Family suffers stink and filth from sewage for two days

Sewage water floods Ang Mo Kio flat - on 
both Saturday & Sunday

DISGUSTING: Sewage water flooding Madam Tan Siew Tin's master bedroom toilet last weekend.
DISGUSTING: The family of three spent hours doing a thorough clean-up of their flat.

Over the past week, this family has been sleeping with the stench of sewage in the air.

Hawker Tan Siew Tin, 53, told The New Paper yesterday that raw sewage flowed out of a clogged pipe in the master bedroom toilet on two separate occasions last Saturday and Sunday.

On both evenings, the foul-smelling murky liquid covered the floor of her three-room flat on the second storey of Block 606, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5.

She said the stench still lingers in the flat she shares with her husband and their 17-year-old son.

"For the past week, I have been spraying disinfectant in the flat to keep it clean," said Madam Tan. "I also spray perfume in all the rooms to get rid of the smell. I hope the stench will go away soon."

The family's ordeal began last Saturday.

Madam Tan was watching TV in the living room at around 9pm when her son came out of his bedroom and saw water covering the living room floor.

Madam Tan, who has been living in the unit for about six years, said: "He asked me if I had been pouring water onto the floor and I said, 'no'. Puzzled, we went to investigate and found out to our horror that the water came from a pipe in the master bedroom toilet."

They called the Ang Mo Kio Town Council and contractors arrived about an hour later to fix the problem.

When the flow of filthy water stopped, she cleaned her flat from top to bottom and only completed the chore at 12.30am the next day.

But the foul episode was far from over.

At around 7pm on Sunday, the whole family was sitting on the living room floor watching TV when they noticed their clothes getting soaked.

They got up and saw that the floor was wet - a second time.

Upset, they rushed to the master bedroom toilet and saw that water was again flowing out of the affected pipe.

She said: "The flow was stronger than the one on Saturday. I was shocked and was not prepared for this at all."

All three immediately ran out of the flat as they feared that the unit would soon be flooded.

They called the town council again. Ang Mo Kio Town Council confirmed that the household called the Essential Maintenance Service Unit (EMSU) hotline last Saturday and Sunday.

Its spokesman said that the EMSU deployed contractors to the flat to rectify the problem and the water subsided.

Responding to queries from TNP, the Housing Board said its appointed contractor found rags and napkins inside the block's main waste pipe after flushing it on Tuesday. (See report on facing page.)

It added that these items could have choked the pipe, resulting in water flowing into the flat.


The HDB spokesman said: "We have since inspected the flat and confirmed with the resident that the issue has been resolved."

No other units in the block were affected.

Madam Tan said she did a thorough clean-up of her flat for the second time at around 11pm on Sunday.

She added that she was so disturbed by the whole episode, she had a nightmare that evening.

"I dreamt that I got out of bed and found that the floor was still wet, damaging my personal items, including my mobile phone."

"There are no signs of damage to items like my wardrobe and altar table for now, and I hope it stays that way.

"I just hope this terrible incident won't happen again."

"For the past week, I have been spraying disinfectant in the flat to keep it clean. I also spray perfume in all the rooms to get rid of the smell. I hope the stench will go away soon.

- Madam Tan Siew Tin

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Chai Chee flat fire: Steamboat trouble, peanut puzzle

Peanuts found all over living room 
of Chai Chee flat after fire. Flat owner says: 'I like eating peanuts'

MESS: Mr Tan Seah Liang and his damaged flat, which had a sack of peanuts in the living room and peanuts strewn all over floor.

His neighbours are used to the sight of steam coming out of his kitchen windows and the smell of boiled peanuts filling the air at their Chai Chee Street block.

But yesterday morning, they were shocked when a fire broke out in Mr Tan Seah Liang's 11th-storey unit at Block 45.

The 63-year-old cabby, who was out at the time, rushed home to find the living room of his three-room flat reduced to a burnt mess, with soot covering the other rooms.

