News and views from an unique perspective

PAP MP Alex Yam’s open letter to netizens

Posted by temasektimes on April 18, 2012

Dear friends,

Some of us might be aware that the issue of drumming at a unit in Blk 608 in Yew Tee has sparked a flurry of online comments. When asked what I thought, I felt penning down the facts of the case might be helpful. I am all for the harmony of this neighborhood, I believe that disputes should generally be settled face to face through mutual sharing between parties involved.

When the issue first surfaced, I asked my RC leaders to visit the unit and requested for HDB to help in the follow-up to find a compromise, even though it would be outside the board’s purview. Immediate neighbors were not adverse in their feedback, some even supportive. The family promised to adhere to agreed curfew hours which our volunteers kept a close monitor on. The only exception was an extra 30 on one Saturday afternoon. All this time, the volunteers and HDB kept me closely updated with the developments.

Even when the original petitioner petitioned me again, and I made a second request to HDB to relook into the matter, I was told that curfew timings were consistent and the family even took extra steps to further reduce noise levels.

At this time, I learnt that the drummer is a special needs student with mild learning disability. To help with his psycho-motor skills, he took up drumming. The family had been made to understand that strict practice timings should be adhered to and additional sound-proofing be done wherever possible. A letter from the principal should also be obtained.

But what happened subsequently took everyone by surprise. Eggs were thrown at the door of the drummer’s flat. Upset this has happened, neighbors on the 5th and 4th floor also got involved.

Soon after, the issue made the blogs and other websites. It has now taken a life of its own almost completely divorced from the original issue, which is highly unfortunate. But I realized that it does give an opportunity to all of us to reflect on an emotive topic.

Let me state categorically that painting the issue as one about foreigners versus locals is highly inappropriate. This issue is clearly about noise disturbance. It is about learning to live with each other in a community, co-existing with each other. Everyone involved in the issue are long time residents of Yew Tee and all add to the vibrant tapestry that makes up our town.

I am thankful for all the comments on the issue via SMS, FB, messages and emails – those supportive and those who disagree. But I am somewhat saddened that though as emotional this has become, the discussion has completely gone off track. With some comments, it has become almost a witch-hunt which is disheartening.

In cases of neighbor disputes, my team and I at Yew Tee have always encouraged parties involved to first attempt to resolve it amicably through polite communication. Our preserve is the harmony of this community, and we hope in all cases for a compromise to be reached. The RC and CMC will step in after but it will require the agreement of both parties. In extreme cases, a magistrate’s complaint can be filed. Many incidents have been resolved through communications between residents.

I seek the cooperation of everyone to not let the issue become an even more emotive one.

* The above was first posted as a thread on Mr Alex Yam’s Facebook on 17 April 2012

25 Responses to “PAP MP Alex Yam’s open letter to netizens”

  1. Jenny said

    “Let me state categorically that painting the issue as one about foreigners versus locals is highly inappropriate.”

    He is the one that started this foreigners vs locals thing. Hypocrite.

  2. Wr said

    Is this consider a solution or an update of the situation or just a response? As a reader, I dun understand the purpose of it and it does not seems to tell me that the issue is resolve now.

  3. Silver said

    PAP MP Alex Yam why not you and your family move in to unit in Blk 608 in Yew Tee next door for 1 month…. Let’s see what is your experience and feedback on those noises……

    Words is Cheap….

  4. sweetee said

    The identity of the “trouble maker” is out for everyone to see. He comes across more of a “spoil brat” than a “special needs child”. Frankly, you cannot blame him, its how he was raised, with no regards for others. His parent must be taken to task. Everyone has the right to peaceful living in their home. I bet you, they won’t dare do this in Philippines. Native are seen as weaklings by the outsiders due to our adherence to rule of law which almost does not exist in Philippines. Life is cheap there and people are killed for trivial stuffs……………………… spend sometime there before, should know.

  5. spotlessleopard said

    Alex, You are a Politician and an elected Representative of the People….some questions for you: “Did you personally visit and speak to the Complainant and the so called “Special Needs Boy”

    I get the impression when it was mentioend by you the Kid is a Special Need Kid that He was probably a Boy with Down Syndrome, or some other mentally challenged genetic defect but when His pictures were published I was taken aback to see a healthy looking young Man (not kid) who smokes, who works, who goes to Polytechnic….why use such emotive language like “Special Needs Kid” when till now We get the impression that term was used to evoke lop sided symphaty for someone behaving in an antisocial manner …..and to say they cannot to afford to soundproff their room sounds a little spacious as We can detect from the pictures they own rather expensive Electronic Organs and music instruments…
    I am not convinced they are good neighbours…and other questions came up if He is a new citizen why is he not in National Service?…Was exemption given on the grounds that is is a “special needs kid”?
    These qeustions go unanswered…oh…I agree with you race, nationality and religion has nothing to do with this case.
    If you cannot resolve such a simple issue how do we continue to have confidence in you as our representative in Parliamnent?
    We would like to see actual clips or pictures of all his Immediate neighbours having a get together and pictures taken to prove that you definitely have done your share of work to see to the neighbourhood is really back to its peaceful freindly mode.

