'If you want to kill me, go ahead...'
The tragic tale of Nordin Montong horrified the nation. Our coverage included gripping details from scores of witnesses, and exclusive sequence pictures and video footage of the incident. The reports were picked up around the world
It was the most terrifying incident since the Singapore Zoo opened more than 40 years ago.
The day - Nov 13, 2008 - will remain etched in memory forever.
Malaysian contract worker Nordin Montong died after climbing into the white tiger exhibit and was attacked by its three inhabitants, a male named Omar and two females, Jippie and Winnie.
The then 32-year-old cleaner had deliberately jumped into the moat that separated the tigers from visitors. He then waded towards the creatures and was subsequently mauled to death - in full view of shocked onlookers who at first thought it was all a show.
The New Paper got right on top of the shocking incident and stayed ahead of the competition, to the extent of winning a Society of Publishers in Asia (Sopa) award for Excellence in the Reporting, Breaking News Category in 2009.
The New Paper’s Page 1
Our coverage included gripping details from scores of witnesses, and exclusive sequence pictures and video footage of the incident.
We went the extra mile in providing a human dimension to the tragic tale.
"Getting the video, to me, was pivotal. It was really a case of being at the right place, at the right time," then-TNP correspondent Desmond Ng, 40, recalled in March 2013.
Ranking it as one of his most memorable stories, he knew he had "a major scoop" on his hands. Mr Ng, who rushed to the venue right after the incident, said he trained his eye on those who were leaving the zoo.
"It pays to keep your ears peeled, and I overhead a bunch of students discussing the video at the next table.
"I quickly bundled them into my car and sped to the newsroom to show our editors the video. The adrenaline rush was out of this world."
Malaysian Nordin Montong.
The grisly attack was filmed from the white tiger exhibit's viewing gallery by then 16-year-old student Mohammad Khairul Nizam Zainal, who handed the footage over.
The four-minute video clip showed the captive-bred big cats looking on curiously at the man who had intruded into their territory.
The tigers pawed and bit Mr Nordin as he crouched in a foetal position with a pail over his head.
Realising he was at the mercy of the massive predators, he was heard repeating in Malay: "If you want to kill me, go ahead. Forgive me. God is almighty."
Mr Nordin had 90 external injuries from top to toe, in addition to fractures of the skull, neck and ribs.
A verdict of suicide was recorded by State Coroner Victor Yeo in 2009.
As such, no workmen's compensation was required by law to be paid to Mr Nordin's family.
But Sun City Maintenance, the cleaning company that hired him, bore the $3,000 funeral and transport expenses.
Just minutes before the tragedy, Mr Nordin reportedly exhibited strange behaviour.
He told colleagues at the zoo that they would not see him again as he would "no longer be here".
He also threw his Malaysian driving licence and staff meal vouchers into a crocodile enclosure.
Former TNP correspondent Teh Jen Lee, contacted his family and travelled to Kuching, Sarawak, for the funeral on Nov 15, 2008.
It was then that his sisters had asked to view the video footage of Mr Nordin's last moments, to see how their beloved brother ended up in the jaws of a tiger.
Mr Nordin's passing has had such a lasting impact on the family that the sisters have declined to be interviewed any more.