( dpa ) - Up to 20 per cent of flat occupants in Singapore have never spoken to their neighbors only a few metres away, according to a poll by The Sunday Times.
Even more disturbing was the revelation that 53 per cent would "do nothing" even if they believed something was amiss, such as not seeing their neighbours for a long period of time.
The newspaper's poll of 200 households revealed that 81 per cent did not have their neighbours' phone numbers and 60 per cent did not know them by name.
The poll was triggered by the discovery of the badly decomposed bodies of 82-year-old Wong Tong Seng and his daughter in their flat last week. Ngai Hong Chee, the 80-year-old wife, was in the flat as well and alive.
Neighbours had not seen the family for seven weeks. Police were finally called because of the smell from the flat.
Most of those queried feared being labeled a "busybody" if they "probed" into a neighbour's affairs, the poll said.
Residents of one and two-room flats said shady characters in their neighbourhoods had made them more wary.
Sociologists said Singapore is not the only country experiencing the trend of neighbours becoming increasingly isolated from one another.
"In a dense city, you get people in your face all the time, so you learn to value the privacy of your home," sociologist Paulin Straughan was quoted as saying.