  6. theonion said

    Good call where humanitarian concern is given for special needs child.

  7. CB said

    Just look at the drummer’s CB face with a cigarette in his hand. Does this CB really have special needs when he goes to a normal school and goes to Ngee Ann poly and also works at a spa?

    Alex- don’t make a mockery of the term “special needs” and insult all those who are really disabled.

  8. Duh.. said

    Mr Yam, why didn’t you think of using the same solution another government department has adopted?

    If Singaporeans can only cook curry when their PRC neighbours are not in, how about the Pinoys play the drum only when their Singaporean neighbours are not in? Now do you see how ridiculous the curry incident solution is? Do you think we will forget?

    If the Pinoys are not happy they have alternative, Philippines is waiting.

  9. Andrew Chen said

    Hello!!!!! How can this issue not turn into an “emotive” one?? When people’s personal peace & quite is threatened, do you expect them to do nothing? When people perceive double-standards at play, whether true or not, do you expect them to sit quietly and swallow it?

    For one, it doesn’t seem that the full facts of this case has played out yet, people have a right to want to understand the basis for the leniency demonstrated here by the authorities.

    Is this really a special needs individual, or someone faking it? Is there medical proof? Why not offer other alternatives like charity time at a studio? Or an electronic drum kit? Surely this boy is not the only drummer in this country, if others can practice without disturbing the peace, why is this family/individual allowed to? Whats so special about them?

    These are important questions you need to answer for all to see and understand. Until then, I think you can expect this to remain an “emotive” issue.

  10. Hsien Liao La said

    Alex, read all the comments here before you open your big mouth and talk more cock.

  11. Badass Ed said

    First off, it is not quite correct to say that getting the HDB involved is outside their purview. As the real Landlord of the premises, the Pinoy occupant being just a lessee, it is incumbent upon the HDB to exercise its control over the activities of all its tenants to maintain the peace and tranquility of the environs.

    Obviously, if you become a nuisance to your neighbours citing “special needs” this calls for stern action by the HDB. Similarly, if the premises are run as an operation providing nefarious activities such as prostitution, the HDB must also not abdicate its responsibilities.

    People with special needs require special attention in a special place. If I am a neighbour with a “special need” to have adequate rest and quiet, then where do we seek an amicable solution? How do we balance our needs with theirs?

    This issue is one of cultural differences. This Pinoy family, transplanted from a culture of adequate land and sparse housing density FAILED to understand that more than 80% of the population are cooped up in closely sited pigeon holes and therefore require everyone, irrespective of whether they have special needs or not to co-operate and live quietly and harmoniously.

    You, Mr. Yam is obviously missing the wood for the trees or to put it less politely, barking up the wrong tree. You should be barking at this family who is causing such a furor over their often cited “special needs”. This issue is not about we versus them. It is about assimilating into the culture that you parachuted in not the other way round. Hope you can understand this point before you keep circling around the Singaporean wagon ring whooping with the red indians.

  12. I Love SG said

    Sir Mr Yam. were you there to mediate? Or did you simply give orders to your lackeys to conduct the whole session on your behalf? I am surprised that you have the time to write this long letter instead of visiting that flat and mediate the whole issue. Why has pple come out and threw eggs, is due to your incompetency your complacency. That’s why you will not get your vote in 2016.

  13. Baker said

    Help with psycho motor skills must play the drums? Why not go around the neighbourhood pick up litter. Bet that helps too.

  14. intonations said

    Mr Yam, at the end of the day, have you as an elected MP, solved the problem? If the answer is no, then your long drawn out response is not needed. We need solutions, not explantions.

  15. Sad said

    Its very sad to read your post Mr Yam. It tells me that you really are not in touch with singaporeans. Back in the early 70s, it is common that we have all sorts of run ins between neighbors but with the kampong spirit the “automatic” attitude between neighbors took over and we learn to put ourselves in their shoes and adjust our behavior. That’s why you hardly ever have any HDB neighbors escalating issues. Don’t take this as there are no issues.

    But you who is clueless about HDB living now come in and want to give your 2cent worth and worse still suggest some FT vs Singaporean thing. I think you are treading on dangerous grounds. Regardless if this irresponsible family is Singaporean or not, they should be made aware that they must stop. Your mediation only send the wrong signal to them and will embolden them. Please consult enough HDB dwellers – especially the ones that complained.

