Family, Health, Relationships, Work & Money

Daughter of Beach Road slashing survivor: “My mom is a changed person”

By Christine Leow  , 18 December 2023

When Han Hongli came to Singapore to work in 2016, she did not expect to become the victim of one of the most horrific slashing cases on the island.

Hongli had long hair (pictured, tied back) before the attack. The injuries on her scalp now make it difficult for her to grow out her hair.

On April 14, 2022, her estranged husband confronted her with a chopper at the steamboat restaurant at Beach Road where she worked.

For several minutes, Hongli’s estranged husband chased her around the Beach Road area, attacking her with a chopper and then a kitchen knife. Screengrabs from various news platforms.

During the brutal attack, Hongli sustained two deep cuts across her left eye. Her retina was so severely damaged that she is now totally blind in that eye.

“The eyeball is usually a globe. But mine became entirely deflated. The doctor wanted to remove it. But I was adamant that I want to die with both eyes,” Hongli said in Mandarin.

Smiling despite her injuries. Hongli is now permanently blind in her left eye. She is awaiting surgery in January 2024 to help her fully open that eye.

As the wound healed, scar tissue formed around her left eye, making it difficult to open it beyond a mere slit.

While she can no longer see through her left eye, she still cares how others see her.

She will undergo a surgery in January 2024 to allow her to fully open her left eye. It will also correct the cloudy appearance of that eyeball.

“I cannot die”

Hongli came to Singapore to earn a better living to put her children through school.

She wasn’t making enough money in the minimart she ran with her husband in Henan, China.

Her son was only 12 and her daughter, 15, when she left them behind. 

“I ran to the road and tried to burrow under a car parked by the side so I could cover my head and neck.”

She started working at a steamboat restaurant and was promoted to a managerial position.

He husband periodically came to Singapore to work, but had been home in China prior to the attack. 

He had returned to Singapore presumably intending to kill Hongli and then himself. 

“As he hacked at me, I cried and asked him, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’

“He told me, ‘If I can’t live happily, you won’t live at all!’”

As Hongli tried to escape, she had only one thought.

“I thought, ‘I cannot die; I must not die. What would happen to the children if I died?’”

“Even though I was so injured, I never felt any pain throughout the incident.”

She was clearheaded enough during the attack to think: “My priority was to protect my head and neck because if he slashed me there, it would be fatal.”

“I ran to the road and tried to burrow under a car parked by the side so I could cover my head and neck,” she said.

By the time her estranged husband was subdued and arrested by the police, he had chased Hongli through Beach Road.

He had attacked her with a chopper and a kitchen knife, and left her bleeding profusely from 42 gaping wounds.

Beach Road slashing

Hongli recovering in hospital. She underwent several surgeries following the attack.

“Even though I was so injured, I never felt any pain throughout the incident.

“When I was in the ambulance, I even wondered, ‘Why is my body so wet?’

“It was actually my blood,” she recalled.

During her first operation, she saw a vision of angels surrounding her as she lay face-up under the bright surgical lights.

During her first of many operations she saw a vision of angels surrounding her and watching over the procedure as she lay face-up under the bright surgical lights.

“I couldn’t see their faces but I saw their white wings moving. I didn’t know if they were real at first,” she admitted.

She had her doubts about what she had seen, but later met someone who helped her grow more confident that those were indeed angels sent by God.

Revelation on social media

Hongli’s daughter found out about the attack through social media.

Her uncle, who is her guardian, had refused to tell her much at first.

Said Hongli’s daughter, who did not want to be named or photographed: “He said that my father had hit my mother a few times. But when I did not hear from my mother for three days, I got suspicious.

“When I did not hear from my mother for three days, I got suspicious.”

“I kept asking him, ‘If Mother is not badly hurt, why doesn’t she pick up my call?’

“I went online and quite easily found out about the whole thing,” she said.

Both of Hongli’s children were enraged. Their father had always been an angry man who had hit his wife and children.

Said Hongli’s daughter: “He would hit us for the smallest things, like if we didn’t sweep the floor properly or wipe the table clean enough.

“But we didn’t expect him to do this terrible thing,” she said.

The kindness of strangers

Some 18 months after the attack, Hongli’s daughter came to visit her in Singapore for three weeks. She is now 21, and awaiting a six-month internship after graduating from university.

It was the first time mother and daughter have been together in nearly five years.

Hongli’s son, now 17, could not come because of school.

Eric Lee, a volunteer manager from The Sojourn Programme which helps migrant workers, has been assisting Hongli since the aftermath of the attack.

