Hoarder mum and son arrested for obstructing authorities from clearing rubbish
The mother and son hoard so much that piles of rubbish have overflowed from their 20th-storey flat into another unit two storeys below.
The other flat, which belongs to the woman's mother-in-law, also became packed with rubbish from floor to ceiling.
Their neighbours in Block 222, Toa Payoh Lorong 8 call the hoarders "terrors" because of their aggressive behaviour. They shout at people just for looking at them.
On Monday, they lived up to that name when the authorities went to the four-room flat of the mother-in-law, a frail 91-year-old woman known only as Madam Tan, and they refused to let them remove the hoarded items.
The mother, 55, and her son, 20, created such a scene, shouting and gesticulating loudly, that the police arrested them and took them away in a police car.
The New Paper understands that they were later released on bail.
Cleaners from the town council then moved in to clear the rubbish from Madam Tan's flat.
They were there from 11am to 3pm but could clear only part of the living room.
When TNP went to the block yesterday, the authorities were there as the cleaners continued clearing Madam Tan's unit.
The area's MP, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, told TNP that he had initiated the joint operation that was coordinated by the HDB and involved the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Potong Pasir Town Council and the police.
Mr Sitoh said: "I received a lot of complaints from the residents about how things are stashed in the flat... it was a safety hazard."
A neighbour, who gave her name only as Nicole, described her life as a "living hell" ever since the hoarding started almost 10 years ago.
"My life has been a daily war with cockroaches that crawl around the outside of their flat every day," said the 21-year-old, who is unemployed.
"Whenever I come out of the lift and walk past their flat, I get very scared of the cockroaches."
She also keeps her windows closed as the pests often try to enter her unit.
"Even with the windows closed, I spray insecticide every month," she said.
"Sometimes I hear a sound at the window and think that someone had dropped something. But it's often a cockroach flying smack into my window panes."
Nicole also said that the family often made a din late into the night, raising their voices and causing a disturbance to the neighbours.
"Even at midnight, they would shout in Hokkien till about 1am," she said. "My life has been a living hell."
Another resident said that his discarded household items have ended up outside Madam Tan's unit.
Several neighbours also said they were frightened of the mother and son because of their aggressive behaviour.
The son, they said, was particularly prone to violence. TNP saw an example of it yesterday when the man, angry over the removal of the items, ripped off notices near the lift landing.
A neighbour, who declined to be named out of fear, agreed that they were terrors of the block and that it took little to set them off.
"All you have to do is glance at them and if they catch you looking, you're going to get it from them.
"They would just start shouting and acting aggressively," she said.
None of them would give their full names for fear of repercussions and would look warily around first before they agreed to talk.
Madam Tan's daughter, Madam Tan Lim Chon, 66, who lives elsewhere, said she goes to the unit frequently to look after the elderly woman.
She was upset by her sister-in-law and nephew's hoarding and said they often went to her mother's unit to stay because there was no more space in their flat.
She said she had tried many times to persuade her sister-in-law to clear the mess but to no avail.
"I want the flat to be clean for my mother. The air in there is very bad for her health," she said in Mandarin.
She said she had sought help from the town council late last year to clear the flat of rubbish.
Her brother, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan and who lives elsewhere, said the hoarding began around 2005.
He would quarrel with his brother and his wife over it.
The taxi driver, 58, said: "Believe me, I've spoken to them until my voice was hoarse but I cannot change their habits."
As the clearing continued yesterday, the mother and son could be seen picking up items they wanted to salvage.
Dead cockroaches were seen all over the floor and trails of unidentified liquids had leaked from bags of trash taken from the flat.
They were later seen at the rubbish skip at the foot the block where the hoarded items had been discarded.
The woman was in tears as she picked up items.
As the authorities told her to stop, she said in Mandarin: "I bought this with my own money. How can I just throw them away?"
"My life has been a daily war with cockroaches that crawl around the outside of their flat every day."
- A neighbour, who gave her name only as Nicole
"All you have to do is glance at them and if they catch you looking, you're going to get it from them. They would just start shouting and acting aggressively."
- A neighbour, who declined to be named because she was afraid of the mother and son in Block 222 Toa Payoh