Singapore

Mentally unsound man starts fire outside mum's flat

Mentally unsound man with history of violence starts fire outside mum's flat

He was pacing in his mum's Bukit Batok flat for about an hour with lighters.

Mr Aw Yong Chiew, 58, who is mentally unsound, had visited his mother that afternoon, but had become agitated after a phone call with his son, who is in his 20s.

After the call, Madam Lum Yoke Ying, 75, said Mr Aw told her he wanted to "chop" his ex-wife.

Wearing three T-shirts, he took some candles from the kitchen and went outside her four-room flat at Block 145, Bukit Batok Street 11.

Said Madam Lum: "I was scared. I didn't know what he was going to do."

Mr Aw, who is unemployed, took off his T-shirts and burned them along with two umbrellas at around 8.30pm on Monday.

The fire spread to some Chinese New Year decorations and a bicycle.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force put out the fire with an extinguisher and Mr Aw was arrested under The Mental Health Act.

Madam Lum, who was at home with her maid and three grandchildren, said she feared for her family when her son acted up.

CHILDREN

CHARRED: (Above) Rescue officers extinguishing the fire.

She went outside and locked the metal gate to make sure he did not go in to set the flat on fire. The three grandchildren, aged three to 11, hid in a room to escape the smoke.

Madam Lum then fled to her neighbours' unit when he was not looking to ask them to call the police.

"I didn't want him to see me," said Madam Lum.

After he was arrested, she said: "I could hear his constant yelling, telling me he knew I was the one who called the police and he would come to get me."

Madam Lum and her other son, Mr Aw Heng Siah, 43, said they have had to cope with his brother's violent streak for nine years.

The younger Mr Aw, who is an engineer and also lives in the unit with his family, said his brother has been in and out of the Institute of Mental Health.

He suffers from hallucinations and has been acting strange ever since he returned from a trip to Indonesia nine years ago.

"He came back holding something that looked like a charcoal and told us he was a god," Mr Aw said.

"There was once he pinned down my mother's leg in the middle of the night. He said that she was a scorpion and he needed to pin her."

Mr Aw Yong Chiew has also allegedly slashed his ex-wife with a kitchen knife.

Madam Lum said: "Her hands and legs were cut. There was a lot of blood and she had to be brought to the hospital to get stitches."

The younger Mr Aw said: "My aunt and a neighbour had tried to take the knife from him and they were also cut."

He said he received a call from the police yesterday, informing them they could take his brother home.

Said Mr Aw: "He just committed an offence. If he comes back, he is just going to set another fire.

"Last time, even if he didn't listen to us, we would still treat him like family. But now, I consider him to be very dangerous. I'm more worried about my family," he said.

"Tomorrow my wife and I will be at work, but my children will be home. What if he comes back to set the house on fire?"

Madam Lum is also apprehensive.

"I used to be worried for him, but now I'm scared. I hope he doesn't come back," she said.

Police investigations are ongoing.

CHARRED: (Above) Rescue officers extinguishing the fire.
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