I was watching 前线追踪 (FRONTLINE) on channel 8 at 10:30pm just now and saw a story being done on Tiong Bahru.
This time around, the story about Tiong Bahru was not all sugar, spice and everything nice. Instead, it focused on the pent up frustrations of a Tiong Bahru resident here.
What was the frustration about? Illegal roofs on the ground floors and illegal occupation of common areas....namely the common courtyard.
There are basically 2 types of ground floor units in Tiong Bahru. One type are those with an EXCLUSIVE courtyard while the other types are those WITHOUT the courtyard.
I have come across many buyers, including agents, who thought that all the courtyards are taken over by the owners illegally. THIS IS NOT TRUE.
Some courtyard have the fire escape staircases that leads all the way to the back wall while some fire escape staircases ended in the middle of the courtyard. Because these staircases ended in the middle, such courtyards cannot be closed up and the courtyard remains a common area. (Some residents have built their own perimeter walls in these type of courtyard. The considerate ones will create a walkway to the back door for the residents above to use while some.....well, you can just discern that they hardly or never spare a thought for their neighbours.)
Another type of courtyard found here are those blocks built on high gradient grounds. If you walk around block 78,79 or 80, you may have noticed that the ground floor units from the front are actually located on level two from the rear.
I think the British wanted to built bomb shelters all around block 78,79 and 80 but probably changed their mind halfway through the construction. This has resulted in many ORPHANED courtyards around here.
Why ORPHANED? Because no one would use them as they are located one floor below the ground floor unit. The story tonight is about these ORPHANED courtyards.
A resident living in Block 78 Yong Siak Street alerted MediaCorp about someone using the common courtyard illegally. He claimed that he has complained to the town council and HDB branch office but till today, no action has been taken. So he has no choice but to take drastic action.
He claimed that he has no issues with the illegal usage of the common area within the courtyard space as it could be kept clean in the past. But when illegal user padlocked the courtyard and installed some barb-wires on top of the roofs, the cleaners could not access the area and a lot of thrash has accumulated there. That really irked him a great deal. The tons of rubbish seems to have come from level 3 and 4 which are tenanted to nurses and workers. Even the ground floor unit is currently tenanted.
The reporter investigated and found out that the ground floor owner who has illegally used the common area runs a provision shop a few doors away and the reporter brought in the camera.
Initially the shopkeeper was cordial and claimed that the roofs are all temporary structures and can be taken down at a moment's notice. She also admitted to storing her display racks there (I think they have all rusted).
Then the shopkeeper became annoyed and asked who ratted on her. You could sense her restrained anger when she was told that it was her neighbours upstairs who squealed on her. She immediately telephone her neighbour and ask why she brought in the media circus without prior notice. (Quite hilarious actually).
Her elderly neighbour then appear and tried to shift the blame to her brother. After which, everyone went to her home to check out the situation. Indeed there were a lot of trash on the roof. The reporter also interviewed the family next door and that lady immediately accuse all the tenants of the misdeeds. She claimed that it was the nurses and workers who smokes and drinks and litter all over the place.
The reporter then confronted the nurses and workers. The nurse seems decent and I kinda believe that they don't smoke or drink. But when one of the workers was interviewed, he kept shaking his head and said that they were not responsible. And after much probing, he says he was not sure as he never saw anyone smoked or drank and so he assumed that it was not his flatmates.
Anyway, the story ended off by saying that HDB and the Tanjong Pagar Town Council will look into the matter and take appropriate actions.
I think the irate resident has gotten his point across loud and clear tonight. But in the process, he may have lost a neighbour and a friend.
Let's hope residents in Tiong Bahru will never resort to using National TV to wash all their dirty linens again.
Note : (As I do not have a DVD recorder, I scrambled to record the documentary from my digital camera but.......my camera memory space ran out after 2 minutes. Sorry folks. maybe you can watch it from MobTV. In future, if you need to record any local channel shows in advance, you can do so at RecordTV. By the way, there is a re-run next Tuesday afternoon and I have preset RecordTV to record it. Hopefully I can update this post with a full video)