Last remaining village on mainland S'pore

Kampung Lorong Buangkok gives visitors a peek into what village life was like in the Republic's early years. The site was carved out of swampland in the 1950s and 1960s - a tribute to the spirit of gotong royong that united the villagers.
Kampung Lorong Buangkok gives visitors a peek into what village life was like in the Republic's early years. The site was carved out of swampland in the 1950s and 1960s - a tribute to the spirit of gotong royong that united the villagers.ST FILE PHOTO

Kampung Lorong Buangkok is a place that Mrs Mani Shanker would definitely want overseas guests to see, because it offers such a rich slice of Singapore's history.

It is the last surviving kampung (Malay for village) on mainland Singapore.

Once swampland, the site on which the kampung stands was acquired in 1956 by Mr Sng Teow Koon, who sold traditional Chinese medicine. Back then, it was home to just five or six families.

Over time, a village developed. In the early years, residents had to transport sand from the nearby estuary to firm up the muddy ground, so construction of homes could begin.

This spirit of gotong royong (Malay for mutual assistance) was evident in other aspects of village life, as residents helped one another through good and bad times, including weddings and funerals.

By the 1960s, 40 families had settled in the village. Modern amenities such as running water and electricity were installed in 1962.

Today, Mr Sng's youngest daughter, Mui Hong, is the landlord. In keeping with his wishes, she has kept the rent low, at $6.50 to $30 per household a month.

Clusters of houses with three to five rooms each dot the kampung, which is on private land and not a conserved site.Village matters are presided over by a headman.

Concerned that this remnant of traditional village life could disappear completely from Singapore, some have called for the conservation of the kampung.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 01, 2015, with the headline 'Last remaining village on mainland S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe