People’s Park Complex forces their residents to sleep outside if they don’t have access card
SINGAPORE — Some residents at People’s Park Complex are angry over strict security measures rolled out at the start of this month in an apparent move to curb prostitution, overstaying, short-term rentals and other illegal activities in the 31-floor building.
Residents at the 46-year-old property whom TODAY spoke to said that visitors — including boyfriends, girlfriends and relatives — are not allowed to stay over, and that the measures have turned their homes into a “prison”. The strata-titled Chinatown development has commercial units on the lower floors and apartments on the upper floors.
According to the residents, some visitors have been told that if their visit exceeds two hours, the unit would be “blackmarked”. Any visitor staying overnight has had his or her particulars taken down.
The measures were outlined in a circular issued by the complex’s management corporation in late July, which indicated that they would take effect on Aug 1.
Residents also claimed that they were subjected to routine checks on whether they each carried an access card when entering or leaving the premises. Wives accompanying their husbands and children tagging along with their parents were not spared, they said.
The complex’s manager Wilson Goh has been unavailable for comment, despite repeated attempts by TODAY to reach him.
More than 10 residents gathered at the complex’s McDonald’s on Tuesday (Aug 6) night to take turns to outline their grievances to TODAY. Some owners, who visited the complex’s management office on Wednesday and Thursday to seek resolution to the issue, also told their stories.
Some elderly residents were worried about how their adult children could visit them.
The notice on access restrictions posted by the People’s Park Complex management. Photo: Wong Pei Ting
Landlords told TODAY that tenants who forgot their access cards or were still waiting for their cards to be processed found themselves turned away at the lobby on consecutive days — despite explaining their situations — before they were eventually allowed in.
One tenant, a pub worker, was forced to stay elsewhere on Wednesday night after she was turned away three days in a row as her access card was with someone who was in China.
There were also access issues for delivery men, part-time cleaners and tuition teachers.
THE MANAGEMENT’S RATIONALE
The large number of requests for access caused chaos for the first few days the new rules were enforced, according to the landlords.
A real estate agent in his 50s, who owns three units, sent TODAY a video a tenant had taken at the complex depicting a bottleneck of about 20 people waiting in turn to explain why they should be allowed in without an access card.
Declining to be named, he said people had to wait up to two hours before they could return home that day, and were made to sign declaration forms acknowledging that they will no longer be allowed to enter the building without an access card from Aug 5.
A copy of the form seen by TODAY stated that the management office will issue only up to six cards per unit – regardless of whether the residents live in studio or four-bedroom units – in compliance with Urban Redevelopment Authority guidelines.
The management will “cease to register entry for those short-term tenants visitors staying for less than three months and tenants without access cards with effect from Aug 1”, it wrote.
Many unit owners are far from happy with the management’s approach.
“Madness. They prevented my tenant from going in without a card, not even allowing him to register as a visitor,” said Mrs Janice Goh, a 38-year-old housewife whose tenant called her at 12.30am on Wednesday as the security guard would not allow her to go home.
“Technically, the MCST (Management Corporation Strata Title) is employed by residents to work for our benefit. Since when did they have the right to reject visitors?”
She said the tenant who called her at 12.30am felt “insulted” and treated like a “criminal”.
‘GIRLFRIEND CANNOT STAY OVERNIGHT?’ LANDLORD ASKS
Mrs Goh said that she headed down to the complex’s management office on Wednesday to try to have her concerns addressed.
Complex manager Mr Goh was not in, she said, but she asked one of his subordinates: “One person, one card. Girlfriend how?” According to her, the male staff member replied: “Visit can. No overnight stay.”
Mrs Goh said that she was told by the staff member that the reason for the restriction was to curb “illegal stays”, an apparent reference to vice-related activity.
In one widely-reported court case, a 46-year-old Singaporean landlady named Beh Dien Dien was jailed 14 weeks and fined S$8,000 for renting out rooms to prostitutes.
Mrs Goh, however, said: “Over a few bad eggs, they are now making it very difficult for all… No other private property in Singapore imposes this kind of stupid regulation on their tenants. Who in the world are we protecting at the end of the day? I don’t understand.”
On Wednesday, TODAY spent more than three hours at the complex’s management office waiting for Mr Goh, the assigned spokesperson, to address queries, to no avail.
TODAY made several attempts to reach him by phone as well. The only responses he gave were: “Sorry, I can’t talk right now” at 11am on Wednesday, and “Sorry, I am still in a meeting” at 5.30pm later that day by SMS.
But Chinese evening paper Lianhe Wanbao quoted Mr Goh as saying that residents were “mistaken” over the intentions of the new rules.
Residents are not stopped from receiving guests; the management is only asking for residents to personally pick their guests up and have their guests’ particulars taken down, he reportedly said.
A resident who wished to be known only as Madam Yeo, a 47-year-old housewife, said that she and her husband were returning to their unit after a casual meal downstairs when a security guard demanded her access card, unsatisfied that only her husband was carrying a card.
The homeowner who had lived at the complex for more than 20 years said that they got into an altercation with the security guard, who told them to “call the police” if they were unhappy, according to Mdm Yeo.
One resident, Mr Tony Tan, 75, said that he had stood up for a few women from China who were being shouted at by security guards.
Mr Ken Lim, 52, said that his tenants were treated badly. One of his tenants had purportedly been told to move out when he did not have his access card, although he had signed proper rental contracts, he said.
“They owe us an explanation,” Mr Lim added. “Now, we can’t breathe.”
A 55-year-old unit owner who wanted to be known only as Madam Lee said that there are other ways the authorities can catch the true perpetrators in the building, such as by conducting an undercover sweep or tracking activities using surveillance cameras.
“Stop playing with us, or I will start to scold vulgarities too,” she said.
Private residential buildings are managed by management corporations — often known as Management Corporation Strata Title, or MCST — which are governed by the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act. TODAY has sought comment from the relevant government agency, the Building and Construction Authority.
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