The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, March 06, 2009

David Hartanto Widjaja: celebrity.

David Hartanto Widjaja has become a posthumous celebrity of some kind. I say this upon observation of the traffic to my blog. You see, since the day news of his death by attempted murder-suicide broke and I wrote of it, about one fifth of the traffic to my blog has arrived with searches for either "David Hartanto Widjaja" or simply "David Widjaja". A few arrive by searching "NTU boy commits suicide over scholarship". I find this really very surprising, for I have been tracking news stories for two years, now - and this is the first that I have written of, that has attracted so much traffic.

I wrote of the death of Heath Ledger - and got a couple of hits a day for a few days after his death. Since mentioning David Hartanto Widjaja's shocking demise, my blog has been inundated with arrivals looking for more information about him.

His story of a despair that a young man could not take and thought fit to throw his life away, over, has become a persistent story - one with a momentum that few stories have. The consequence of this is that David Hartanto Widjaja is actually becoming famous in death. How sad, then, that what he is famous for is the manner of his death. Most who are famous after death, are famous for their lives, not their death. I think, given the significant traffic I am receiving in search of him, that, in some way, David Hartanto Widjaja will never be forgotten. The tale of the NTU boy who tried to kill his lecturer, then killed himself will long be remembered. With it, of course, there is a lesson beneath the tale: a lesson of the extremes to which the Singaporean education system pushes students, extremes which some students just cannot cope with.

I hope that David Hartanto Widjaja's memory is never forgotten. For, as long as we remember his short, tragic life, we may guard against putting our young under too much pressure in the name of academia. There are more important things in life than scholarships, academic achievements and educational status. There is love, there is happiness, there is peace of mind. I don't think that David Hartanto Widjaja felt that he had enough of these - particularly the latter. It seems more than certain that the demands of his course ensured that he had no peace of mind in his final months.

Let our children, then, know peace of mind, happiness and love. Let those be the core of their lives - and not scholarships, awards and grades. The latter accolades are hollow when measured against the things of life that have true worth. Singapore, of all societies, needs to learn this. Otherwise, it is at too much risk of being a hollow society. Oh dear, perhaps it already is...

Rest in Peace, David Hartanto Widjaja.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:51 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today, 02:37 PM
I am one of David Hartanto's close friend and I am here to give you
some facts, assumptions, possibilities about this case


1. Lok Tat Seng: Dean of Student of NTU gathered all Indonesian students in
International Student Center on evening after incident and
he just said there was witness on the spot who saw David's body lying on the ground,
dead. Dean did not said that witness saw David jumped from balcony.
And that is, according to him, all he has saw.

2. The only official statement from police is: David was found dead at
the crime scene, they did not mention whether he commited suicide.

The link:

They also just mention 'The professor was believed to be stabbed'. The police
did not say that 'the professor was stabbed'. Where this assumption come from? Why
they did not say about it?

3. I and some Indonesian students gather tonight, 3 March 2009, at 8 pm,
at International Student Center and talked to David's parent.
They have seen his body. There was NO WOUND whatsoever on his wrists
and police also has confirmed it.
I assumed that his parent would not lie it means that all media news about
'David slashed his wrist' was FAKE.

4. The wounds found on David's body, according to his parents,
were on his head (It is assumed due to fall injury),
and slash wound on his neck. The wound on his neck is very suspicious, in
my opinion. How he received that wound?? Again, according to his parent,
police guessed that it may be happened when the bottom part of his head smashed
the ground. In that case, his chin will have broken and it did not.

1. David stabbed professor. How did you know? The crime scene is closed room,
only David and that professor. No one see what has happened.
Eye-witness only saw David run out from that room.

2. David commited suicide. How could someone who commited suicide drop himself
into glassed roof, instead of directly drop himself to ground.

3. David slashed his wrist. I do not know where this news came from...

4. David's motivation.

4.1. He pissed off since his prof did not give satisfactory grade

The grade has not been released and he even has not submitted the report.
It is also NTu policy not to inform the student about the grade which they got
before release of the result.

