Born in the 40s: Times were hard, and being able to study was a big deal

Mr James Seah, 71, and his peers grew up in what the Finance Ministry report called a "fragmented school landscape". Few went on to achieve more than secondary education. Mr Seah says: "In my time, studying until Secondary 4 was already a very big de
Mr James Seah, 71, and his peers grew up in what the Finance Ministry report called a "fragmented school landscape". Few went on to achieve more than secondary education. Mr Seah says: "In my time, studying until Secondary 4 was already a very big deal."ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Seventy-one-year-old James Seah, who grew up in Bukit Ho Swee, vividly remembers the day his house burned to the ground in the famous squatter settlement blaze that claimed four lives and left thousands homeless.

The year was 1961. It was Hari Raya Haji and he was 13 years old. He was on his way home when he saw that a fire had broken out among the area's tightly clustered zinc and attap houses.

Please or to continue reading the full article. Learn more about ST PREMIUM.

Enjoy unlimited access to ST's best work

  • Exclusive stories and features on multiple devices
  • In-depth analyses and opinion pieces
  • ePaper and award-winning multimedia content
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 27, 2019, with the headline 'Times were hard, and being able to study was a big deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe