Flats 'dirtier than a rubbish dump'

Flats 'dirtier than a rubbish dump'
CHALLENGING: (Above) Mr Lim Lye Soon (in blue shirt) lost his wife about six years ago. The Lim children are believed to be Institute of Mental Health patients.
PHOTO: The New Paper

The old man and his elderly daughter sat in the dimly lit and crowded living room, amid soggy cardboard scraps, heaps of plastic bottles, loose cables and an altar with open flames.

Scores of cockroaches scurried across the items. There were 50 cockroaches in one plastic bag and another 15 in a metal cup.

Half a dozen crawled around an open pot of cooked rice on a counter top.

Neighbours said the family, consisting of the man, Mr Lim Lye Soon, 83, his daughter, Ms Lim Siew Tin, 52, and his son, Mr Lim Tian Wah, 49, have been living like this in their four-room flat on the ninth storey of Block 919 in Jurong West for years.

Two other sons, Mr Lim Thien Seng, 53, and Mr Lim Tuan Huat, 56, who is bedridden, live in another flat next door. It is equally cluttered and filthy.

All the siblings are believed to be Institute of Mental Health patients. Mr Lim's wife and another daughter have died.

Ms Lim and her father work as rag-and-bone collectors.

Everything in the house, she said, belongs to them.

"My father keeps bringing things in," said Ms Lim.

"Wherever we feel like cleaning, we will clean. When the cockroaches die, we just sweep them up because they become smelly."

Mr Lim Thien Seng was singing and dancing in his home when The New Paper visited the flats yesterday.

Neighbours told The New Paper that cockroaches have been flying from the Lim family's flats into their homes.

Miss Ang Li Chang, 27, who lives next door, said: "Insects and cockroaches have been flying through the windows and from the kitchen."

A housewife, who wanted to be known only as Madam Sani, 46, and who lives in one of the units below, said: "I close my windows because if I open them, cockroaches will fly in."

Neighbours said they dread walking past the flats.

Said Madam Sani: "The flats are very smelly and the floor is all black. When I walk outside, I have to hold my breath."

Another neighbour, who wanted to be known only as Madam Goh, 58, a retiree, put it bluntly: "Their house is dirtier than a rubbish dump."

Some were sympathetic, but they did not know how to help.

Madam Maggie Yeo, 69, a retiree who lives on the same floor as the Lims, said: "The family is poor, so we are okay (with how they are)."

Miss Ang said the flats became messy after the mother died about six years ago.

Mr Neo Swee Eng, 56, chairman of Nanyang Zone 1 Residents' Committee, said the committee has been helping the Lims for almost 10 years, including getting Community Care assistance for them.

But it was unable to do anything else for them.

Mr Neo: "When we went to their flats, they were not willing to throw away anything."

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