Eric Lee (right) has been helping Hongli (left) for nearly two years. It includes accompanying her for her many medical checkups.

He knew how much Hongli missed her children. So he gathered sponsors to pay for their airfare.

Said Hongli’s daughter: “Even the journey here was a miracle. I had never travelled out of China before and didn’t dare fly alone.

“Uncle Eric found out that someone he knew was flying out from Henan to Singapore. So he arranged for me to fly with him.”

For Hongli, her daughter’s visit is yet another example of God’s provision she’s seen through the kindness of strangers.

“Now we are like sisters”

The visit brought Hongli joy in many ways.

In Singapore, Hongli’s daughter saw the relevance and reality of God. She had never seen it before, even though her mother had taken her to church when she was young.

“But now, I see how good and loving God is,” said Hongli’s daughter.

“So many strangers, like Uncle Eric, who don’t know us have come to help us.

“I am so touched and so grateful.”

The Salvation Arm

While recovering from her injuries and waiting to testify at the trial of her estranged husband, Hongli (centre) lives in a shelter provided by The Salvation Army. She volunteers at their activities, such as the Mooncake Festival, when she helped to make mooncakes for beneficiaries of The Salvation Army.

Seeing the change in her mother also moved her. It also confirmed for her the power of God.

“My mother is totally changed. She used to be very concerned about money, very self-reliant. Now she treasures relationships.

“My mother used to be very concerned about money, very self-reliant. Now she treasures relationships.”

“In the past, whatever I did, she would always have a different view and would try to impose her ways on me.

“Now we are like sisters. We are very close and I’m not afraid to share everything with her.

“All she wants is for my brother and I to be happy and alive,” said Hongli’s daughter.

“I’m no longer afraid”

When asked how she felt about the man who had hurt her so badly, Hongli previously spoke with anger and bitterness.

He had blinded her in one eye, severed one of her fingers and damaged her nerves.

Hongli sustained multiple injuries on her arms when she raised them to fend off the blows during the attack.

She had said that she hated him so deeply that she could feel it in her bones.

“I wanted to take revenge and hurt him like he hurt me,” she had said.

“I wanted to take revenge and hurt him like he hurt me.”

Last year, she said that she was not yet ready to forgive, but had begun to pray for him.

Today, Hongli has a different answer: “I have since set my mind to fully forgive him.

“Since I got to know my great God, I have tried to forgive him. Because I have learnt of God’s love and forgiveness, I can love my enemies.

“I cannot do it on my own. But God has given me the strength to do so.

“I have since set my mind to fully forgive him … I cannot do it on my own.”

“After I decided to forgive him, I felt free. When I sleep at night, I am no longer afraid.

“I used to have nightmares,” she said.

She admits that sometimes thinking about her estranged husband still riles her up.

But encouraged by one Bible verse (Philippians 3:13-14), she says: “I want to forget the past and head towards the future.”

The Salvation Army provides Hongli with rehabilitation sessions that include physiotherapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine consultations, as well as counselling. What also helps her are walks in the park and prayers of friends at the shelter where she now lives.

“If we have the love of Jesus, we can let go of our anger. Because I am a Christian, I am very happy. I don’t have a worry.”

Releasing anger 

Seeing Hongli’s love beyond human comprehension has inspired her daughter.

After the attack, Hongli’s children were filled with thoughts of revenge, fuelled by hatred.

“My son wanted to kill his father,” Hongli revealed.

The Salvation Army

Hongli (centre) doing community work with volunteers from The Salvation Army.

Said Hongli’s daughter: “I don’t hate him now. But to forgive him is a challenge. I need to slowly use Jesus’ love to forgive him because he hurt my mother.

“Letting go of hatred and giving it to God is truly easier said than done,” she admitted, adding that she needs God’s strength to help her.

Hongli (right) handing to beneficiaries some mooncakes that she and other volunteers had made.

Meanwhile, Hongli is waiting to testify at her estranged husband’s trial.

“I have not thought about what happens after that. I will leave it in God’s hands,” she said.

Said her daughter: “My mum is my home. Where she is, there is my home. I just want to get a job and help my mum to support my brother.

“She has worked so hard, she deserves to rest. Let her be happy. The three of us together can face all challenges without fear.”

This is an excerpt of a story that first appeared in Salt&Light.

If you’d like to know more about Jesus, click here to find a church near you.


“I hated him in my bones”: Beach Road slashing survivor looks to forgive estranged husband

“My brother was murdered by a deranged stranger. But he did not die in vain”

Related articles
Tell Me More
Feeling lost in life?
This is default text for notification bar