Kampung spirit alive and well at Singapore’s first ‘friendly street’

Singapore's inaugural Friendly Neighbourhood Award was announced at Jalan Bintang Tiga's street potluck party.

Nicole Descalsota

Published: 22 August 2022, 4:43 PM

The Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) announced Singapore’s inaugural Friendly Neighbourhood Award on Saturday (Aug 20) at Jalan Bintang Tiga’s street potluck party.

The award, which will soon be awarded to more communities in Singapore, recognises initiatives aimed at fostering neighbourliness and a close community spirit that results in a more cohesive, united Singapore. 

Jalan Bintang Tiga, located in Opera Estate near Bedok, was crowned as the first “friendly street” by SKM in 2019.

Residents had gathered to enjoy their annual ‘Big Makan’ potluck celebration, which made a return after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. 


Jalan Bintang Tiga Singapore Kindness Movement Friendly Neighbourhood Award
A variety of cuisines were prepared by the residents, with dishes such as biryani and lor mai gai. PHOTO CREDIT: NICOLE DESCALSOTA


The potluck celebration, where neighbours come together and share food with each other, is a tradition that has been carried out for 21 years. 

It became a common practice that is carried out casually among neighbours –– even when the street party was on hiatus during the pandemic, 15-year-old resident Santini Chua told Youthopia. 

She said: “My parents and the neighbours would cook and give food to each other during the pandemic. It became common practice.

“It’d be good if they keep organising the event so we can continue that camaraderie between neighbours.” 


Jalan Bintang Tiga Singapore Kindness Movement Friendly Neighbourhood Award decorations
Despite the rainy afternoon, neighbours banded together to prepare for the event. PHOTO CREDIT: NICOLE DESCALSOTA


Despite the break the event took during the pandemic, Santini observed that the energy was as fun as it was pre-pandemic. She attributed the residents’ continued kampung spirit to the fact that friendliness was an everyday action, not just something that happens during special occasions.

“On a daily basis, I see my neighbours and say hi,” she added. 

Over 100 guests attended the celebration, including current and previous neighbours. 

The community is not limited to the space where people are living, said Mr Yee Jenn Jong. Although he no longer lives in Jalan Bintang Tiga, he still feels like he’s a part of the community. 

Similar sentiments were echoed by guest-of-honour and Minister of Parliament for Joo Chiat Mr Edwin Tong, who is also Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law. 


Jalan Bintang Tiga Singapore Kindness Movement Friendly Neighbourhood Award
“Over time, our residents at Jalan Bintang Tiga here have grown to become tight-knit, cohesive and look out for one another with a smile. That is how Singapore’s first “Friendly Street” came about in 2019,” said Mr Edwin Tong. PHOTO CREDIT: NICOLE DESCALSOTA


“I met some people here who haven’t even moved in yet, but they [were] already invited here,” said Mr Tong. 

“It’s [truly] about a spirit of kindness.” 

Also in attendance were SKM general secretary Dr William Wan, and Ms Michelle Tay, head of partnerships and senior associate general secretary of SKM.

Ms Tay said: “We’re neighbours by chance, friends by choice.

“By connecting with our neighbours from different backgrounds, we are also able to eradicate prejudices and become more compassionate towards each other.”

Nominations for Singapore’s Friendly Neighbourhood Award will be open from October 2022 to January 2023, and are open to public and private housing entries.

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