By Elysa Chen
A BITTER feud between neighbours in a block of flats in Bukit Purmei has turned violent.
There are accusations of vulgarities being hurled, property being vandalised and physical attacks.
Recently one resident claimed his neighbours, an elderly couple, punched him and came at him with a wooden rod.
The elderly couple admit there was a scuffle but said they were acting in self-defence.
Mr Lee Cheng Yew, 54, a crane operator, also claimed that, in May this year, his elderly neighbour tried to burn his eyes with joss sticks.
|Photo: TNP, Jonathan Choo
Mr Lee said in Mandarin: "I was walking past when the old man was praying, and he tried to poke my eyes out with the joss sticks. He kept saying that he wanted to teach me a lesson for being a liar."
He claimed his neighbour, Mr Teo Hong Seng, 81, and his wife, Madam Ng Sok Chin, 75, would also pray for his death whenever he walked past their unit.
Both Mr Lee and Mr Teo have lived there for 20 years and used to be friends till they fell out two years ago.
Mr Teo has been involved in a dispute with another neighbour for four years.
Mr Lee, who has lodged 20 police reports against the Teos over the last two years, said the harassment ranged from jamming his letterbox with gum and toothpicks to the recent incident in which a wooden stick was brandished.
They have attended court mediation, with both sides agreeing not to bother each other.
But after two weeks of peace, the elderly couple would start their antics again, claimed Mr Lee.
Mr Lee said: "I have no other choice but to make police reports. Hopefully, the police can warn them not to be a nuisance."
Mr Lee said he was on his way to work around 8.30am on 22 Oct when he heard Mr Teo cursing him and praying he would get knocked down by a car.
Mr Lee claimed he responded by saying "Amitabha, shan zhai shan zhai" (a Buddhist blessing).
He claimed Mr Teo then got angry and punched him five times on his left arm. He said Madam Ng came out with a stick and waved it at him a few times.
Mr Lee said: "I was so frightened that even though I ran only five to six metres, I was perspiring heavily. Fortunately, my neighbour, Madam (Josephine) Lee, was waiting for the lift, and she helped me call the police."
Claiming he has never retaliated, Mr Lee said: "They are so old. I will be at a loss if we ever get into a fight. People will say that I bully them.
"All I can do is to run away, because I don't want to let them hit me at will."
Madam Lee, who lives opposite the Teos, said: "Even when we were calling the police, the couple goaded us and said they were not afraid of us calling the police."
When The New Paper visited Madam Lee, 42, at her home last Wednesday, she showed us CCTV footage of the incident.
She said: "(Mr Lee) ran towards me, and we stood side by side. Only then did they back off."
How did it come to this?
Mr Lee said his problems with the couple started two years ago when the police were called during a fight between the Teos and another household, and he became a witness.
He said: "I was talking to my neighbour when the old man suddenly opened his gate and started hurling insults at them.
"My neighbours returned the insult, and the old man came out, wanting to attack them. The woman grabbed at my neighbour's genitals, and he pushed her away.
"Then, the elderly couple called the police, and I gave my statement to the police that night.
"Since then, the elderly couple have been bearing a grudge against me."
When The New Paper on Sunday visited the Teos, we found a piece of cardboard outside their flat with warnings and threats written in Chinese, apparently aimed at the neighbours though there were no names on it.
A picture of a woman had been stuck to a joss stick container, with the word "busybody" scrawled on it.
No hitting, only "pushing"
Mr Teo denied hitting Mr Lee, but said they had pushed each other for a while.
He also claimed that Mr Lee had accused him of stealing, and molesting girls.
Mr Teo's wife, Madam Ng, said in Mandarin: "I heard the scuffle between my husband and Mr Lee, so I took the stick out for self-defence."
She insisted that she had not raised the wooden stick, but had held it at her waist.
When told that her neighbours had CCTV footage showing her brandishing the stick, Madam Ng shrugged and said: "They can say whatever they want to say."
Mr Lee has also installed a CCTV camera outside his flat.
"If it happens once more, I will retaliate," he said.
Police confirmed that a police report was lodged by Mr Lee, and have advised him on his legal recourse.
This article was first published in The New Paper.