Ex-committee chairman charged

Businessman accused of vandalising property at East Coast estate

WHEN the possibility of a collective sale for Laguna Park was announced in December 2007, some residents held back, hoping this would drive up the estate’s value.

But things turned ugly later at the East Coast area condominium, which was hit by a spate of vandalism cases after several residents opposed the sale. Cars belonging to residents known to have been against the sale were splashed with paint or scratched, while mailboxes were found with glue in their keyholes.

Still, many residents of the 667,000 square-foot estate were shocked to learn that their estate management committee chairman, Mr Lee Kok Leong, had been arrested last August on suspicion of perpetrating these acts.

During a brief appearance in court yesterday, the 62-year-old businessman, dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt and black jeans, stood emotionless as he was charged with two counts of mischief.

According to court documents, Mr Lee is accused of inserting glue into the padlock, rear gate keyholes and main wooden door of a flat at Block 5000E of Laguna Park at 12.44am on Aug 25 last year.

He also allegedly vandalised the front and rear wooden door keyholes of another flat on the same floor.

The damages amounted to $590.

The case was adjourned after defence lawyer Ramesh Tiwary said he needed time to make representations. Mr Lee will reappear in court again on Feb 3.

If convicted, he could be jailed for up to one year or fined, or sentenced to both on each charge.

Mr Lee made a quick exit after the hearing, avoiding the handful of residents who had turned up to witness the proceedings. The businessman also declined attempts to be interviewed, getting into a waiting car to avoid photographers.

A spokesperson for the management committee told Today that new chairman Reggie Chew took over last October following Mr Lee’s resignation in August.

While they declined to comment on the matter as the trial is still in progress, the spokesperson said they have increased patrols around the estate and are looking into installing closed-circuit television cameras.

Since Mr Lee’s arrest, three other vandalism cases have been reported in the estate said the spokesperson.

Despite the gloomy economic outlook, the 528-unit condominium crossed the 80 per cent threshold last month, enabling the en bloc sale process to proceed to the marketing stage.

Residents of the 30-year-old estate can expect to pocket between $1.8 million to $2.3 million for each of their units, down from the over $3 million some were hoping for last year. Most of the units are between 1,500 and 1,700sqf in size.

Source : Today – 7 Jan 2009

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