A Street Party for Neighbourliness

(article was first posted on my other blog site: http://joochiattoday.wordpress.com)
On 12 Aug, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email invitation by a resident of Jalan Bintang Tiga in Opera Estate for their annual street party on 3 Sep.

It was their 12th street party, an unbroken tradition started since 2000 around National Day to allow neighbours to get together in a fun setting.

Jalan Bintang Tiga is special to me. I had lived for 27 years in my parents’ house in the next street before shifting to my matrimonial home nearby. I had walked by this street nearly every day when I was young. It was wonderful to know of neighbours getting together for a street party. I accepted the invitation without hesitation.

Pinata and Agar Agar displaying “12th Jln Bintang Tiga Street Party”

I like the idea of street parties. It is organised informally by a group of residents. There is no formal committee, just residents who want to gather together in a relaxed environment so that children and adults can better understand one another.

The star resident on Jalan Bintang Tiga is Mr Yasin, a resident who turns 100 this month. He came out in his wheelchair briefly for the photo-taking. It was awesome seeing some 50 residents gathered on the street. Some had already moved out of the area but continued to return yearly for the annual party. Each brought their own food for the potluck event. My wife contributed the sushi.

The Jln Bintang Tiga ‘Kampong’, with oldest resident Mr Yasin in the centre

Residents mingled freely with one another. Children ran around playing with each other. Volunteers helped organised the event. One resident, who is a contractor helped put up the lighting.  There were many open doors that night. I noted residents and children moving in and out of various houses at ease. It brings back memories of the kampong spirit.

Hitting the Pinata

It was interesting to even see a Straits Times reporter and its photographer for event. I had viewed this as a social gathering which I was most happy to attend to meet old neighbours and make new friends. I guess in the light of recent revelations that the PA had for a long time imposed restrictions on residents inviting opposition MPs for grassroots events, the neighbourliness of this event caught the media’s attention.

 Chatting with Charles, Siglap CCC member and Opera Estate Neighbourhood Committee Chairman

Chatting with residents

My GE2011 opponent, MP Charles Chong was there too. I had met him several times since GE2011 at various national level functions. The street party was the first time we met in a social gathering inside Joo Chiat SMC. Several times when we bumped into one another at events, we would compare notes on feedback by residents. Despite not being elected and not holding any meet-the-people session, some residents continue to give me feedback over issues.

Living inside of Joo Chiat SMC itself makes it easier for me to interact with residents. For some feedback, I helped to write in directly to various government authorities for their attention, copied to the MP. Some cases which I felt required the MP’s intervention, I advised the residents to go direct to the MP. Indeed I am happy to note that park facilities, drains and pavements have been attended to quite quickly by the authorities after the feedback.

We sometimes hear of ugly neighbours’ problems in private estates. Often, we hear that Singaporeans close themselves to their neighbours, hardly knowing one another. During GE2011, I spoke of the importance in having a friendly neighbourliness spirit. I saw that last night at the Jalan Bintang Tiga street party.


One comment on “A Street Party for Neighbourliness

  1. With people more interested in the values of their houses, very keen on en bloc to squeeze the highest prices, who will not hesitate to make life difficult for neighbors who are not keen to sell their houses, it is getting very rare to have such kind of quite cohesive community as seen here. Do cherish this closeness whether or not you remain as a politician. I miss this kind of neighborly closeness in my Marine Terrace area, which I used to get where I lived at Old Airport Road in the late 60s to mid-70s.

    You have a nice weekend.

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