Sleepless in Pasir Ris as 'neighbour from hell' returns

Mr Liew Chien Siong's flat, which once had a window blind dangling outside, forcing the town council to cordon off an area below the unit for safety reasons.
Mr Liew Chien Siong's flat, which once had a window blind dangling outside, forcing the town council to cordon off an area below the unit for safety reasons.PHOTO: ST FILE

Residents at Block 612 Elias Road complain of being plagued again by loud noises at night

A Pasir Ris resident who was arrested last year after making loud banging noises in his flat round the clock is back at it again.

The Straits Times learnt that Mr Liew Chien Siong, 34, has resumed his banging of "solid objects" against his walls and ceiling, giving his neighbours sleepless nights.

Some have also reported being verbally abused by Mr Liew, while others have moved out to escape from him.

The ruckus is not new. The jobless man, who lives alone, had been making such sounds in his second-storey flat at Block 612 in Elias Road for five years.

LIVING IN FEAR

We don't feel safe in our own home. We don't even dare to open our (corridor) windows now.

MS SITI NORAIDILAH SARHAK, who made a police report after Mr Liew knocked on her window and hurled vulgarities at her family.

After Housing Board inspectors found damage on two walls in his home in November last year, he was arrested under the Mental Health Act and referred to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for assessment.

It is understood that he was discharged in January. While it was peace and quiet for a while, the banging returned about four months ago, neighbours said.

"We thought it was over and we were so happy. But it was false hope," said driver Othman Babjan, 62, who lives a floor above Mr Liew.

Neighbours said the banging is not as loud as before, but is still enough to wake them up at night.

Administrative manager Siti Noraidilah Sarhak, 27, lives in the unit next to Mr Liew's. "I cannot sleep well. It's been so many years already. I really cannot tahan," she said, using the Malay word for endure.

At least two households have moved out because of the noise.

Said Madam Rafidah Badar, 51, who used to live next to Mr Liew and moved out to Pasir Ris Drive 1 with her husband and two children earlier this month: "Every day, there was knocking. It was not a good environment to live in. Sometimes he would even shout expletives at us when we walked past his flat."

Ms Siti made a police report in August after Mr Liew knocked on her window, which faces the common corridor, and hurled vulgarities at her family. "We don't feel safe in our own home. We don't even dare to open our (corridor) windows now."

Responding to queries, a Housing Board spokesman said HDB officers and the police had visited Mr Liew in February. He accepted their offer to repair the damaged walls and the repairs were completed in May. "We will contact Mr Liew to further clarify the latest feedback on noise nuisance and ascertain the condition of his flat," said the spokesman.

While the HDB now has the power to enter flats for investigation and urgent repairs, the spokesman said this would only be a "last resort", after all other methods to get the flat owner to cooperate have been exhausted.

She said: "Mr Liew had earlier responded to our offer of assistance and we will continue to reach out to him together with the relevant parties and agencies."

The police also said that they are working with grassroots leaders and the HDB to address residents' concerns.

However, Elias View Residents' Committee executive member Simon Tan said efforts to approach Mr Liew have been futile.

"When we try to visit him, he doesn't open the door. When we see him, he just ignores us and walks away. What can we do?"

Mr Liew did not respond when The Straits Times knocked on his door recently. A spokesman for the Institute of Mental Health said a case manager has been assigned to help Mr Liew.

She was unable to provide details of his condition due to patient confidentiality. She added: "His case manager has been working closely with community agencies to ensure he is coping and managing in the community."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2015, with the headline 'Sleepless in Pasir Ris as 'neighbour from hell' returns'. Print Edition | Subscribe