Neighbour: Man kept to himself

SINGAPORE- A neighbour who lived two units from Mr Lim Lay Hock on the sixth storey thought that he was poor because he slept on the floor with his belongings next to him.

But Mr Lim's flatmate told her that this was not the case, said the neighbour who wanted to be known only as Madam Chia.

The 70-year-old part-time hawker assistant, who has lived in York Hill - an estate of rental flats in Tiong Bahru - for 16 years, said she often shared groceries with the flatmate.

She said that when she visited their flat earlier this year, she noticed that Mr Lim's clothes and belonging were on the floor.

"I thought he was poor and offered to give him a picnic mat to sleep on," she told The New Paper yesterday evening.

"But his flatmate told me he was not poor - he just insisted on sleeping on the floor."

Mr Lim and his flatmate moved in less than a year ago and were quiet individuals who kept to themselves, she said.

A fourth-storey resident, Mr Joe Ahmad, 40, said the neighbourhood was "scary" until surveillance cameras were installed about two years ago.

"There were frequent fights downstairs among drunk men, mostly in their 30s and 40s," said Mr Ahmad, who has lived in the estate for close to 10 years.

"There was even a stabbing incident in 2007 or 2008."

While Mr Lim's daughter believes he was fatally attacked by a robber, some residents feel their neighbourhood is safe.

One of them, Mr Xu Han Guo, 52, who has lived there for 45 years, said in Mandarin: "I don't feel threatened when I walk around the estate.

"About 10 to 20 years ago, it was unsafe. I once saw a woman being molested in the lift by two men. But it's no longer like that."

He, however, feels the estate is "too quiet, especially in the afternoons".

"There is only one shop in our neighbourhood. There isn't a coffee shop where people can gather. So in the afternoon, you hardly see anyone around."

Madam Sapiah, 55, a school canteen stall operator who has lived in York Hill for four years, has no worries when taking walks with her grandson.

"Sometimes I find urine at the void deck, but that's about the worst I've seen here," she said.

"The estate may be a bit dirty, but it's definitely not dangerous."

A shopkeeper who declined to be named, said the police have stepped up patrols in the neighbourhood since the incident.

"Policemen have been coming by my shop and asking me if things are all right," she said in Mandarin.

"I've operated this shop for 40 years and I've never had any trouble."

When TNP went to Mr Lim's flat yesterday evening, the gate was padlocked with a chain and no one answered the door. Earlier in the afternoon, an elderly man opened the door, but slammed it on finding out that the visitor was a reporter.

I thought he was poor and offered to give him a picnic mat to sleep on... But his flatmate told me he was not poor - he just insisted on sleeping on the floor.

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