4.2. He has mental problem

No record in Student Counselling Centre about his attendance. For bright student
as him, I did not believe that he did not attend counseling if he has some
problems. Also, he still brought bag with usual daily stuff, on incident day,
such as drink bottle, towel, etc. If David planned to kill someone why would
he prepare to bring such things. It is easier for him to just bring one knife
and stab his prof on spot.

4.3. He pissed off because his scholarship has been revoked

I knew David since I was his roommate for 2 consecutive
years during Mathematical Olympiad training camp. He almost did not
qualify for IMO, only managed to get at 14th rank from 15 people selected.
He still joked and laughed to me at that time. He also did not get anything
from IMO and still fine, not seemed depressed whatsoever, and according to his
parents, he said 'At least, I managed to represent Indonesia at IMO'
He also still play Hammerfall game in Facebook at 2 am on the incident day. My friend
saw his Facebook account online. How come
a murderer played game in the night before incident? If I was him,
I will seriously think how would I prepare myself tomorrow

1. Professor attacked David. I deduced this thing for several key points.
According to many reports, David's cloth was soaked on blood. If the blood is
the result from slashing his wrist, it should not soak his cloth since wrist is
far from body. If the wound is from neck, it is easier.

2. David tried to run from Professor. After he realized that he was attacked,
he resisted and run from that room, with wound on his neck.

3. David falled because of unconsciousness. He became panic and probably lose
his common sense because of terrible bleeding, drop himself down into glassed roof
to escape from his Professor.

I am responsible for what I have written here, and contact me at if you need any clarification.

link asli nya:

1:50 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Edwin, I will let your views speak for themselves since I have no firsthand information on the case.

Thanks for your comment.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Singaporean pursuing graduate studies at one of the top-ranking universities in the US. It can get quite pressurizing here too and people do get their fellowships or sponsorships terminated if they are not able to perform up to the mark. Such situations are not unique to Singapore.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I always thought that the US system was more pressurizing than the European system, because in the US there is this GRADE POINT AVERAGE idea. In Europe, you just have exams at the end of a course. There is no need for keeping performance high at all times.

I am sorry to hear that the US is like Singapore. I know that Europe (UK at least) wasn't when I was studying. That is the way it should be.

Thanks for your comment.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To add on, Singapore universities are more US than UK like, with the GPA/CAP scoring system, while UK is based on absolute marks determining the grades.

I do not believe that one system is superior to the other.

Each has its own pros and cons. I think the best is somewhat like an in-between, which gives credit for the marks obtained, but also recognizes those who are better than their cohort.

Perhaps local unis could adopt such a system rather than an extreme.

Just my thoughts.

*By the way, there is another suicide case in NTU, also from EEE, but the person was a project officer, not a student.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I think overall that the UK system is better: at least you have an idea of the standard involved, rather than something relative. Anyway, that is just my view.

I would be interested in any more details of the other suicide. Are they linked to each other? Is something going on that we are unaware of? Why both in EEE? Is there something really wrong with the culture of the place? Two suicides is a lot in a short time. Something is up.

Thanks for your tip.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with edwin, i find it hard to believe it was a suicide

10:55 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I hope there is a proper investigation...and not just an assumption that things are a certain way.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My friend saw his Facebook account online. How come a murderer played game in the night before incident? If I was him,I will seriously think how would I prepare myself tomorrow"

About that, I don't think that sounds ridiculous because during the Columbine High Sch Massacre in 1999, the 2 gunners went for a bowling class hours before they carried out their attacked.
No offence but just something to point out.

Whatever it is, I hope we all will know the truth what really happen that fateful day.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Rendi said...

Lets not get off topic and talk about university here...

For people in this blog, pls just remove the image that David was "suicidal" because of "academic matter"

FYI it is still unclear whether he committed suicide or not
and he was okay with his academic performance


1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think his death needs to be investigates. It is all so suspicious.

2:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Valentine, I'm venturing into unfamiliar waters here, but could the differences we see for example between the Eurpoean and US/Singaporean systems being influenced by the economic systems they each embrace? I am referring particularly to Europe in general being more socialist in nature and US/Singapore being more capitalistic. Paper grades are so important in Singapore because it seems many things just hang on them; it is survival of the fittest which predominantly is measured by grades (sadly). Just a thought.

9:11 AM  
Blogger gold_dragon said...

another death has taken place at

ntu, zhou zheng ( chinese

nationality ) who graduated last

year and just began to work as an

infocomm project officer starting

from march 2nd, he was found by

his flatmate hanging in the

balcony ... 2 unnatural deaths in

1 week time, somemore in the same

neighborhood, i said this is too

much for coincidence ... police

should ask the professor what is

going on, and better keep him at

police station too, because if he

is dead too than it will be

difficult to solve this case.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You have a point. If this is about murder rather than suicide, then the Professor could be next. However, we don't, now, have any idea why this is happening. Two deaths FROM THE SAME LABORATORY by unnatural causes in one week, is just too much to be reasonable. Something is definitely happening beyond coincidence.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. socialist Europe/capitalist Singapore/US.

I don't think so. I think, however, that Europe embraces a more wholistic view of the person than in Singapore and looks beyond mere grades in assessing the worth of a person. The European attitude to people is much healthier and deeper than in Singapore. Personnel departments in Singapore are really quite stupid: they only accept people with EXACTLY the right paper qualification, not understanding that an intelligent person is capable of many different kinds of work, without any real difficulty. The problem is they believe in paper too much and not enough in the ability to understand the merit of another person through their own judgement (which they lack).

Your comment is interesting, though...thank you for posting it.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an Indonesian and I would like to comment in Bahasa Indonesia, because I hope those Indonesian parents who sent their kid abroad will take note.
Bukan sekedar "Pepesan Kosong/Gosong".
Sering terjadi,setelah sesuatu musibah, pihak keluarga terlalu cepat mengatakan/mengkaitkan musibah tsb dengan 'TAKDIR', memang yang sudah meninggal tdk akan hidup lagi, tapi bukan karena takdir semata!! Ingat kita akan "kehilangan" anak tsb utk se-lama2nya. Dan banyak pihak keluarga yg 'PASRAH' apalagi korban adalah 'belum berkeluarga' sehingga ada semacam 'keharusan' kalau sang korban harus cepat2 dikebumikan. Dikebumikan/dikubur masih ada 'kesempatan' utk 'autopsi ulang' tapi sekarang2 ini lebih banyak yg 'dikeremasi' sehingga 'habislah' kesempatan utk autopsi ulang kalau pihak keluarga merasa ada kejanggalan!!
Karena sudah bukan rahasia lagi hampir semua manusia yg hidup dan meninggalnya dikota besar, menginginkan 'pengebumian' secara 'keremasi' yang 'katanya' lebih efficien dan rapi. Maka "kesempatan" ini bisa disalah-artikan/dipergunakan oleh mereka2 yang 'terlibat' dengan musibah yg mengakibatkan sesuatu kematian dimaksud!! "Toh tak bisa lagi dilacak!!"
Bukan maksud saya utk melarang 'keremasi' yg memang lebih "ringkas" tapi, kalau memang ada kecurigaan atas kejadian, konsultasilah dengan phak terkait, apakah dengan pihak Kedubes dinegara bersangkutan atau dgn sanak family yg kebetulan berada dinegera dimaksud. Setelah selesai 'keremasi', tdk ada lagi yg bisa dilihat kecuali "abu".
Di-Indonesia kita "sering baca" 'Autopsi-ulang' karena pihak keluarga merasakan kejanggalan2, itu bisa memungkinkan karena korban dikubur bukan dikeremasi. Saya tdk mengatakan hasil autopsi dari 'coroner' tdk bisa diharapkan 100%, tetapi saya akan mengatakan bisa saja terjadi kekeliruan yang disengaja atau tidak disengaja!!! Lagi pula, kalau korban bukan meninggal karena penyakit/menular, tidaklah ada peraturan kalau korban harus secepatnya dikubur atau dikeremasi.
Yang menjadi pertanyaan adalah; Apakah pihak Kedubes bisa ikut andil saat Autopsi dilaksanakan?!
Karena saya yakin saat Autopsi, pihak keluarga diberitahukan hari sebelum dan setelah selesai, sekalian mengenali korban, tetapi hasil dan pelaksanaannya (dengan sangat menyesal) pihak keluarga tdk bisa ikut melihat/meliputnya!!!
Tidak mengatakan semua acara Autopsi harus melibatkan pihak Kedubes, tetapi khusus utk kasus2 yang oleh pihak keluarga dianggap 'janggal' mohon ada pengecualian dan bantuan dari pihak Kedubes. Tolong mulailah dipikirkan cara pelaksannannya.
Mudah2an "cerita" ini bisa dibaca oleh orang2 Indonesia dimanapun berada dan "terbaca" oleh pihak Kedubes di-negara2 manapun, syukur2akan dibahas atau dibicarakan dalam forum tersendiri, terutama di-Singapura yang "katanya" negara super maju di Asia (Tenggara), dan memang lumayan banyak orang Indonesia juga yang lumayan dekat dengan ibukota Republik Indonesia -Jakarta.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The case is just too suspicious. No matter how 'strong' the professor's back up is, I really hope that the truth will be revealed soon.

