Squatters into Citizens: The 1961 Bukit Ho Swee Fire and the Making of Modern Singapore - ASAA Southeast Asia Series (Paperback)Kah Seng Loh (author)
Paperback 300 Pages / Published: 02/09/2013
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The crowded, bustling, 'squatter' kampongs so familiar across Southeast Asia have long since disappeared from Singapore, leaving no visible trace of their historical influence on the social life in the city-state. Fifty years have passed since the great fire at Bukit Ho Swee destroyed the kampong, left 16,000 people homeless, gave rise to a national emergency and led to the first big public housing project, a seminal event in the making of modern Singapore. Loh Kah Seng grew up in one-room rental flats in the HDB estate built after the fire. Drawing on oral history interviews, official records and media reports, he describes daily life in squatter communities and how people coped with the hazard posed by fires. His examination of the catastrophic events of 25 May 1961 and the steps taken by the new government of the People's Action Party in response to the disaster show the immediate consequences of the fire and how relocation to public housing changed people's lives. Through a narrative that is both vivid and subtle, the book explores the nature of memory and probes beneath the hard surfaces of modern Singapore to understand the everyday life of the people who live in the city.
Publisher: NIAS Press
Number of pages: 300
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