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When Nee Soon Village made way to the new Yishun town in 1976, many residents moved to other parts of Singapore. However, many eventually moved back as soon as they could, even though Yishun was seen as “ulu” back then. Why did they miss Yishun so much? Hear from two such residents, Mdm Lim Ah Wee, 66, and Mdm Tan Ai Choo, 74.

 

SORELY MISSED YISHUN

Mdm Lim and Mdm Tan revealed that when they lived in other parts of Singapore, they felt like fishes out of water and yearned to return to Yishun.

“The doors of my neighbours were shut most of the time. The living environment there was too quiet for me. Once a burglar broke into my neighbour’s flat. It was just too quiet,” Mdm Lim revealed.

When Mdm Lim and Mdm Tan moved back, they realised many neighbours from the kampungs had moved into the HDB flats in Yishun. When the two of them met at their new home, Block 858, they realised they had once lived in the same village! “The people here are more easy-going,” Mdm Lim commented.

“There are many familiar faces around here. I always find myself greeting nearly everyone on my way back home,” Mdm Tan added. 

The neighbourly ties are so strong that most of their extended families live around the area, and their children chose to keep living here after getting married too.

 

NEIGHBOURS WHO ARE LIKE FAMILY

The close ties extend across racial and religious lines. Mdm Tan’s Malay neighbour sometimes offers her fish curry and satay, and she always reciprocates with drinks and Mandarin oranges during Lunar New Year. Mdm Tan’s husband even used to carry the same neighbour’s wheelchair-bound mother down the stairs.

“We live on the second floor, and at that time not every floor had a lift yet. A lift was installed on every floor a few years ago, which was a relief to us,” Mdm Tan said.

Mdm Lim recalled that she used to babysit her neighbour’s younger child while the neighbour went out to fetch the elder child from school. Besides borrowing cooking ingredients from one another, they cooked for one another too. “My neighbour treats me to her home-cooked dessert such as green bean soup, and I give her Chinese steamed rice cake and carrot cake whenever I prepare them,” she said.

 

NO LONGER “ULU”

Mdm Lim and Mdm Tan recalled that when they first moved here, Nee Soon South was a sleepy, “ulu” backwater precinct. There was no MRT station and even the number of buses was limited. There was no mall nearby either. There were only two schools – Naval Base Primary School and Northland Primary School.


Khatib MRT has opened since then, and many bus services have also been added. Mdm Lim and Mdm Tan live only one MRT stop away from Northpoint City, the largest mall in the North. At Khatib Central, 24-hour supermarkets, coffee shops and restaurants dot the landscape, bringing much convenience.

Block 858 has also seen myriad improvements. Recently, the void deck was fitted with a learning corner and a television set. Covered linkways were also built in the vicinity. 

“Our MP Er. Dr. Lee Bee Wah helps us fight for facility upgrades. One example is the installation of lifts to the overhead bridge next to Khatib MRT station. Wheelchair-bound residents now find it safer to commute. She is very approachable. We can speak freely to her about anything,” Mdm Tan said.

 

STAYING ACTIVE TOGETHER

The close community bonds help them to keep active and healthy. Mdm Tan leads a Shaolin One-Finger Qigong group. Mdm Tan, Mdm Lim and their neighbours frequently tour local museums and temples, and even ventured overseas to Muar together. They are active in community events, from helping the less fortunate to festive celebrations.

Mdm Lim reflected: “It’s during these gettogethers that we make new friends. All these help to refresh the kampung spirit.”

 

1976年,当义顺村所在的社区被规划为义顺新 镇,许多居民搬迁到新加坡其他社区。但是,许 多人选择搬回义顺,即使人们认为这里较偏僻。 为什么他们那么想念义顺?我们听听林亚为女 士(66岁)与陈爱珠女士(74岁)怎么说。

思乡之情浓厚
林女士与陈女士表示,她们不习惯住在别的地 方,时时想搬回义顺。
林女士说:“邻居的门通常都是关着的。周遭环 境很静。有一次,我的邻居房子还遭窃贼破门而入。那里真的太静了。” 
搬回义顺后,她们才发觉以前住在乡村的邻居已 搬回义顺的政府组屋。当她们俩在新居大牌858偶遇时,才知道她们原来住在同一个村子,尽 管那时她们彼此都互不相识!
陈女士说:“这边的人比较随和。这里到处都是 熟悉的脸孔。我回家时,都在跟左邻右舍打招 呼。”
良好的睦邻关系形成一股很强的社区凝聚 力,导致几代同堂都住在附近。同样的,她们 的子女结婚后也选择继续留在义顺。 

邻居象大家庭

邻居们的和睦关系超越种族与宗教界限。陈女士的马来邻居 有时煮咖喱鱼和沙爹给她品 尝,而她也在农历新年时送汽水与柑橘,作为回礼。陈女士的丈夫以前还抬同个邻居坐轮 椅的母亲下楼梯。她说:“我 们住在2楼。那时每层楼还没装置电梯。几年前,每层楼装置电梯,让我们松了一口气。”
林女士记得她过去有时帮邻居看 年纪小的孩子,好让邻居去学 校接年龄较大的兄妹回家。除 了借一些烹饪的材料,她们也为彼此烹煮美食。她说:“我的邻居请我品尝她在家里煮的绿豆汤,而我会和她分享亲自 煮的年糕与萝卜糕。”


不再偏僻

林女士与陈女士记得刚搬来时,义顺南还是一个偏僻的组屋区。当时义顺没有地铁站或商场,只有几条公共巴士路线。附近只有两所学校 — 军港小学与新华小学。
从那时起,卡迪地铁站与许多条巴士路线逐渐投 入服务。她们的住所只离纳福城, 北部最大型的购物商场,仅一站之遥。24小时的超市、咖啡店 和餐馆遍布卡迪中区,为居民带来极大的便利。
大牌858也见证许多改善工程。最近,组屋楼下设立读书角落与电视机。附近也建了有盖走道。
陈女士说:“我们的议员李美花博士致力为我们 争取改善基础设施。其中一项就是装设通往卡迪 地铁站天桥的电梯。坐轮椅的居民都觉得现在乘搭公共交通比较安全。李美花博士相当亲民。我 们随时都可以畅所欲言,跟她谈任何事情。”


一同过活跃的生活

建立深厚的睦邻关系使她们保持活跃与健康的生 活。陈女士目前正领导少林一指禅气功兴趣组。 她们和邻居共游本地的博物馆和庙宇,甚至三五 成群到麻坡旅游。无论是佳节聚餐还是帮助较不 幸人士,只要是社区活动,她们都积极参与。
林女士反映:“我们就是在这些聚会交新朋友。 这些都有助于强化甘榜精神。”