Boon Lay neighbours celebrate kampung spirit for Hari Raya

(From left) Ms Siti Zulaifa Sukardi and her husband Shaieful Azan Zanal Abidin with their next-door neighbours, Mr Muhammad Sabri Johari, his wife Siti Juliana Saptu and their two children Ifra Nur Dayana and Luth Aldriq at the kampung-themed shared
(From left) Ms Siti Zulaifa Sukardi and her husband Shaieful Azan Zanal Abidin with their next-door neighbours, Mr Muhammad Sabri Johari, his wife Siti Juliana Saptu and their two children Ifra Nur Dayana and Luth Aldriq at the kampung-themed shared space in front of their two flats in Boon Lay.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

When their next-door neighbours suggested they "combine" and decorate the corridors in front of their two homes for Hari Raya, Mr Shaieful Azan Zanal Abidin and Ms Siti Zulaifa Sukardi did not hesitate.

That was three years ago.

Since then, the couple, both aged 27, have been teaming up with Mr Muhammad Sabri Johari, 30, and his wife Siti Juliana Saptu, 27, every year to give a festive air to their shared corridor in Boon Lay.

Each year, their efforts reached new heights. This year, they have chosen a kampung theme.

The space in front of their flats is covered with a "grass" rug, lined with white picket fences, and the walls are decorated with flashing LED lights, while two "torches" stand at the entrance to the corridor.

The decorations cost about $150.

"We wanted to bring back this kind of 'village' atmosphere, even though we have never lived in a village," said Mr Azan, who works as a logistics coordinator.

The area is not just a place for festive decor, but one where they can relax and chat.

When guests visit their homes during Hari Raya Puasa, marking the end of Ramadan, the area becomes an extra space for them to use. It also serves as a beautiful backdrop for photography, they told Berita Harian.

Their efforts have also turned the corridor into an attraction for their other neighbours, and even food delivery riders.

Said Ms Zulaifa, a child educator: "Some neighbours bring their children to see the lights here and take pictures."

 
 

"Delivery riders who come to deliver our food have also praised what we do because this is something they don't usually see."

The neighbours moved into their flats around the same time three years ago, and have grown closer since then.

Mr Azan and Ms Zulaifa recently took a trip to Batam with Mr Sabri and Ms Juliana and their two children, aged seven and one.

Mr Sabri said they hope to be an example of good neighbourliness.

"Indeed, we are lucky to have such neighbours, who are willing to cooperate and maintain a good relationship with us," he said.

His wife Juliana added: "Many people think young couples do not like to mingle with their neighbours, but we want to show that even though we live in a flat, we still have a neighbourhood culture."

A photo of their shared corridor, posted by Mr Azan on Twitter, recently made the rounds on the social networking site, prompting comments from many, including Malaysian Twitter users.

"There are some Malaysians who asked me, 'Where is this?', and there are some who thought the electrical riser door in front of our flat was a bathroom," he said, drawing laughs from his wife and their neighbours.

"When I posted it on Twitter, many couldn't believe it, including Singaporeans who were taken by surprise that the corridor was facing both our units."

Mr Azan said: "I hope, with this post, we can encourage others to continue to build a good relationship with their neighbours, regardless of race or religion.

"We also hope the relationship that we've built will continue to be maintained."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2019, with the headline 'Boon Lay neighbours celebrate kampung spirit for Hari Raya'. Print Edition | Subscribe