Monday, October 5, 2015

Letter to The New Paper: DIFFICULT NEIGHBOUR : Offender could have mental issues

My letter to The New Paper on the above subject appears today –Monday 5th October 2015 on page 10

It must be a nightmare for Madam Yeo Choon Lan, having to put up with a neighbour who, for months, has been throwing faeces from a window in their block (“It’s so gross!”, (The New Paper, Sept 28).

A healthy and clean environment is crucial to make our homes the sanctuary that we need to unwind after a hard day’s work or studying in school. 

Having to close up her kitchen windows will worsen the living environment and could adversely affect the health of Madam Yeo and her neighbours. 

At first glance, it appears that the offender is polluting the environment and causing harassment in the neighbourhood.  But we have to ask ourselves these questions:  Would anyone in the correct frame of mind throw faeces out of the window for as long as four months – at times thrice a day?  Could one or more of the residents be struggling with untreated mental health issues?

Both the National Environment Agency and the Housing and Development Board should be empowered to get the assistance of the Community Psychiatry Department of the Institute of Mental Health to find out if there are any psychological issues that are causing someone to behave in this manner.



 With our Government leaders calling for its citizens to look out for one another, it is imperative that active citizenry becomes part and parcel of our lives.  To this end, I propose that all government agencies scan the newspapers everyday to look out for any uncivic behaviour that threatens either the environment or the well-being of the residents in the heartlands.  Once social cohesion or an unhealthy environment is threatened, the authorities concerned and its partners must be alerted so that the problems can be nipped in the bud.  Agencies that read such reports should step forward willingly to help rather than being directed to do so.  Sometimes, it is necessary to be a Kaypoh (Busybody) to resolve issues. We should never turn a blind eye to those who need a helping hand.  I would like to see the Singapore Spirit come alive in this context.

And now that PM Lee has appointed Coordinating Ministers to oversee the various ministries, I hope such social problems will become a thing of the past. At the tail end, the Government has to be open to learning from people who have walked the journey and who are willing to volunteer their services.  Education on mental illness must be an on-going relentless effort to help the marginalised in our society. That’s what makes for an inclusive society!


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