Blk 686B residents affected by emotional trauma

Singapore Democrats

Dr Leong Yan Hoi (second from left) giving medical advice to a resident. Looking on are Jarrod Luo and James Gomez

Residents at Blk 686B Woodlands Drive 73 reported varying degrees of emotional trauma after going through an ordeal which saw their water supply contaminated by a corpse that was thrown into their rooftop water-tank.

Many indicated to members of the SDP that they were upset over the incident. The Singapore Democrats visited the block yesterday evening to offer their support and help to the residents.

Along with the SDP team was Dr Leong Yan Hoi, a medical practitioner who is also on the SDP’s panel of healthcare advisors.

Dr Leong  advised affected residents to seek medical help if they suffered from any physical or emotional symptoms.

“Ingestion of the contaminated water may lead to gastroenteritis and acute diarrhoeal illness, though long-term infectious risks are rare and negligible,” Dr Leong told reporters.

We came across two families whose members experienced diarrhea.

He added: “Residents consuming the contaminated water will likely experience some degree of psychological trauma and may exhibit symptoms and signs of anxiety, phobia, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) persisting for some time after the event.”

Many of the residents shared stories of their continued psychological discomfort when using water from the supply system of the block. We were told by parents that their children are still afraid to use the water.

In addition to the traumatic experience, several of the households that the SDP spoke to cited issues of lack of security and personal safety as a result of the murder and security breach of the water-tank.

One resident said that the security breach had also made her and her family fearful about returning home late at night and having to use the lift to go up to her floor. She wanted reassurance that security measures would be taken to prohibit unauthorized access to the water tank and monitor access to lift landings and lifts by non-residents after 10 pm.

On a another note, the residents raised issues over public accountability, compensation for medical costs and options for legal recourse.

Several residents were visibly angry, citing unhappiness over the fact that they were informed of the contamination only after several hours after the body was discovered in the tank.

Asked for his reactions by the media who were present, Dr James Gomez expressed surprise that Mr Khaw Boon Wan has been silent on this matter.

“There is a case here for the new Minister of National Development to answer with regards to the safety and security of HDB blocks in the constituency and beyond.”

Dr James Gomez was an SDP candidate for the Sembawang GRC in GE2011.

“Overall, this is not a good start for the PAP team here,” Dr Gomez added.

A group of residents have organised a petition that included demands that the Sembawang Town Council management staff take responsibility for the incident and step down.

One of the petition organisers, Ms Samantha Guo, said that she felt a sense of satisfaction that the Town Council is now going to change the tank as a result of their petition.

But, she added, there are still a lot of unresolved issues such as ongoing safety of their drinking water, security of the water tank, compensation for illness, and so on.

She said that with their limited knowledge and expertise, residents are uncertain as to how and to what extent they should continue their petition.

“We can help residents make representations on issues of accountability. We have a team of legal and medical professionals and other experts ready to help,” SDP asistant secretary-general and Sembawang GRC candidate John Tan assured her. “We are just a phone call away.”

Lawyer Mr M Ravi, who had met SDP representatives earlier, addressed the legal perspective of the incident. He pointed out that there is an issue of negligence that could be brought to the courts if any resident or group of residents wanted to pursue the matter.

The SDP thanks the residents of Blk 686B for sharing their views with us. We will continue to monitor the situation and support them.