Chip Bee Gardens dispute goes to mediation

A female expatriate involved in a dispute with her next-door neighbour at Chip Bee Gardens has sent a request to the Community Mediation Centre (CMC) to help resolve the issue amicably.

Denisa Kera, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS), was thrust into the spotlight after media reported that her neighbour, 41-year-old Ivan Loh, had called in the police at least six times in the last 10 months to complain about loud noises from her house parties.

Responding to Yahoo! Singapore’s queries, Kera, a native of Prague, declined to elaborate on the conflict but has apologised to her neighbours for any inconvenience caused over the dispute.

“Earlier this week, I sent a request to the mediation council to intervene in the private dispute between me and Mr Loh (and his wife) over noise issues,” she said.

“I apologised repeatedly to my other neighbors for the loss of privacy and peace this dispute caused, and if I knew that my neighbors were planning to involve the tabloids, I would have acted earlier in terms of this request to the mediation council and not rely on the effort of the administrators of our property, JTC Corporation. I simply didn’t know such council existed.”

The CMC is expected to appoint a mediator to help the parties involved isolate the disputed issues, develop options and explore ways to reach an agreement.

According to Loh, the issue first started in March last year, when Kera started holding private parties in her terrace house. The stretch of terrace houses in Chip Bee Gardens along Jalan Kuning within the Holland Road area is managed by state-owned JTC Corporation.

Having lived with his family in the house next door for the past eight years, Loh, who works as a commercial photographer, said the loud music and rowdy behavior of the guests at Kera’s parties began disrupting the peace in what was usually a quiet neighbourhood.

“She would hold private dinners which lasted from 11pm to 3am, and there would be sounds like breaking of glasses coming from her house. Chip Bee Gardens is usually very quiet,” he told Yahoo! Singapore.

Relations between the two neighbours were further strained after a heated exchange in November last year, after Loh’s wife went to ask Kera to lower down the volume as it was disturbing his then nine-month-old baby.

He claimed that Kera instead called the couple “lunatics” and said that Loh’s wife had trespassed onto her property. That was when they had an exchange of words.

From March 2011 to January this year, Loh said he has made a total of six police complaints. The latest being about a New Year’s Eve party held at Kera’s home which was reported by the media for disturbing the neighbours.

“My tomorrow’s work depends on her parties because it does not allow me to get proper sleep,” Loh lamented, adding that he has audio recordings of the loud music to back up as evidence.

Saying that he has yet to receive a genuine apology, Loh said, “Actually I have given up and don’t need it (apology). I just want Singapore to know that NUS has a lecturer that is an inconsiderate neighbour. How can our children be taught by someone with such values?”

It was also revealed that Kera is one of the co-founders of the Secret Cooks Club which also captured media attention last year for having organized a dinner party where guests were served with sushi placed on a naked woman.

Apparently the Japanese-themed dinner was based on the practice of “Nyotaimori”. The club, which was also co-founded by 26-year-old Frenchman Florian Cornu in February last year, organises monthly dinner parties set on various themes.

Apart for forwarding his complaints to JTC, Loh had also consulted Member of Parliament Chan Chun Sing on Monday during his Meet-the-People session and was told that Chan would write a letter to JTC on the matter.

Meanwhile, he also said that since the New Year’s Eve party incident, there has not been a single party and he is also unsure whether Kera still lives in the house.

In response to Yahoo! Singapore’s queries, a spokesperson for NUS said that staff are expected to abide by the university’s code of conduct which includes “treating members of the University community with dignity, consideration and respect”.

It added that Kera has provided initial clarification about the Secret Cooks Club and that it is a casual network of people who gather for dinner parties organised by people with the group.

The spokesperson added that the she has also explained that the private Nyotaimori dinner that took place last year had been organised by another member while she was overseas.

NUS said that while the behavior of its staff in their homes is a private matter, it appreciates the concerns raised, and is looking further into the matter.