Rest In Peace, David
You have touched our hearts and we will pray for you and your name will be cleared.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope singapore police dapartment can solve this case or maybe they're too bussy to clean street from chewing gump

10:01 AM  
Anonymous kurniadi said...

aduh indonesian....apakah indonesia berbahaya buat negara luar....

1:50 AM  
Anonymous 3rD pArtY said...

Since the breaking of the news about David Hartanto Widjaja and the “allegations that HE stabbed Prof. Chan Kap Luk” until the suicide of 1 NTU staff named Zhou, I have been following news, reports, blogs and the likes concerning the said happening.

I don’t have any comment which is favorable to either sides yet on own opinion, it will only be FAIR and JUST if both sides, say the SG and ID governments would agree to hire third-party investigators to verify the facts (such as video recording from campus CCTV(closed-circuit television), Crime Scene photos, Finger prints over the knife used in stabbing as well as its “lost handle” and the office); interview eye-witnesses; and gather/recover the “lost data” such as David’s FYP and Zhou’s research.

I would also like to refresh everbody about what happened more or less a decade ago when the people of the philippines rallied the streets against the singaporean government and its court’s decision on the case of a filipina domestic helper/housemaid/pembantu named Flor Contemplacion allegedly murdering her co-DH (domestic helper)named Delia Maga and the child she is taking care of. While speculations in the philippines appears that the parents of the child (who drowned on the bath-tub) murdered Delia, their filipina housemaid in revenge to the death of the kid, the Singapore Court convicted Flor instead.

Since that time, the Singaporean Police, Singaporean Court and most especially, the Singaporean government lost their integrity to the people of the Philippines. I’m afraid this thing would happen again, this time between Indonesia and Singapore if this case remains unresolved.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Flor. I remember that case. However, I did not see any of the other views that were current in the Phillipines: we only saw the Singaporean side, here.

Re. the Singaporean government. They are, I have observed, always offending foreign governments and people by their harsh sentencing and sometimes worrisome decisions. I think that they are not really concerned about their image.

Thanks for your comment. Let us hope for a full investigation, rather than a sweeping under the carpet type exercise.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seemed that everyone missed the true problem that comes along with this incident..

3:00 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Which is?

