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William Wan

It's time to update the kampung spirit

Published on Apr 14, 2014 11:35 AM
The vertical kampung means dense populations living with many new neighbours who are mostly strangers, not friends. -- ST FILE PHOTO

For quite some time now, we in Singapore have bemoaned the loss of neighbourliness - the kampung spirit - in our communities, and have argued passionately for its revival. Unfortunately, unless there is a collective will to do something about it, the kampung spirit, now highly endangered, is likely to become extinct, just like the kampungs after which many areas of Singapore have been named.

Our original kampung were made up of families and extended families, working together to survive and, sometimes, prosper. The men worked together in nearby plantations. The women spent their days together in the kampung, and so did the children. If they worked elsewhere, the men and women would return in the evening, and the kampung would come together for meals and for entertainment.

This constant engagement and interaction was the foundation of the kampung spirit. Residents were not just neighbours. They were friends, and even family.

Singapore society has evolved from the traditional kampung to the vertical kampung. Apartment living means dense populations living with many new neighbours.

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