January 24, 2009 Saturday

Man, 72, found dead in Woodlands condo

AN ELDERLY man whose decomposing body was found a week ago in a Woodlands condominium died of natural causes, police said yesterday.

Mr Ooi Choong Chit, 72, was discovered on Sunday after neighbours complained of a foul smell coming from his third-floor unit in Woodgrove Condominium along Woodgrove Avenue.

It is not known when he died, although neighbours said they had noticed the stench for three days before Mr Ooi was found. The exact cause of his death is under investigation.

In 2007, at least 45 elderly people died alone in their homes; most were living in small HDB flats.

Neighbours said Mr Ooi kept mostly to himself and was never seen with family or friends. Businessman H. S. Tan, 52, who lives two floors below Mr Ooi, said he had only a few brief chats with the elderly man. 'We exchange greetings when we pass each other sometimes and talk about normal stuff like how our day went,' he said.

Mr Tan said Mr Ooi never mentioned his family and he seemed like a friendly man. Some neighbours said they last spotted Mr Ooi two weeks ago at a coffee shop across the road, where he bought most of his meals.

A condominium employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, said one of Mr Ooi's third-floor neighbours called condo security on Sunday. 'We suspected immediately that someone had died,' he said.

Several neighbours had noticed the stench but did not call the police. One said they thought it was the smell of 'salted fish'.

Mr Ooi was described as tall and thin, with grey hair. Police are appealing for his next-of-kin, or anyone with information, to come forward.

They may call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000.