Mental health check for Pasir Ris 'neighbour from hell'

Apart from banging on walls and keeping his neighbours up, Elias Road resident Liew Chien Siong had also left a window blind dangling precariously, forcing the town council to cordon off an area below his unit.
Apart from banging on walls and keeping his neighbours up, Elias Road resident Liew Chien Siong had also left a window blind dangling precariously, forcing the town council to cordon off an area below his unit.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

A 33-year-old jobless man who had been keeping his neighbours at a Paris Ris block of flats awake with very loud banging for the last five years was arrested on Wednesday night.

The Straits Times understands that Mr Liew Chien Siong, who lives alone in a second-floor unit at Block 612 in Elias Road, was referred to the Institute of Mental Health for a psychiatric assessment.

Police confirmed yesterday that he was arrested at around 10.20pm, under Section 7 of the Mental Health Act.

No more details were provided, but the section allows police to apprehend "any person who is reported to be mentally disordered and is believed to be dangerous to himself or other persons".

Neighbours whom The Straits Times spoke to were relieved after having had to endure the noise and other issues caused by the man. The Housing Board had previously confirmed that it was first alerted to the problem in 2011.

Since August, Mr Liew had left a window blind dangling dangerously from his kitchen window, forcing the town council to cordon off an area below his unit. It is also alleged that he assaulted a neighbour's son, who is in his 20s.

Said inspection officer Ismail Jan, 64, who lives in a unit above: "Every day he would be using some solid object to hit his walls and ceiling. The knocking got louder, more frequent and fiercer in the past one week.

"I couldn't tahan (endure) any more and I called the police again on Monday, at about 4am. I told the police with the persistent knocking, the block will collapse one day."

That morning, police sought the assistance of Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers to force their way into Mr Liew's flat, said an SCDF spokesman. But no arrest was made.

The noise continued through to Wednesday afternoon, said Madam Salimah Raja Idris, 50, who lives next-door to Mr Liew. At 5.30pm, neighbours heard loud banging on the man's door.

"'Open! Open!' the police shouted. Surprisingly, the man opened his door and even stepped out of his flat," said Madam Salimah. "I later saw him talking to the officers, about five to six of them, at the void deck of the adjacent block. Around 9pm, I saw the man returning to his flat with the officers. At least one of them was from HDB."

The housewife added that she had seen the HDB officer making frequent visits to the flat after The Straits Times last Saturday described the plight of those living in the block. Until then, the authorities had drawn a blank in their efforts to deal with him.

"Every time the police or HDB officers came and knocked on his door, he would not open," said Madam Salimah.

Mr Siew Wen Chang, property manager of Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, admitted the problem had been going on for many years. "As the noise is within the flat and happens at wee hours, it is for HDB or the police to follow up," said Mr Siew.

Now the man's neighbours are thankful for the quiet.

"I didn't know he was arrested on Wednesday night. No wonder it was so peaceful that night. My headache was gone and I slept very well," said a 50-year-old housewife who wanted to be known only as Madam Rafidah. She lives next door to Mr Liew.

With the blind no longer dangling from Mr Liew's window, the cordon under his unit was removed yesterday.

joycel@sph.com.sg