6:48 PM  
Blogger aaaaaaaaaa said...

I wonder why peoples need to study in a small country which cant even guaranty overseas students's safety and security.
There are much much and much more Bigger countries which have much much better protection, bigger scholarship and advance facility, higher technology then singapore.
Moreover, I believed most of their Professor obtained their degree from others countries such UK or US etc.
So why dont just go straight to those countries?

Futhermore, let me tell my BEST impression about singapore, in 1998 when my family have to flea to singapore becoz of riot in Jakarta. Maybe due to to over floated with refugee from Jakarta all hotel was full,then we have to run for the local hostel, but instead of helping hand, we got price increased in room rate from those landlords, including gloceries such minerals waters(Aqua)etc.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. A typical Singaporean business person will take every chance to exploit an unfortunate person to make an extra buck. Such exploitation is guaranteed around here.

I hope you have better memories than that, however.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Singaporean said...

A whole load of rubbish..... Everyone posting negative comments are anonymous... for all you know, it is all the same person!

And please you Indonesians and Filipinos.... don't come spew rubbish about Singapore's legal system being harsh. At least we don't have child prostitution, drug running and addicts roaming the streets and the general lawlessness in your own countries. No wonder with mentalities like yours, your countries still are backward and cannot develop.

You come to our country, you commit a crime. What do you expect us to do? Say "Since your citizens protest outside the embassy, we must let u go? Or hah you murder someone but u have children... okay we let u go too." Then what are laws for?

Valentine you are right, we do not care about how others think about us. Because our laws made our country safe and it works. And if you break the laws, why should leniency be shown to offenders?

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Singaporean
Of course you have the right to ignore how others think about Singapore/Singaporeans. It is also true that Singapore Laws makes Singapore a safe country. If any one breaks the law, then no liniency should be shown to offenders.
But in the case of David Hartanto Widjaja, can we really be sure that he is one of Singapore Law offenders ? David H.W. is already dead and he can no longer speak for himself to explain what really happened on that very date. The only person who knows 100% about what have happened is Prof Chan Kap Luk. Considering that within one week after David’s death Zhou Zheng the assistant of Prof Chan committed suicide, this makes the case even more suspicious.
I have no relationship with any of the individuals concerned. I just want to write my imagination :
On that day David met Prof Chan to discuss about his final year project. The discussion became later on a harsh quarrel. Prof Chan lost his temper and took the knife that he usually kept in his office. David startled to see the knife, he stood up from his chair, this action made him bend a little bit forward. At the same time Prof Chan swung the knife, that caused a slash on David’s neck. David wanted to defend himself and tried to snatch the knife away from Prof Chan but this effort made him get even more wounds. Zhou Zheng saw what was happening. David cried for help, but Zhou Zheng stood still. That’s why when David had the chance to get out from Prof Chan’s office, he ran away and screamed “They want to kill me!”, because if there was only Prof Chan, he would have said “He wants to kill me!”. At that time what he had in mind was only how to get down as fast as possible. When he look down he saw the glass roof and said mostly to himself “Should I jump?” David used to play computer game so much, he often saw an action of a man jump from upstairs to a canopy and then land further safely on the ground. His brain could no longer think properly due to the lost of so much blood, he could not make a good estimation of the distance. He might also lose conciousness while leaning forward to see the glass roof and fell down to his death.
David is no longer a threat to anybody, but Prof Chan is still living. If Prof Chan is really used to threat his students with or without knife, this will be a disadvantage for Singapore/Singaporeans. I just wish that the Singapore Police and Dept of Justice could find the truth. I do believe that David was not a murderer, he would never want to murder neither other people nor himself. Please let him rest in peace.
- cyntha -

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All i know about indonesian students here in Singapore, whether they have scholarship or revoked or not they don't really care, because their parents could actually pay it with no sweat.

Finger crossed, he's just too smart, and singapore is a fragile country so they have to make everything confidential for the sake of national security.

11:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape