SINGAPORE: Could you accept a neighbour monitoring your daily movements along the common corridor of an HDB block through the installation of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera outside their home?
That was a question posed on Jan 12 to the Facebook group Complaint Singapore, which describes itself as an arena for people to "vent their anger and unhappiness" and to share bad experiences.
The question drew hundreds of responses, with some people saying it would not be a problem for them.
Jimmy Lin said it was acceptable because "you will never know when you need the footage from your neighbour to help you in case of theft or other matters". William Liew said it was good, because "you have free security surveillance".
But others pointed out that installation of CCTV cameras outside HDB homes is not allowed.
Indeed, according to the law, residents in HDB flats are not allowed to install CCTV cameras outside their homes, unless they have received approval from the authorities.
The Community Disputes Resolution Act, passed in 2015, stated that any individual “must not” cause “unreasonable interference” with their neighbour’s enjoyment or use of their place of residence, and includes “surveillance” of the neighbour of their place of residence.
According to the Act, if any resident is found flouting this law, their neighbour may bring civil proceedings in a court against them.
In addition, town council by-laws regulate the use of common areas, including the outside of flats.
A spokesperson for one Town Council, Bishan-Toa Payoh, told CNA that “BTPTC does not allow installation of CCTVs by residents outside their homes." The council pointed out that residents with special reasons for installing CCTVs must obtain approval prior to doing so.
Despite the restrictions, the number of people buying CCTV cameras for use outside their HDB flats has increased over the past year, said merchants selling CCTVs.
Owner of Choicecycle CCTV Eric Cheong said that the sale of CCTVs for use outside homes have gone up by at least 20 per cent, and added that he sells “hundreds of pieces” of CCTVs for residential use per month.
Mr Tan Yi Chong, who handles business development for Surveillance Zone Singapore, said there has been an “increase” in the number of people installing cameras outside their flats since the end of last year.
He added that he sells about 20 to 30 CCTVs for people to install outside flats per month.
Most people install CCTVs outside their homes due to neighbourly disputes, theft of their belongings outside corridors or harassment by others, said I-Secure Solution sales manager Derek Peh.
I-Secure Solution sells about 100 to 200 CCTVs for residential use per month.
Before installing a CCTV outside their homes, people will have to make a police report and seek approval from the town councils, said Mr Tan, adding that the company will inform buyers of the rules when they are making their purchase.
"Normally before they install, they already make police report and seek approval from town council," he said.
In 2019, a man was fined S$5,000 after he was caught twice on video pleasuring himself with women's footwear taken from HDB flats.
The first incident occurred on Jan 22, 2019. A neighbour who saw the woman's shoes told the woman's husband, who reviewed CCTV footage from a camera installed outside his unit. The husband lodged a police report.
The second incident occurred on Jul 28 in the same year. While on bail for the first offence, the man repeated the act. A neighbour alerted the owner of the HDB flat, and CCTV footage had again captured the man in the act.
The man was arrested three days after, and in October pleaded guilty to two counts of obscene acts in public places.