SINGAPORE - During a Hari Raya gathering two years ago, former residents of Kampung Radin Mas who had not seen one another for 40 years met up and found something they thought had disappeared - the kampung spirit.
"It was an emotional gathering," said one of the ex-residents, 75-year-old Wan Hussin Zoohri. "Residents were greeting one another like it was on Friday and there was still a spirit of togetherness...
"It would be a waste if we did not capture the spirit and memories of this kampung."
The reunion inspired the former Aljunied GRC MP and three other ex-residents to produce a book to document life in the Radin Mas village at the foothills of Mount Faber.
On Friday, A Village Remembered: Kampong Radin Mas 1800s To 1973 was launched, giving readers a glimpse of life in the Malay kampung before it was demolished in 1973 to make way for a satellite town.
The 248-page book is based on historical documents and interviews with more than 80 former and current residents.
It is an "important document" for it provides today's youth with "a window into the past" where the kampung spirit comes alive, said Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob at the launch.
The book recounts the origins of the village, how it was like under Japanese and colonial rule, famous landmarks in Kampung Radin Mas and even ghost sightings.
Stories also illustrate the community spirit at work, for instance, how wealthier villagers stepped forward to donate money to mosques and madrasahs.
"A resident told me that houses in the kampung were further but people were closer. Now houses are closer, but people are further," said the book's editor Ibrahim Tahir.
The coffee-table book is available for $80 at all major bookstores including Kinokuniya. Kampung Radin Mas residents will hold another Hari Raya gathering for about 600 people on Sept 1, when the book will be shown to the community.
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