Nothing more frustrating than asking authorities to help stop neighbourhood noise
It has generally been a pleasant experience when dealing with local authorities. Efficient, responsive, responsible and properly channelled. These are the words I could think of.
When coming to the noise issue, however, the above compliments were overturned after I went through a tedious and frustrating process to ask their help for stopping a neighbourhood noise.
The noise was caused by an old man playing bamboo flute daily on the void deck of an HDB block three years ago. Its high-pitched, lasting and piercing sound became increasingly unbearable while echoing in the surrounding areas.
He was punctual and diligent, sweating to create this public nuisance while deeply indulging himself. I started complaining this to AMK TC. The real estate officer did come down and find the man, advising him not to play.
However, the old man swaggered out of the lift and blew hard again after calming down for a few days. This pattern repeated a few times until the real estate officer gave up.
Then covid-19 came and the lockdown started. For a short period, the noise stopped. But the man started to blow again even when wearing a mask became a mandate.
Complaining to TC again, and I realized the former officer left. The new officer was a very responsible person, coming down to the block, finding the man and advising him again. But he ended up passing the case to the current officer WWX.
The officer WWX apparently was very unresponsible, never replied emails. He left a wrong contact number on the “OneService” app, so that your call could never go through.
When I finally found his number and talking him, he claimed that he came down with a community police officer and went to the two possible units the old man stays, but he was unable to find the man. That sounds to me a lie in broad daylight.
His predecessor was able to locate the man successfully because the old man was very punctual. How come this Mr WWX failed so easily?
A senior lady officer from TC did call me before that and inform me that they were unable to take any action against the man, besides advice, even though he caused a public nuisance which is punishable. She also claimed they were short-handed. But she promised to seek help from a community police officer.
It sounded like a promising solution. But this officer WWX screwed up everything. I did not believe a word he was saying. He simply did not do his due diligence. Even if he was telling the truth, why couldn’t he just carry out the duties another day?
I called 999, as the public nuisance is a criminal behaviour, but was coldly told that the noise issue in HDB common area was handled by Town council. They would be more than happy to send a report to TC. The request was bounced back.
Fed up with the disgraceful slack of AMK TC, I made a complaint on the incompetence to the Ministry of National Development, which according to gov.sg, is the authority to regulate town council.
But in disappointment, MND replied that “ Town Councils are autonomous bodies that report directly to the residents’ elected MPs and are responsible for their respective day-to-day operations. Town Councils are directly accountable to residents for their performance of their functions, and also manage their own communications with residents.”
The ball was rolled back to TC who claimed they have no enforcement power. The whole process is a very sharp learning curve! I believe this tedious and frustrating experience would discourage most residents to give up much earlier even before figuring out the duty segregation of government entities!
At least one thing is clear: the issue is still the responsibility of town council. So I went to see MP. I reported the case to the assisting staff during the meet-the-people session, according to whom, MP would send a letter via intranet to TC the next day. Thus, I decided not to see the MP in person, in the hope that her letter could work effectively.
However, it proved that I was completely wrong. The man continued to blow his performance. It seemed nothing happened. I decided to visit the MP in person for another session. When I arrived at the place, I was told that MP was on leave!
Indeed, I have little confidence on my future visiting to MP. The visit may only be useful in finding out what went wrong. As a common law-abiding citizen, I have to say, I am running out of my resources.
If the town council won’t do anything further, the case would be stuck over there. The good has to suffer from the bad. It can be imagined that a loan shark or mafia would be more effective in handling this piece of cake, but where are they?
I have no idea how this case could be eventually resolved. But a sharp question is, when Town council is not doing its job properly, which government agent is to oversee and rectify it? The MP? Definitely not, who has his/her own job and probably is only a symbolic public figure.
If you search Google map, ratings on TC are generally very low, mostly below 3 stars. With so big populations dealing with TC daily, it is sad to note that TCs do not perform to the public satisfaction. The mysterious part is, which higher authority is to supervise them?