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SINGAPORE'S ONLY VILLAGE

Sudip K Roy

Singapore has a village. At least I did not have any idea. Hence I decided to do a little bit of fact check during one of my visits to that Country. In the early 1960s, Singapore was a poverty stricken swampy land with small villages. Subsequent to rapid development and urbanization under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yu, Singapore not only became a planned Island City State but also a vibrant economy. It is today one of the most advanced and affluent countries not only in South East Asia but also in the World. Singapore is symbolized by iconic buildings, excellent road network apart from being home to the world's best Airport. 

The written history of Singapore dates back to the 3rd Century. A significant trading settlement existed here during 14th Century. In the late 14th Century, Singapore was under the rule of Chola dynasty. In 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles with permission of the Ruler to set up a Trading Port on the Island which matured into yet led yet another British colony.
Singapore was swampy land comprising of Kampongs meaning villages. Most of these Kampongs have been converted into urban areas comprising of high-riseCondominiums & Apartments, Shopping Plazas, etc. But residents of one Kampong named LorongBuangkok resisted attempts to save the last surviving village in Singapore. 

Originally a swamp, the land was purchased by SngTeow Koon in 1956 and then small plots were rented out to Malay and Chinese families for them to settle down and build houses. At its peak, there were over 40 families who had settled in this Kampong (village).

Now Koon's daughter is the landlady and she lives here. With less than 30 families residing here these days, the community still remains tight-knit where everyone knows everyone. Except a small Chinese eatery run by a resident family, there is nothing in this so called village other than small village type residential cottages. 

All the houses are designed like Cottages but without any visible mark of affluence. Houses are tin roofed with courtyards. Entry Gates to most of the houses are painted in bright color. Although surroundings look very familiar to well off villages in our country, but families residing in the Kanmpong are rich. 

During my trip to this Kampong one afternoon I met MrNadeem, a resident of this village. I had a lengthy interaction with him. He finally mentioned that pressure is mounting from the Government to give way to urbanization and they might have to agree on a deal in near future and the village will disappear.

Anyway I liked this small Out-of-the-Box place popularly known as 'The Only Village in Singapore'. MrNadeem offered me a lift to City Center but could not accept it as I was having a different path to take. Thanking MrNadeem profusely for his gesture, we parted ways with a thin hope that this cute small Village would survive the onslaught of urbanization and remain as the only Village of Singapore.






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