THE LANDLADY SPEAKS

Sng Mui Hong

Lorong Buangkok

Sng Mui Hong has lived in Kampong Lorong Buangkok all her life and is now landlady of the kampong. Established in 1956, it is the last remaining kampong on mainland Singapore.

On treasuring loved ones

I have lived in Kampong Buangkok my entire life, moving house within the kampong about three times. My mother passed away from leukemia when I was three, and my siblings and I were mostly taken care of our grandfather at home. I spent a lot of time at home reading books to the point that I would sometimes forget to do the household chores.

My grandfather was my companion and I remember him always busy practising his gongfu, playing the flute and singing Hokkien ballads. The ballads he sung were always to reminisce over the past. Maybe he was missed my late grandmother badly.

Photos of Sng Mui Hong in Kampong Buangkok over the years.

"Tolerate and bear with each other, to make up a home."

Do not get sofas!

Floods were frequent during heavy rain and we would take bricks to elevate our bed and cupboards. It was nothing too big to fret over. I remember the floods in 1977 were the worst and the water level was so high it reached my nose. I was frantically trying to save the food stock and kitchen items. That is why I tell others – if you are going to live in a kampong, do not get sofas! Otherwise when the flood ruins your sofas, it is a real heartache.

Be of help, be at peace

I will walk around the kampong to help the neighbours with their daily matters like clearing the canals, cutting the grass, catching snakes. As a result, I am familiar with every family's living habits and have also become the de-facto peacemaker when they quarrel. Sometimes, it is better to say less so there is a smaller chance of creating more disputes. One should always be courteous and tolerant, only then will family and neighbours live in harmony. The word 'Home' consists of many keystrokes – a family under one roof will have many fights, but we should bear with each other to make up a home.

In the past, the people living in the kampong really cared about the community. If there was any help needed, every one would step up immediately. But as time progresses, hearts change. They would say: "You're the landlady and collecting rent. Why do we need to help?"

To be honest, at this age, there is no more kampong spirit anymore. But I have never thought of moving out, because I can't bear to be away from this kampong. It is also my mission to keep this last kampong in Singapore alive.