Residents and guards clash at Kitchener condo

Police called to settle at least three disputes at City Square Residences

Walk-in residents have to pass through the gates before the security personnel (in red) at the condominium. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Walk-in residents have to pass through the gates before the security personnel (in red) at the condominium. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Ms Foo Sharlane with her fiance Max Sebastian Lee. She said that she was denied access to her home at City Square Residences because she had forgotten her access pass. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Police were called to City Square Residences on at least three occasions last weekend, after disputes broke out between the condominium's security guards, residents and visitors.

Two of the three incidents involved violence, with an ambulance having to be called in and two visitors to the condo in Kitchener Link arrested on Sunday.

The first incident happened on National Day, when Ms Foo Sharlane, a resident, was not allowed to enter the building as she had forgotten her access pass.

Because of illegal sub-letting, security checks at the 910-unit condominium had been tightened, requiring residents to carry an access pass showing their photograph. (see other story)

Ms Foo, 25, tried showing her identification card, which had her City Square Residence address. But the security officer still refused to let her through, she told The Straits Times.

A security supervisor was called to the scene.

"When the supervisor came and saw me, he said 'I know girls like you and I know what you are doing inside the building. I have caught you sneaking into the building and I have told you to stay away'," recalled Ms Foo, a Singaporean, who moved into the estate with her fiance last December. "People who walked past us heard what the officer said. Everyone was looking at me like I was here illegally. It's just so humiliating," said Ms Foo, the head of sales and marketing in a fashion firm, who added that she had never seen the supervisor before.

She said she stood by the guard post as she tried frantically to reach her fiance, who was at home.

When Mr Max Sebastian Lee saw he had 12 missed calls and 20 text messages, he rushed downstairs with Ms Foo's access pass.

"I was expecting maybe an apology. Instead we were met with an aggressive posture and swearing. I was taken aback," said Mr Lee, 32, who is from Britain.

The senior consultant in a shipping firm said he and Ms Foo tried to walk back to their block when the supervisor, identified by the couple as Mr Hazzin Omar, hit his head from behind with a walkie talkie.

Another guard pulled him from behind, and two more grabbed his arms, as he fell to the ground.

Said Ms Foo: "The supervisor was shouting "Pin him down! Pin him down!"

Police were alerted to the incident at about 3.20pm and confirmed that a case of voluntarily causing hurt had been reported.

That night, another resident, Mr Mike Gleisten, 28, had a brush with two security officers when they objected to his barbecue party going on past 10pm.

Mr Gleisten, a US citizen, who works as an account manager and is a friend of Mr Lee and Ms Foo, said the two officers banged on his door after midnight on Sunday the next day, to demand the names of all the guests who had been at his party and their contact details.

Mr Gleisten refused to give them the names, and called the police after angry words were exchanged.

The condominium manager declined to comment, as police investigations are ongoing, he said. The guards are hired by GATES PCM Integrated Services (GPIS).

The security supervisor, Mr Hazzin, also declined to comment.

But the 29-year-old, who oversees security operations in the estate, told The Straits Times that he was assaulted by two visitors last Sunday, after they refused to provide their identification details as part of security procedures.

"The man took out his ID card, slammed it on the table and threw it at me," said Mr Hazzin, who said he was seated inside the security post and communicating with the two visitors through a window.

"I was upset and I threw his ID card out of the window."

The visitor's female companion then splashed water from her water bottle at Mr Hazzin, as her friend threw his umbrella at him.

The act was all captured on closed-circuit television camera, said Mr Hazzin.

He said he was taken to hospital by an ambulance.

Police confirmed the incident, which happened at about 6.15pm. The two foreign visitors were arrested for a rash act and causing a nuisance in public.

Police said investigations are ongoing.

Illegal subletting of apartments a problem at condominium

THE illegal partitioning of apartments to create more units for rent and short-term leasing has been a problem at City Square Residences.

On Thursday, The Straits Times team was offered a bedroom for rent at $1,250 a month. No deposit or minimum stay was required.

Under Urban Redevelopment Authority guidelines on leasing and subletting, private apartments are meant for stays of six months or longer. Any violation may result in a fine of up to $200,000, a jail term of up to 12 months, or both.

Many of the residents interviewed were staying for less than six months. However, most seemed unaware they were breaking the rules and could not understand why they were not given access cards, without which they could not use facilities such as the gym.

Security checks were beefed up to deal with the problem.

Each of the 910 units is given a number of photograph access cards, according to the size of the unit.

Photos of property agents who had allegedly leased out units illegally were even put up at the gates so that the guards could stop them from entering.

Mr Hazzin Omar, who oversees the security operations at the estate, said: "Everyone who stays here legitimately would have their names registered with the management, even if they are not issued with a photo access pass.

"Sometimes, we would ask to see their tenancy agreements. We would also go to their apartments to check on the headcount.

"Those whose names are not registered with the management office would be asked to leave immediately."

Resident Foo Sharlane said she often sees residents being evicted with their suitcases.


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