Political Legitimacy and Housing: Stakeholding in Singapore

By Chua Beng-Huat | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

Adjusting religious practices to different house-forms

Apart from the transformation of community life, resettlement also induces changes in cultural practices that are embedded in the indigenous architectural idioms; such practices have to be recast so as to fit into standardized modern high-rise flats. Such cultural changes, which constitute an aspect of resettlement adjustments neglected in the literature, will be examined in this chapter.

Prior to resettlement into high-rise flats, Chinese and Malays lived in architecturally distinct houses, each reflecting the social, cultural and religious values of the respective groups. Significantly, although constituting up to 8 per cent of the total population, and often concentrated in certain districts close to their places of employment, Indians in Singapore did not develop their own ethnically distinct architecture. Among the possible reasons for this is that until after the Second World War, family formation among Indians, though not entirely absent, did not occur in significant numbers. Indian men who came in search of employment lived largely in dormitories or in quarters provided by the employers. Those who did form families appeared to have adapted themselves into existing house-forms (Siddique and Puru Shotam, 1982). For example, in a village in the northern part of the island where there was a concentration of Indians because of proximity to the naval base which provided substantial employment opportunities for them, the Indians lived in houses that were similar in layout to those of the Chinese, described below, but with a different pattern of usage.

Exclusive ethnic settlements have been dispersed as a result of the HDB’s first-come-first-served allocation procedure and the government’s explicit policy goal of physical ethnic integration through public housing itself—a policy which is analysed in Chapter 7. As it happened, a major adjustment to living in flats concerns the religious practices of the three ethnic groups, disclosing the deep-rooted significance of religion in what

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Political Legitimacy and Housing: Stakeholding in Singapore
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Figures x
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Public-Housing Policies Compared 12
  • Chapter 2 - From City to Nation 27
  • Chapter 3 - Resettling a Chinese Village 51
  • Chapter 4 - Modernism and the Vernacular 70
  • Chapter 5 - Adjusting Religious Practices to Different House-Forms 90
  • Chapter 6 - A Practicable Concept of Community in a High-Rise Housing Environment 113
  • Chapter 7 - Public Housing and Political Legitimacy 124
  • Chapter 8 - Nostalgia for the Kampung 152
  • Notes 168
  • References 174
  • Author Index 181
  • Subject Index 184
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