All was still at Taman Jurong on the morning of 20 May 2012, until Mr Neo Cheng Huat, 83, a resident who lived on the 15th floor of Blk 337B, heard the frantic screams of five people.
Mr Neo, a retiree, looked over and realised that a fire had broken out and his neighbours were trapped inside their flat.
He woke his 42-year-old son, Mr Neo Hiap Ann, a driver, to assist in the rescue.
Apart from them, Mr Sirajul, 47, a minimart owner, who lived on the 17th floor of the same block also lent a hand in opening the metal door gate of the burning flat.
They eventually spotted the key, unlocked the gate and freed the family, whose flat was by then covered by thick smoke amidst the blazing heat.
“Once we brought almost everyone out, we realized that there was still one person inside whom we might not be able to save. At that moment, we felt very sad,” recalled Mr Sirajul.
Determined to rescue the last person trapped inside, the three men, who till then had been total strangers, continued to try to extinguish the fire.
They eventually bolted through the flat to pull the remaining person to safety.
All five survivors were sent to the hospital and are recovering. They are currently living in a relative's house.
The brave neighbours were honoured with the Singapore Civil Defence (SCDF) Public Spiritedness Award, which was presented by Commander of the 4th Civil Defence Division, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Teong How Hwa.
The award acknowledges courageous acts and selfless displays of civic-mindedness by members of the public.
|The awardees shared recollections of their experience at the headquarters’ cozy lounge. PHOTO: Sidwyn Koh|
“We did not expect this. We simply did our part. We feel very encouraged by such a recognition. Even my daughter feels proud that her father saved a life!” shared Mr Sirajul.
Mr Neo Hiap Ann shared that this is his first such award and he would help anyone in trouble, with or without one.
“No matter what, we must help. As long as the people are safe, I am happy,” Mr Neo concluded.