Shanmugam to help family of boy who fell from Yishun flat

Law Minister K. Shanmugam has said that there may need to be legal recourse for the family of a four-year-old boy who fell to his death from a Yishun flat last week.

The boy was alone at home with his two-year-old sister when he fell from the ninth-floor unit last Tuesday. Their grandmother had not yet arrived to look after them when their mother left for work.

Mr Shanmugam, who is also Home Affairs Minister and MP for Nee Soon GRC, said on Facebook yesterday the tragic accident could have been prevented.

The minister had visited the family on Tuesday. They had told him the contractor had not installed window grilles as promised.

"There must be steps taken against such contractors - if what the father says is correct. We must help the family to get legal recourse," said Mr Shanmugam. "It won't bring back the child, but there has to be some justice done. I have told (him) we will help find a lawyer for the family."

The victim's 40-year-old father told The Straits Times yesterday that the contractor had said the house would be in "move-in condition" by Sept 22. The family of six had to move in around then as they had to hand over their previous flat in Sembawang to the next owner.

But the contractor, Thian Boon Design & Renovation, said there had been a verbal agreement that renovations would not be completed by the time the family moved in.

A partner of the company, who wanted to known only as Mr Lau, said: "(The family) confirmed our services quite late and we had only two weeks to renovate. So I told him some work can be done only after they moved in."

But the child's father, who declined to be named, said the lights had not even been fixed when they moved in, and he had to engage a handyman to do the remaining work. The family terminated the contractor's services on Oct 4.

However, veteran lawyer Amolat Singh said it would be an uphill task in pinning liability on the contractor. "Having moved in, they should have been aware of the dangers, and taken steps to mitigate the known dangers," he said.

The four-year-old was the third of four children aged between two and 10 .

His father, who works in the security industry, said: "It was supposed to be a new beginning for us... Sometimes, we would still call his name, and his sister was asking for him.

"He shared the same birthday with my second son and we usually celebrated two birthdays together. Now, it's going to be just one."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2015, with the headline 'Shanmugam to help family of boy who fell from Yishun flat'. Print Edition | Subscribe