Close neighbours decorate Boon Lay corridor in 'kampung' theme for Hari Raya

(From left) Ms Siti Juliana Saptu, her husband Mr Muhammad Sabri Johari and their children, with their next-door neighbours Mr Shaieful Azan Zanal Abidin and his wife Ms Siti Zulaifa Sukardi, stand in the corridor they decorated together for Hari Raya. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE (BERITA HARIAN) - When their next-door neighbours suggested they "combine" the corridors in front of their two homes three years ago, Mr Shaieful Azan Zanal Abidin and Ms Siti Zulaifa Sukardi did not hesitate.

Every year since then, the young couple have been decorating the corridor with their neighbours, Mr Muhammad Sabri Johari, 30, and Ms Siti Juliana Saptu, 27.

Each year, as Hari Raya approaches, the decorations at their shared corridor become even more festive.

This year, the two neighbours, who live in Boon Lay, have agreed on a "kampung" theme for the corridor.

The space in front of the two units is now covered with a "grass" rug lined by white picket fences and the walls are decorated with blinking LED lights, while two "torches" stand near the entrance of the corridor.

The decorations cost about $150 in total.

"We wanted to bring back this kind of 'village' atmosphere, even though we have never actually lived in a village," said Mr Azan, 27, who works as a logistics coordinator.

The corridor area isn't just a place for decorations, it has also become an extra space where they can sit together to chat and relax.

When guests visit their homes during Hari Raya, the area becomes an additional space for use. It also serves as a beautiful backdrop for photos.

Not only are guests amazed by the decorations, but the area has also turned into an attraction for their other neighbours and even food delivery riders.

Mr Azan's wife, Ms Zulaifa, 27, said: "There are some neighbors who sometimes bring their children to see the lights here and take pictures."

"Some of the delivery riders who come to deliver our food have also praised what we do because this is something they don't usually see," said the child educator.

The two neighbours moved to their flat around the same time three years ago, and since then their relationship has grown closer.

Mr Azan and Ms Zulaifa recently even 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 to others.

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

His wife, Ms 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 house was a bathroom," he said, drawing laughs from his wife and next-door neighbours.

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

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

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

Note: This is a translation of an article originally written in Malay. It appeared in Berita Harian on May 24, 2019.

Translated by Nur Idayu Suparto

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