Stand-off leads to sleepless night
He spent the night anxiously waiting at the void deck of his block of flats. And by the time it was morning, Mr Abu Bakar Omar decided to take a day off.
The 55-year-old was among the residents of Block 508, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8, who took leave from work after having to forgo the comfort of their homes between Thursday night and Friday morning.
This was due to a stand-off between an alleged drug offender and the authorities at the HDB block.
When The New Paper arrived at the scene yesterday at about 9.30am, the stand-off was still ongoing.
About 15 residents were seated below the block in a variety of chairs provided by grassroots members and the town council.
Mr Abu Bakar, who was at the void deck when The New Paper met him, said he was tired and could not get back to his house to change into his work clothes. So he had no choice but to call in sick.
The cleaner, who lives on the seventh storey, was supposed to start work at 7am yesterday.
He and his wife were able to rest at his daughter's nearby unit but he still didn't get a restful night's sleep.
Though his daughter's unit is in the same block, her household was not required to evacuate because it was at the other end of the block.
"I was very anxious because of all the commotion," he said.
"So for most of the night, I joined the other residents downstairs to see if there were any updates."
He said that at about 4am, he tried to get some sleep.
"Even then, my mind was still on everything that is happening. All because of this, I can't go to work this morning."
Like Mr Abu Bakar, nurse Misha Kaur also took the day off.
She said her family roughed it out at the playground at the foot of the block overnight.
"I took the day off because I didn't get to sleep at all last night," said Ms Misha, whose family lives on the ninth storey. The nurse, who is in her 40s, said that at about 8.30pm, she heard knocking on her door.
"Next thing I knew, the SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force) was at my door and they asked if they could enter to put up a safety net.
"There was a strong smell of gas in the air and they asked us to go downstairs for our own safety."
Mr Ang Hin Kee, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, who joined residents at the void deck of block from about 10pm on Thursday, told TNP at 10am yesterday that residents who could not return to their homes were allowed to rest below the block or at the nearby Cheng San Community Club.
TNP understands that a few families with children were able to rest in the air-conditioned music room of the community club.
Grassroots members also set up chairs and provided food and drinks for residents who were unable to return to their homes.
For those who wanted to use the toilet, the grassroots members accompanied them to use the toilet at the community club.
The residents were able to return to their homes only after police broke into the unit and arrested the suspect at around 10am yesterday.
Mr Ang said the authorities took a long time because they wanted to ensure everyone's safety.
For Ms Misha, she was just relieved that the whole episode was over.
"I'm just glad nobody is hurt."
I was very anxious because of all the commotion. So for most of the night, I joined the other residents downstairs to see if there were any updates.
- Resident Abu Bakar Omar