For many weeks, Choa Chu Kang residents have to put up with the incessant drumming of a Filipino boy living in Block 608 of Choa Chu Kang Street 62, but when they surfaced the unresolved matter to their MP Alex Yam, they were told to be more ‘tolerant’ because the boy has ‘special needs’ and stop being ‘emotional’.
Instead of addressing the concerns of residents, Mr Yam dismissed them as ‘xenophobic noises’ and lashed out at them for not ‘empathizing’ with the Filipino boy on his Facebook:
“Is it more acute because it is a foreigner family? Has anyone tried to approach and clarify the situation? Does anyone know that the person drumming is a special needs person in a special school? Did anyone try to find out that the family is trying to save up to soundproof their place? Just so that their son to develop what they believe is his innate talent despite his special needs?”
His reply prompted one irate Choa Chu Kang resident Chong Liling to ask if the boy has ‘special privilege’ to disturb the peace in the estate:
“Dear sir, special needs child does not have special privilege for this case. In this block there are special childs too, but their parents are handling well n minimize e disturbance to others. Knowing e kid likes to play drum, e parents should have gotten him an electronic drum set which is logically cheaper n much affordable than sound proofing e unit n is definitely not creating lotsa noise compared to e acoustic type.”
After sensing he might have uttered the wrong words, Mr Yam quickly backtracked and explained his “questions are not meant as questions”, insinuating at the same time that the residents had allowed ‘emotions’ to get better of them.
[Source: Alex Yam's Facebook]
He ended the conversation by urging everybody to be more ‘tolerant’ of each other while he and others ‘work on the solution’ when he has earlier proclaimed confidently to the world that the matter has been resolved on 24 March.
However, one resident Cindy Chak felt they have reached the limits of their tolerance:
“Alex – every time the drums start no matter what time the neighbours are not going to tolerate the din and noise created. It has reached that stage of anger where people are fed up and had enough. Even if the boy is a special needs case the sound pollution he creates daily disturbs all neighbours.”
Mr Yam’s remarks sparked a massive outcry in cyberspace with many netizens lampooning him for it. Some responses on Facebook:
“This is completely dumb… so what if the person causing the disturbance is handicapped or not? A person with special needs will require special environment. The HDB is no place for drummers, normal or special to disturb the peace beyond permitted timings. If such noisy activities are required on a regular basis, then sound proofing the room is a necessity. Common sense please!” – Andy Fong
“Mr Alex Yam, why don’t you move next door to that family or better yet, let them live in your house. Walk a mile in someone shoe than you can talk……..The Muslims can’t even have their Call of prayers be sound from the mosque 5 times a day. So, please don’t start the discrimination and racist talk! BTW, have you heard of a place call Jamming Studio all over the island, where youngster and musician practise and play their music. They could take their son there and beat his heart out.” – Matahari Malam
“I don’t understand the correlation between drumming and “special needs” of a child. What has one got to do with another? And why is this child here instead of back home in the Philippines? Why creat trouble for locals? This MP is deplorable and incorrigible. Instead of helping to solve the problem created by the Pinoy, he is pushing the blame onto Singaporeans. This is infuriating and truly unbecoming of an elected official.” – Madison Chua