Hard for old-timers to say goodbye

Hard for old-timers to say goodbye

For nearly 50 years, a small cluster of low-rise Housing Board flats have stood in the heart of Siglap, alongside posh condominiums, stylish restaurants and pricey landed homes.

In about two years' time, these four blocks at the junction of Siglap Road and East Coast Road will be demolished under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers).

And they will take a small slice of Singapore history with them.

On the first day of Chinese New Year in 1962, a fire razed 50 attap huts on the site. The flats were built to house affected residents, and were officially declared open in 1964 by Mr Rahim Ishak, then the assemblyman for Siglap.

The beige-and-brown development still looks the same today. It has never been upgraded and has no lifts. But it retains much of its old-world charm that residents like social welfare worker Mary Lee, 54, will miss when the bulldozers finally arrive.

"This place is very quiet and very peaceful. I will miss this place because I go to East Coast Park for exercise every day and the food here is very nice," she said.

Almost all of the 117 flats are tiny two-room units, served by a single staircase in each block. A third of the flats are rental units.

Under Sers, the current flat owners have been given priority to buy new flats in Chai Chee Road at subsidised prices.

But for the shopkeepers, some of whom have plied their trades at the ground level of these flats since the 1960s, it is the end of a long road.

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