    I have long known that most of the MIWs are out of touch because of the things they say. Like about HDB prices being affordable, about transport being normal, about earning 1k can buy flat, about a foreign student calling Singaporeans dogs, about the curry incident, about healthcare andn ow about this incident. How to lead if you don’t even want to understand how 80% of the people you are leading are thinking and how they live? The more you think you know, it will translate to more stupid things you say. If you dont want to end up like Cynthia Phua and Lim Hwee Hua, you should reflect. Find out why they lost so badly in their wards. It goes down to what they say to the grassroot level and how they keep thinking they are right and not listen. That’s what you are doing.

  16. dog of the dogs said

    Why so afraid of this foreigner ????????????????? Special need , special skill ??? Must kowdao to him ??

  17. Crap said

    Open letter to PAP MP Alex Yam:

    Alex Yam,

    Twisting facts will not help whitewash your poor handling of this case and your poor EQ. Firstly, nobody is pitching this as locals against foreigners. In fact, you are the one who is accusing locals of making the noise as an issue simply because the culprit is a foreigner.

    Secondly, it has been subsequently discovered that the culprit is studying in a local polytechnic and there is a photo posted online showing him smoking a cigarette. This is the first time I have heard of a kid with “special needs” studying in a regular tertiary institution. Either you are sleeping in the job or the culprit is lying. Please enlighten us.

    Thirdly, you are accusing the affected residents of not making any effort to talk politely to the culprit’s family to resolve the problem. Think about it. Do you think any resident would not want to resolve this matter amicably? Did it ever occur to you that the culprit’s family is simply not interested in resolving the matter? Did it ever occur to you that the culprit’s family is the one being impolite and inconsiderate?

    Fourthly, merely asking the culprit to limit his loud drumming to certain hours of the day ignores another aspect of the problem…which is the loudness of the drumming. Have you measured how many decibels his drumming generates??? Using your logic, can I conduct a rock concert next to your home as long as I stick to certain hours of the day??

  18. Jmm Limm said

    Sweeping everything under the carpet is not resolving the matter … highly paid MP with little understanding of the situation … all the dirt just surfaced when the carpet is removed.

  19. Jmm Limm said

    I suggest this MP go to the flat next to the drummer’s and listen to the noise made … conduct a discussion on possible solutions instead of telling everyone that the current solution is the best … what shallow thinking …

  20. Anonymous said

    Why can’t MP Alex Yam contribute for soundproofing from his own pocket money since he earns about $13,000 plus holds a high paying full time job. Nothing wrong with it.

    As for motor skills, drumming is noise pollution plain & simple in an HDB envirnoment, period. Its what is called COMMON SENSE.

    Unless the family lives alone on Bukit Timah Hill, he is more than welcome to drum the living daylights 24/7.

    Go to the CC gym & work out there to enhance his motor skills.

    • SueM said

      You are absolutely right. Loud and constant drumming is noise pollution and there should be noise policy set in place to curb this problem. Noise pollution has been scientifically and medically proven to be hazardous to health. Now that Singapore has more foreigners coming from ‘anything goes’ type of environment and people are housed together like tins of sardines in extremely high-density housing, the more there should be regulations to enforce people to live like proper humans, and not like mad dogs in the jungle who do what they wish.

  21. mokster said

    Like a child that continues to probe and spot his parent’s weakness, FTs are the same. Once they figure out that our local MPs aren’t all that street smart and just a bunch of air-con loving pencil pushers and will swallow any lie they tell; Then it is a matter of just making up reasons like “my kid is a retard compounded by his brain damage due to his underage smoking and has special needs so we got him a drum set to improve his motor skills”. How incredibly rediculous does that sound? That Alex doesn’t even set aside some time to personally interview the family and instead rely on second hand information from his peons to cast judgements is even more puzzling considering that the topic of FTs vs Singaporeans is becoming a bit more sensitive and in this case, its multiple families complaining against one!

    In pinoy land, if you have troublesome neighbours complaining against you, the proper and best way to settle this is to hire a couple of hitmen and take them all out. Pay off the police goons to drop the investigation and tada! Matter solved.

    In Singapore, it gets even easier and cheaper! No hit man, no need to pay off the police. Just words and lies and you have politicians writing on behalf of FTs to chastise us, Singaporeans. How great it must be to be a foreigner here in Singapore! What a freaking great country this is turning out to be!

  22. Sam Tan said

    there’s 101 different ways to improve your motor skills, and need not necessarily involve noisy drums. this excuse is so lame its embarrassing.

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