Questions remain over woman, 80, who died alone in her condo unit
She had not been seen since January 2019, but no action appears to have been taken until recently
By all accounts, Madam Lily Loh, a woman in her 80s who lived with her pet dog in her Katong condominium, did not have any visitors.
The last time anyone saw her was in January last year, when a neighbour spotted her.
Letters began to accumulate outside her apartment door, three in April last year, according to a neighbour who spoke and provided photographs to media website Mothership.sg.
Two were from PUB regarding a change in the water meter, and another appeared to be court papers addressed to her from the condominium management dated April 17 last year.
With no sign of Madam Loh, the concerned neighbour eventually shared this with a resident who knew Member of Parliament for Mountbatten, Mr Lim Biow Chuan, whose jurisdiction the estate falls under.
The resident informed Mr Lim on Nov 1, and he forwarded the information to the police.
Last Monday, the police went to the elderly woman's unit at The Shore Residences in Amber Road near Katong Shopping Centre. There, they found remains believed to be that of a human and a dog.
Preliminary investigations do not suspect foul play.
The incident throws up a number of questions. Could Madam Loh's death have been prevented? Could the alarm have been raised earlier?
And even if her death could not have been prevented, why did it take so long - nearly two years from the time she was last seen - for her body to be discovered?
According to Mr Lim and several media reports, there had been attempts to engage Madam Loh over the last two years.
Mr Lim told The New Paper last week that the management corporation of the condominium had asked the police to check on Madam Loh two years ago, but she became agitated when the police visited her. The police left after ascertaining there was nothing amiss.
A resident who spoke to The Straits Times said a month after she last saw Madam Loh in January last year, she noticed a "weird smell" in the common hallway but it was gone a few weeks later.
The resident said the condo management was notified of Madam Loh's disappearance.
The condominium management told TNP that it filed a police report on Oct 1 this year, after it failed to contact Madam Loh or any of her relatives to resolve some management issues.
"The police subsequently launched an investigation and on Nov 23 discovered that Ms Loh had passed away in her unit."
The codo added they generally try to respect the privacy of their residents and typically do not interfere in their lives.
But once they were alerted by the community of Ms Loh’s mental and physical condition, they started involving the local MP, social services and the police since August 2018 to see if they could offer assistance.
The condo added that the matter is being investigated by the police and requested the media to respect the privacy of Ms Loh, her family and all residents of The Shore Residences.
It also sent a notice to residents, saying it is cooperating fully with all the relevant authorities and urged them to redirect media queries to the managing agent.
When asked why it took such a long time for action to be taken, Mr Lim said: "It really depends on what was the actual concern raised and when that concern was raised... unless there is a missing person report by her next of kin, the police may not be able to do much."
Mr Lim said there could have been many reasons why Madam Loh was not at home.
"She may have had relatives who decided to take her into their home, she may have been placed into a nursing home, she may have travelled to another country to stay with a friend.
"The police would have to investigate before they decide whether they have a valid reason to forcibly effect entry into the unit."