Last year's arrest of a Pasir Ris man, and his referral to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for assessment, gave his tormented neighbours some respite from him. The man had a habit of making loud banging noises in his flat round the clock, causing his neighbours sleepless nights. Reportedly, he also abused some of them verbally. At least two households moved out because of the noise. Back home after his discharge, he behaved himself for a while before resuming what can only be called an obsessive compulsive need to make banging noises. They are not as loud as before, but are bad enough to disturb his neighbours at night.
It must appear astonishing that this man can act with such brazen disdain for the minimum laws of civility that make residential life possible, particularly in densely populated public housing estates. The fact that he is getting away with his acutely anti-social behaviour could be emboldening him. Not just his afflicted neighbours but also Singaporeans at large will wonder how this is possible in a society which is highly regarded for its no-nonsense approach to law and order.
Admittedly, jurisdictional considerations govern the scope and degree of intervention by the chief agencies involved: the police, the Housing Board (HDB) and grassroots organisations. However, it is essential that they work more closely together to stop the man from disturbing the quiet that his neighbours are entitled to. Given that he is a loner, it perhaps is impracticable to involve any family members he might have. The HDB could have to exercise its power to enter his flat, while the IMH case manager assigned to him must play an active role. He might need help: His neighbours certainly do.