was an adult. When Wang asked if Little Whale and Little Seal were also children, Little Light Bulb said “no, they’re not children.” “They’re twins,” she said.
In one of her posts Tuesday, Wang uploaded a photo of her holding Little Light Bulb in her arms, with her husband next to them.
In the post, Wang said fortunately, she had held her child tightly and told her that she loved her every day.
Speaking to the press outside the funeral home Tuesday, Wang said she hoped her daughter’s death would prove meaningful in some way.
“After the incident, many friends advised me to close my blog and Facebook page, but I really hope that her death can leave something behind, stir up some discussion, remind people of the importance of love, and call attention to the many issues in society,” Wang said.