He told The New Paper that he had been heating up a steamboat pot of leftovers on the dining table and had forgotten to turn it off when he left home for his shift at 7am.

He realised his mistake only at around 10pm when a neighbour called to say his flat was on fire.

No one was home as Mr Tan's wife, a housewife, had left home before him.

When TNP entered the flat at 11am after the blaze, we saw a sack of peanuts leaning against a wall in the living room. There were also peanuts strewn all over the room.

At least three gas cylinders were seen in the soot-covered kitchen. It also contained large containers and what looked like industrial kitchen equipment.


The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted to the fire at 9.37am. SCDF officers forced their way into the flat and extinguished the fire with one water jet.

No injuries were reported.

Mr Tan's neighbour on the same floor, Madam Amanah Ali, 64, said she got a fright when she heard an explosion at about 9am.

When Madam Amanah opened her front door, she did not see anything amiss.

The retiree said: "Then I smelled burning rubber so I rushed into my bedroom to check my (electrical) plugs and again. I didn't notice anything."

The smell got stronger and soon, another neighbour knocked on Madam Amanah's door to get her to evacuate. By then, smoke had filled the corridor.

Madam Amanah said: "The smoke was so black and thick, I could hardly see past it. I quickly asked my neighbour if anyone had called the SCDF. Just as I asked her, I noticed SCDF personnel trying to force their way into the flat."

When asked about the peanuts, she said: "I don't know the owner very well, but I do know that he boils peanuts. I smell boiled peanuts every day. Every morning he leaves home with the bags of peanuts for sale."

Mr Tan, however, denied this.

"I have all these peanuts in my house because I like eating peanuts.

"I eat peanuts every day so I thought why not just buy one sack from a factory for my own consumption?" he said.

Another neighbour, who lives in the unit directly above the burnt flat, said: "It is a norm for me to see some steam outside my window coming up from Mr Tan's flat because he boils peanuts every morning and the smell fills my flat."

The neighbour, who wanted to be known only as Ms Tan, said she was at work when the fire broke out.

She rushed home after her husband called her about the fire. She saw cracks on the floor of her flat and on the wall next to her front door.

When TNP visited her, she was cleaning her flat. The cloth she had used to wipe her table tops had turned a dark grey from the soot.

She said: "When I took my shoes off, I jumped when my bare feet touched the floor because it was burning hot."

Mr Tan has lived in the flat for over 30 years and will most likely move into his brother's flat.

"I just renewed my insurance on Oct 20. At least I have one less thing to be worried about since the cost of the damage will be taken care off.

"I am also thankful that the gas cylinders in the kitchen didn't explode."

But he is concerned about the coming festive season.

"Chinese New Year is coming soon. How are my relatives going to come to my flat for visiting?"

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Dengue cases expected to rise this year

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has warned that the number of dengue infections will be high this year, and cases are expected to spike earlier than in previous years.

This is due to high numbers in what is usually the low season, increases in the mosquito population and a change in the dominant viral strain.

Yesterday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli visited Singapore's biggest dengue cluster with 195 cases, which is also in his constituency of Tampines GRC.

NEA officers have found 86 breeding sites there so far, including 60 in homes and one in a construction site.

Mr Masagos wrote on Facebook: "We found mosquitoes and larvae in some of the Gravitraps, indicating a high level of mosquito activity... We need to prevent mosquito breeding. But NEA officers and town councils cannot achieve this alone."

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About the case

Dexmon Chua.

Material analyst Dexmon Chua was reported missing by his family on Dec 29, 2013.

His father found his glasses and droplets of blood on his car at a nearby Choa Chu Kang multi-storey carpark after he did not return home the previous night and could not be reached.

Chia Kee Chen, 55, was arrested on Dec 31, 2013. The next day, he led officers to a live-firing area in Lim Chu Kang, where Mr Dexmon's decomposing body was found. Mr Chua's arms and legs were bound.

Chia has been charged with murder and abduction. His case is still pending.

The third man, Indonesian national Febri Irwansyah Djatmiko, 33, is still at large.