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Ng Jun Sen
Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014

Singapore

Reclusive mum slowly accepting help

The New Paper | Ng Jun Sen | Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014

Madam Yap Bie Keow, 81, lives with her son, Mr Cheng Ah Jee, 60, and her daughter in a two-room rental flat in Bedok South Road. Her daughter, Miss Cheng Ah Moy, was dead for four days before being discovered by Madam Yap's neighbour on 15 October 2014.

Several readers contacted TNP to offer money, medical care and house cleaning services to the 81-year-old.

Madam Yap had shared the same bedroom as her daughter, Miss Cheng Ah Moy, 55, not knowing that she had died in her sleep.

She found out only when her neighbour, Madam Nekmah Mahadi, 45, discovered the decomposing body in the flat two weeks ago.

Despite the goodwill, Madam Yap and her son, Mr Cheng Ah Jee, 60, who also lives in the Bedok South Road flat, initially rejected the donations.

Real estate agent Esther Chua, 46, who offered to give them new mattresses, blankets and home appliances, says: "I visited Madam Yap on Wednesday afternoon, together with Madam Nekmah. Madam Yap wasn't quite ready to accept change.

"Before I left, Madam Nekmah said she will have to slowly convince Madam Yap into letting us buy new items for her and her son."

Madam Yap began to accept donations after Madam Nekmah, her neighbour of more than a decade, explained to her that it was for her own good.

"I said if she is still not going to accept help from anybody, then it will be the same thing like 'Mei Mei' (Madam Yap's daughter) again," she says.

Mother and daughter had led a reclusive life and kept their door shut to strangers, including social workers who came to offer help.

The only person she allows into her two-room flat is Madam Nekmah.

When I spoke to Madam Yap two weeks ago, she said she was too embarrassed to accept help from strangers.

That has changed somewhat, said her neighbour.

"She's beginning to be open to strangers and social welfare groups," she said.

Madam Yap has accepted help from social workers from Trans Family Service Centre and a group of doctors who visited her flat after the report was published.

ngjunsen@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 26, 2014.
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