AUG 22, 2004 - The Sunday TimesPacked to the brim, all 160 lots in the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour are often full on weekends. So some chuchgoers resort to parking along Siglap Hill. -- LAU FOOK KONGTo keep cars away, some residents have taken to placing traffic cones outside their gates. Others stand at their gates just before mass starts to fend off churchgoers. -- LAU FOOK KONGMan disrupts church service because of parking woes A churchgoer's car was blocking his front gate; man being investigated for disturbing assembly
By Ben Nadarajan
FED UP with churchgoers who parked their cars right in front of his house, a man stormed into a Catholic church in Siglap during mass and demanded that something be done about the problem.
A churchgoer at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour reported the incident to the Home Affairs Ministry, and police are now looking into it.
The man is being investigated for disturbing a religious assembly - an offence under the Penal Code. He is also under probe for uttering words that hurt the religious feelings of another person. If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to a year for each offence.
The man, who did not want to give his name, told The Sunday Times yesterday that he lost his temper during the incident two weeks ago. He wanted to go out but his front gate was blocked by another car.
He said he walked to the church along Siglap Hill and asked a staff member there to find the driver to move the car.
After waiting for 10 minutes in his two-storey terrace house, nobody came. The managing director of a construction and engineering company then barged into the church, just as the Reverend Gregorie Van Giang was about to read the Gospel.
The man, who is in his 40s and a freethinker, said: 'The church, as the host, should be responsible for its guests and not let them park anywhere they want.'
Some churchgoers sympathised with him. 'We can understand his frustrations. Many of us are also upset that our people are so inconsiderate,' said housewife Evelyn Ng, 34.
Residents along Siglap Hill, a quiet neighbourhood off Changi Road, have complained about parking problems to the police and Land Transport Authority (LTA) on many occasions in the past.
Some of the older residents said the problems had been around for 20 years, but worsened when the church finished renovation works a few years ago and more worshippers started attending mass.
Churchgoers park their cars along the road when all 160 lots in the church have been taken up, as they often are on weekends when more than 1,000 people attend services. Priests at the church have reminded churchgoers not to park along Siglap Hill as this obstructs traffic along the narrow two-way street, said members of the congregation.
The church even made arrangements for people to park at nearby Siglap View, in front of St Stephen's School. It is a five-minute walk away, but few churchgoers park there.
'Most of the cars which park along Siglap Hill are of those who are late and do not want to park far away,' said a church warden. 'Many are also too lazy to walk just a little bit.'
Some residents have taken to placing traffic cones outside their gates to keep cars away, while others stand at their gates just before mass starts to fend off churchgoers.
Although residents have put up with the problem, several new home owners are less tolerant.
Just last Sunday, a resident who moved in two years ago stopped his car in the middle of the road and refused to budge for 10 minutes, because his gate was blocked and he could not turn into his house.
Another frustrated resident, businessman Eric Chin, 47, said: 'When so many cars park along one side of the road, it leaves only one lane free in the two-way street. Very often, cars get stuck.'
Residents also complained about some arrogant car owners.
Madam Ngiam Lee Cheng, 64, confronted one last year.
'But the man told me he pays road tax so he had a right to park there,' she said.
To help end this stand-off between residents and churchgoers, the police have stepped up patrols in the area.
The LTA will also put in double yellow lines by the end of the week. Those caught parking illegally will be fined, given demerit points or have their cars towed away.
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