HE GREW up in Marine Parade, and lived for more than two decades in the area. Even today, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, 42, remembers fondly the strong kampung spirit there.
He recalled how he and his brother were victims of burglary when he was about 10 years old.
They were walking home after buying food from the nearby hawker centre one day but did not realise they were being followed.
After opening the door to their flat, two men rushed in from behind and pushed them to the ground. The men tied the boys up and threatened to kill them, before ransacking the place and making off with what they could.
Mr Wong said: "We were, of course, very traumatised by that incident. But our neighbours looked after us, and made sure we were okay."
The community even raised funds and got a security guard to be stationed at the void deck of his Housing Board block for a few months after the incident, he said.
"The sense of community help was tremendous," said Mr Wong yesterday at a carnival held by the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots pre-school at Marine Parade.
The event was to mark the nation's golden jubilee and pay tribute to the Marine Parade community for their support for the pre-school. Mr Wong himself attended the pre-school.
At the event, Mr Wong also recalled an episode where his entire family was locked out of their home, as his father had misplaced the keys. His neighbours helped to break open the lock, with saws and "all sorts of things".
One neighbour even offered to climb through the balcony window to unlock the front door of their flat on the 21st storey.
He said: "There was a very strong sense of kampung spirit when we were growing up. I hope that this strong community spirit will continue here in Marine Parade."
The carnival, which featured game stalls and workshops for children, also helped to raise funds for the area's vulnerable residents. It hosted a flea market and a charity auction, which featured the sale of Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong's personal items. These included a Jaguar golf bag with clubs custom-made for Mr Goh's height, a set of five Lanvin ties, and a pair of white porcelain vases that were gifts from Taiwan.
The carnival's organising chairman Nancy Quah said: "It is good to see residents from the community coming down and doing some good deeds for their fellow residents in need."