Tue, Mar 17, 2009
The New Paper
Used as 'shark bait' by her neighbour

[INNOCENT TARGET: Loan sharks have resorted to splashing paint on Madam Yeo's house to avoid CCTV cameras. ]

By Elysa Chen

SHE does not owe them money, but loan sharks are harassing her and splashing paint on her door and windows.

Apparently because her neighbour, who owes them money, has installed two closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras outside his flat.

Madam Yeo, 44, who lives with her two teenage children in a flat on Petir Road in Pasir Panjang, called up the loan sharks to tell them that they had targeted the wrong flat. The loan sharks had written a number near the spalshed paint.

She said: 'At first, I thought they made a mistake, because our unit numbers are similar.'

She was shocked to hear their reply: 'We know. We splashed paint at your house because you need to chase your neighbour for the money'.

Madam Yeo asked that we not reveal her full name as she felt it would be embarrassing, and because of the nature of work.

She holds three jobs - as a childcare centre supervisor, a tuition teacher and a part-timer at a retail store on weekends.

She said: 'It's an economic crisis. Everyone's hard-up. But it is really unfair. Don't they see that they are bullying people who are already down and out?


INNOCENT TARGET: Loan sharks have
resorted to splashing paint on Madam
Yeo's house to avoid CCTV cameras.

'The loan sharks are trying to use us as free labour. They can't do the job, so they get us to do it for them.'

Madam Yeo suspects that the loan sharks are resorting to such tactics because her neighbour installed CCTV cameras in front of his house.

Her flat is one of two units that are obscured from the view of the cameras.


She said: 'He has the CCTV and he doesn't answer the calls from the loan sharks. He protects himself but gets the rest of us into trouble.'

Around 2pm on 7 Mar, Madam Yeo heard 'shuffling' noises outside her flat.

When she went out to investigate, she realised that blue paint had been splashed all over her door, windows and floor.

This is the third time Madam Yeo and her family have been subjected to such bullying from loan sharks.

Four years ago, a big-sized man knocked on her door to demand money from her, she said.

Then, two years ago, her unit number was written all over the block.

She said: 'At that time, people were staring at us as though we were the ones who owed money.'

Both times, she went to tell her neighbour about what had happened, in the hope that he would repay his debts.

She said: 'But his reaction was just to stare at me and say, 'go and report police, lor'.'

Madam Yeo said she made police reports about the previous cases, but she did not make a report about the most recent case.

She said she felt there was little the police could do.

Last Sunday, the day after the incident, her neighbour came to her flat to clean the paint from her windows, said Madam Yeo.

She said: 'Perhaps that was his way of apologising.'

When The New Paper spoke to the neighbour, Mr Tey Chin Guan, 52, he explained that he installed the CCTV outside his house because his three children, 3, 5 and 6, like to sit at the gate.

Mr Tey, a lorry driver, said in Mandarin: 'Can you imagine, if the loan sharks come when my children are sitting there like that?

'My wife has been very scared, and has been scolding me.'

He said he is some $20,000 in debt, and owes money to 20 different loan sharks.

Mr Tey, who earns $2,000 a month, said he fell into debt because of his gambling habit, but claimed he has not gambled for the last two months.

However, even with the CCTV cameras, loan sharks are still splashing paint at his door, said Mr Tey.

'If I don't have a CCTV camera there, I may get three runners a day coming to harass my family,' he said.

'I feel paiseh (Hokkien for embarrassed) that my neighbours are suffering. That's why I went over to her flat to wipe the paint off her windows.'


This article was first published in The New Paper.

  Downturn? I'll expand my fleet
  New mall goes big on arts
  Used as 'shark bait' by her neighbour
  Getting retrenched is 'better than striking lottery'
  Mardan masters the Masters, again
  Take a pay cut, Terry
  Look at what some kids take to school