If you saw someone sleeping at a hawker centre, you probably wouldn’t think too much.
After all, it’s a pretty common sight.
Most of us wouldn’t want to be too kaypoh anyway.
And just like most of us, people ignored a man who appeared to be sleeping in a hawker centre.
It was only twelve hours later when it was discovered that the man had died.
Here’s what happened.
“Sleeping Man” Actually Dead
The incident occurred on 19 March at North Bridge Road Market and Food Centre.
66-year-old cleaning supervisor Liu Zhen Guang arrived at the hawker centre at 9 am on Sunday for work.
He noticed the man “sleeping” at a table but didn’t pay him too much attention.
Mr Liu told Shin Min Daily News that he thought the man was merely drunk, a common sight at the hawker centre.
Thus, he went about his day.
At about 8 pm, the man was still “sleeping” at the table.
Mr Liu was about to wash the floor when a diner reminded him to wake the man.
Though he shook the man and talked to him for three minutes, he failed to respond.
Suspecting that something was wrong, Mr Liu called for help.
He discovered that the man wasn’t breathing only when the emergency dispatcher asked him to check.
The man, who was 56 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Liu said, “I feel a bit guilty. If I had tried to wake him up earlier, he might have gained consciousness and still be alive.”
According to Shin Min Daily News, many hawkers had noticed the man lying at the table.
He had apparently entered the hawker centre at 3 am.
One unnamed hawker reported seeing a bowl of noodles at the man’s table when he had arrived for work in the morning.
The police and SCDF said they were alerted to the incident at about 8.15 pm.
Shin Min Daily News reported that the police only removed the body at 11 pm.
That was after four hours of investigations.
The police do not suspect foul play.
A Common Sight: People Sleeping in Hawker Centres
According to the hawkers that Shin Min Daily News interviewed, it is common to see people sleeping in the hawker centre after lunch hour.
The hawker centre would be less crowded, so elderly or drunk people would lie on chairs or tables to sleep.
Mr Liu stated that drunk diners sometimes make a lot of noise after being woken up, so he doesn’t usually wake them.
People sleeping in hawker centres is a sight not limited to North Bridge Road Market and Food Centre.
In 2018, photos and videos of an allegedly homeless man circulated online.
The posts were of the man sleeping overnight at the Zion Road Hawker Centre area.
It appears that drunk diners sleeping in hawker centres aren’t uncommon either.
In 2017, a Stomper noticed a topless man lying down on the floor of Hong Lim Food Centre at around 6 pm.
He appeared drunk.
According to the Stomper, a man who looked like him was groggily walking around the hawker centre, so she assumed he had just woken up.
Earlier this year, another man was found dead in a public space.
On 18 January 2023, a 59-year-old man was found dead at the void deck of an HDB block in Serangoon.
According to Mr Sean Kian Peng, the MP of the area, the man was not a resident.
However, he was often seen sleeping at the block’s void deck at night.
Shin Min Daily News reported that a cleaner noticed a pungent smell coming from the man’s body.
He went over to check and realised the man was dead, and immediately proceeded to inform his employer.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic.
The police did not suspect foul play.
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