Growing up in a kampung, former senior minister of state Sidek Saniff sold kuih, a snack, to neighbours, stood in line to use the communal toilets and collected water from a shared pipe, which he carried home in two tin containers on a pole balanced on his shoulders.
These memories have been recounted in his new illustrated bilingual children's book titled Anak Kampung Bernama Sidek (A Kampung Boy Named Sidek).
The book (above) was launched by President Halimah Yacob at Wisma Geylang Serai yesterday.
Mr Sidek, now 80, was elected a Member of Parliament in 1976. He was Senior Minister of State for the Environment when he retired from politics in 2001.
Two months ago, he published a bilingual memoir titled Sidek Saniff: Life Reflections At Eighty, which documented his journey from union leader to politician. Anak Kampung Bernama Sidek is his fifth book.
Mr Sidek grew up in Kampung Radin Mas, a Malay villagedating back to the 1880s that was demolished in 1973 for new developments.
"It's very important for children these days to understand how lucky they are and how different life was back then in the kampung," said Mr Sidek. "The book also places emphasis on values such as honesty, diligence and never giving up."
Supported by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism, the book is written in both English and Malay, a conscious decision made by Mr Sidek to promote reading in both languages. It also uses a dyslexic-friendly font.
The illustrations were drawn by Mr Md Samad Afandie, who opted for hand-drawn watercolour images to capture the kampung spirit.
"I hope this book inspires kids to go outdoors, be more adventurous, read more Malay books and make friends out there in the real world," said the 54-year-old.
Mr Sideksaid in his welcome message in the book: "Wherever life takes you, always be grateful for the good things and never forget where you come from."
Published by local publishing house Opus, the book costs $18 each inclusive of GST and can be purchased at all major bookstores from next month.