Monday, August 9, 2010

'kampong of forgotten souls'

a kampong house in the 50s (from national archives, s'pore)

i just found out that the kampong (kampong chia heng) where i spent nearly 30 years of my life was labelled 'the kampong of forgotten souls' in the 50s. i also found out that the rows of attap houses that we stayed in were constructed without a permit. although it was located 6.4km from the city, there was no proper road, no proper sanitation and no electricity.

a complaint was lodged when three blocks of unauthorised wooden and attap buildings were under construction. the authorities were not able to find out who the 'developer' of the buildings was. by the time, the people who claimed to be owners - 7 women and 5 men - were charged in court, there were already nine blocks and some were already occupied. anyway, there was no court order to demolish the illegal structures. the 12 owners - all chinese - were fined $30 each. it was reported that the 'kongsi' raked in a profit of some $400 000.

in the early days, there was no electricity although there was piped water. there were two public stand pipes serving a population of 1000. when electricity first came to the village, it was in the form of a noisy private generator which was operated for four hours between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.

in a 1953 government report, 9 congested areas in singapore were listed as potential fire risks and kampong chia heng was one of them. the following year, the villagers were praised by the fire department for helping to prevent a lallang fire from spreading to the houses. actually, i remember there were a few instances when we all pitched in to help put out fire, not just lallang fires but also fires that started in some of the houses.

kampong chia heng also made the news in 1963 when a 62-year old village man was infected by cholera. all the people in the village - babies, children and adults - had to be innoculated against the disease. the man was hospitalised at middleton hospital (orr sai).

in the political scene, i can remember three members of parliament. the first was a hainanese barber, a mr lim, who later defected to the barisan socialis. subsequently, we had mrs devan nair and she was succeeded by mr lawrence sia, a former president of the teachers' union.

i have blogged about my kampong in this earlier post.


Uncle Phil said...

I have just finished reading your earlier posting of your old kampung. You have enough old neighbours to have a reunion party!
I may not be from your kampung but your postings make me feel that I still part of a bigger kampung of my island home that I left behind. Thanks for the memory.

yg said...

phil, i regret not having any picture of my kampong. maybe that's why i am taking pictures every day.

Uncle Phil said...

Hi yg,
Keep up your good work.

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