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The Straits Times
January 11, 2023
Mr Lim Quey Eng detected a foul smell drifting in from an open window of his one-room rental flat in Block 100 Aljunied Crescent on Jan 4.
When the stench persisted for five days, the retired odd job worker, 70, could not bear it any more and told a community volunteer about it on Jan 8.
The volunteer, who wanted to be known only as Ms Choo, told The Straits Times she searched five floors before linking the odour to a unit on the 10th floor, directly below Mr Lim’s flat.
The police were alerted and found a 69-year-old woman lying motionless in the flat on Jan 8. She was pronounced dead at the scene. No foul play is suspected based on preliminary investigations.
MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling, who was at the block on Sunday, said she believes the deceased lived alone.
“My grassroots volunteers knew about her and reached out to her regularly, including offering to help clean her home,” said Ms Tin.
“She didn’t really engage with us. Even on the rare occasion she opened the door, she didn’t open it fully.”
Block 100 in Aljunied Crescent has 12 floors with 198 one-room rental flats.
Residents on the 10th floor said the deceased mostly kept to herself and rarely spoke to neighbours. It is unclear if she had any relatives.
Mr Seah Quee, 64, a long-time resident who lives two units away from the deceased, said: “I’ve lived here for 13 years and spoken to her only briefly once or twice. I’ve never seen anyone visit her.”
Another resident, Mr Rahmat Asjadi, said he sometimes saw the elderly woman at the void deck feeding cats.
“When I saw her along the corridor or in the lift, I would say ‘hi’, but she wouldn’t return the greeting. Her door was always closed, and she didn’t speak to the other neighbours,” said the 54-year-old electrician.
When ST visited the block on Tuesday, many flats on the 10th floor had their doors shut, and there was an odour coming from the flat where the dead woman used to live.
Shin Min Daily News reported on Tuesday that her flat was extremely cluttered. The place had to be cleaned before her body could be removed from it.
Ms Tin said it is heartbreaking when she hears of such cases where seniors die alone at home.
“We can only keep reaching out in hopes that seniors will feel encouraged to open up and engage with us. For seniors living alone, it is also fine if they have their own social network and routine,” she said.
“We also have to respect an individual’s desire to have their own space. As much as we try, it takes two hands to clap.”