'Irregular behaviour' by Toa Payoh couple sparks fears among residents

Residents at Block 55, Toa Payoh Lorong 5 are spooked by the ‘irregular behaviour’ of an elderly couple in their 70s,  living in a rental flat on the 10th floor. 

The elderly woman had also been spotted hurling burning items over the parapet and splashing a seemingly corrosive liquid outside her home, causing many residents to be concerned about their safety, reports The Straits Times.

The metal gates and a stretch of corridor near the couple’s unit have been corroded, exposing bricks, metal pipes and a pitted floor. 

The bizarre incidents surrounding the two have been ongoing for over two years, revealed a next-door neighbour to the couple. 

Some days, she would find ashes and salt on her front door and windows, or even her laundry on the corridor covered in oil. 

A 40-year-old housewife, who asked to remain anonymous said that she has been hearing the woman shouting loudly every morning at around 7am for the past two months. 

She said:

“I can’t make out what she says. So I just assume that she’s just mentally unsound and left it at that.”

According to the housewife, two officers had visited her unit on Friday (Jan 5).

“A policewoman asked me if I’ve had any problems with my neighbours, and I said no. She later showed me some pictures of the corridor outside the woman’s flat and said that some neighbours had complained of her splashing things there.

“I took a look and was shocked. It looked as though somebody had splashed corrosive liquid there.”

When she and her husband went up to the 10th floor to take a look at the elderly’s couple flat, they were shocked.

She revealed:

“The area outside the woman’s flat was a mess. There was a strong chemical smell in the air and we felt a stinging sensation in our eyes. We quickly left the area after that.”

Another neighbour who declined to be named said he saw the woman throwing burning items over the parapet, adding:

“I fear for my safety and that of the children living in this block.”

Lianhe Wanbao reporters later visited the couple’s unit and spoke to the woman, who commented that her next-door neighbour had been intentionally pouring faeces and urine at her unit for the past two to three years.

Thus she has to scrub and wash the place with salt water every day. 

She also alleged that they would use a hammer to hit her metal gates and the wall outside her unit.

However, the alleged neighbour, Mr Ye, 80, has denied the claims, instead saying that the elderly woman’s four to five scrubbing sessions each day have corroded the corridor walls and her metal gates. 

He added that he dared not open his windows or door, and has called the police over 30 times in past seven years over his neighbours’ weird behaviour. 

Mr Ye revealed that he had suffered a stroke in the past, and was afraid that he might slip and fall as the corridors were constantly wet from the woman’s washing. 

In response to media queries, the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council said that the resident does not pose any danger to herself or others, and is working with various agencies to help resolve the matter. 

In a statement issued on Saturday, town council chairman Chong Kee Hiong said that grassroots leaders who visited the elderly woman’s flat discovered that she had used salt, vinegar and baking powder to scrub the wall and floor repeatedly, in a bid to ‘get rid of spirits’.

She would also throw cold ash over the parapet.

The agencies are aware of her actions, and there have been efforts to help the woman over the past few months.

Mr Chong, however, said that the woman has ‘adamantly refused offers of help’ despite the agencies repeated attempts. 

He said:

“The police are monitoring if there are adequate grounds to compel her to seek professional help, but their current assessment is that she poses no danger to herself or residents.”

Although repair works were carried out, the woman continued washing the corridors.

The agencies involved also noted that the couple had been staying in the unit for over 10 years, and relocating them would not solve the underlying problem.

Said Mr Chong:

“It would be unfair to the husband to simply transfer the problem to another precinct and this may exacerbate the wife's condition.”

However, alternative housing arrangements are also in the works, especially if her behaviour does not show improvement after treatment.

The agencies also took the chance to emphasise that they would take the safety of all residents into account in dealing with the issue and expressed hope that the situation would reach a satisfactory outcome.