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Registration date : 2009-01-03

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PostSubject: We might have been BURNT ALIVE   We might have been BURNT ALIVE Icon_minitimeSun Jan 18, 2009 4:10 pm

We might have been BURNT ALIVE

Cabby says angry neighbour splashed petrol outside Haig Road flat

By Elysa Chen
January 18, 2009

FIRE was the weapon in these attacks.

We might have been BURNT ALIVE NP_IMAGES_ECCAR-79U

Wax and incense paper was used in one. In the other, what is believed to be petrol or thinner was splashed on a Member of Parliament.

But unlike in those cases, there was no fire in this incident between neighbours - only petrol.

In the recent fallout between the two neighbours who used to be buddies, one of them allegedly splashed petrol outside the other's flat.

The victim claims also to have caught the man scratching his car.

He claims his neighbour was jealous. Because his own wife and children were getting too close to the victim's family.

The petrol incident happened a few days before the horrific fire attack on Yio Chu Kang MP Seng Han Thong last Sunday. That was allegedly by a man who was unhappy he was not given a hongbao at a community temple event. Mr Seng suffered 14 per cent burns.

In another case, a wax-and-incense paper fire at the door of a man's HDB flat on Wednesday was alleged to have been started by a spurned former colleague, The New Paper reported yesterday.

The petrol splashing was also at an HDB flat's front door, and there was the danger of fire. The victim, Mr James Tay, 62, a taxi driver, is dumbfounded over how the relationship between him and his neighbour has soured to such a bitter level.

His car has also been vandalised six times in the last two months. (See next report.)

And he is afraid. 'I don't want to end up like Mr Seng Han Thong,' he said, referring to Sunday's attack.

On New Year's Day, Mr Tay found petrol splashed near the plants he kept along the common corridor outside his three-room flat.

Fortunately for Mr Tay, who lives in the flat with his wife, there was no fire.

He said: 'I was so relieved that he had not set fire to it. It was so dangerous! What if the petrol caught fire? We might have been burnt alive.'

As soon as he smelled the petrol, he went and washed it away.

He said: 'I am sure that it was petrol because it smelled like petrol, and not kerosene. I should know, I drive a car, and I am also a taxi driver.'

He didn't make a police report then because there was no real damage.

But he has since lodged a magistrate's complaint at the Subordinate Courts.

A police spokesman confirmed that the police reports were lodged, and that they have advised Mr Tay on his legal recourse.

He and his neighbour used to be like brothers. They have lived in the same block of flats on Haig Road for more than a decade.

Accusing his neighbour, a man in his 50s, of the mischief, he said: 'My neighbour works as a security guard. But how can he be employed (in that job) when he damages property instead of protecting it?'

Treated neighbour kindly

Before the friendship soured, Mr Tay said he often treated his neighbour kindly. He had once given his old dining table and cabinet to the man's family.

Now he is fearful that the spat may escalate.

The penalty for mischief by fire, if used to cause damage to property, is seven years jail.

If fire or an explosive substance was used to destroy a house or building, the penalty is a 10-year sentence.

Lawyer Sunil Sudheesan said: 'In Mr Tay's case, his neighbour created a scenario which could have been extremely dangerous, though he did not light the fire.

'He could be charged with attempted mischief. The punishment for mischief can be jail of up to a year and a fine.'

Lawyer Luke Lee said: 'If someone flings petrol at your door, but does not threaten you, the culprit can be jailed for two years.

'However, if someone flings petrol on your doorstep and you know about it, it could be considered criminal intimidation, and the culprit can be jailed for seven years.

'Unfortunately, Mr Tay did not have sufficient evidence that the petrol was splashed near his door, as he was not present during the time the petrol was splashed.'

Using fire to hurt or threaten is not a recent trend.

In December 2003, Madam Chua Mei Lan, a KTV mamasan set fire to her lover's family flat.

She had taken some leftover thinner from the painting job in her home and used it to set fire to some newspapers outside the door of his flat. The fire was discovered before anyone was hurt.

In another incident that year, Sim Swee Kee, 48, set fire to his sister-in-law's Woodlands flat. He had gone to look for his estranged wife, Madam Pay Ah Eng, 44, who wanted to divorce him and had moved in with her brother, Mr Pay Voon Chye.

Mr Pay suffered 90 per cent burns on his body and died.

His wife suffered second-degree burns over 33 per cent of her body and was disfigured after the incident. Their 5-year-old son was unhurt.

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