Simple ways to reignite kampung spirit

Many Singaporeans do not know their neighbours' names, but it does not take much effort to reach out and connect to them, says the writer.
Many Singaporeans do not know their neighbours' names, but it does not take much effort to reach out and connect to them, says the writer.PHOTO: ST FILE

We should all play an active role in promoting good lift etiquette and preventing anti-social behaviour in lifts as pointed out by Mr Daniel Oon Ban Hock (Bring kampung spirit to lift rides, Feb 28).

The problem of "entitled", "ignorant" or "zombie" lift companions, as described by Mr Oon is one that is troubling. It shows a lack of empathy, courtesy and community-mindedness in our neighbourhoods, a reflection of an increasingly individualistic society.

We may see our neighbours every day in the lifts when we leave home or return from work, but how many of us have interacted with them?

It has been found that due to work or changing mindsets, Singaporeans prefer to keep to themselves. Many do not know their neighbours' names.

However, it doesn't take much effort to reach out and connect with them.

We can start being friendly by greeting them, or by simply asking about their day.

We can also help to make it easier for our neighbours to approach us if our eyes are not glued to our devices in the lifts, or if we help to hold the doors open for them.

Likewise, when someone has held the door open for us, it is common courtesy to say "thank you".

All it takes is a smile to do away with awkward lift rides and turn them into an opportunity for a friendly conversation instead.

The Singapore Kindness Movement has launched a "Feels Like Kampung Spirit" video competition encouraging Singaporeans and permanent residents to capture stories of their neighbourhood, with a winning prize of $5,000.

By shining a light on acts of kindness in our neighbourhoods, we hope that people will be inspired to take the first step in befriending their neighbours - whether in lifts, corridors, at bus stops or in playgrounds.

So, instead of waiting for others to start, show and share kindness, let's own and initiate it. This will make a huge difference in creating a people-friendly environment that makes life pleasant for all.

William Wan (Dr)

General Secretary

Singapore Kindness Movement

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2019, with the headline 'Simple ways to reignite kampung spirit'. Print Edition | Subscribe