In Singapore, we have Good Neighbour Award (GNA) organised by HDB (Housing Development Board) and PA (People’s Association), and supported by SKM (Singapore Kindness Movement) & SPH (Singapore Press Holdings).
Started in year 2009, this annual award recognises and honours those living in our heartlands who have gone the extra miles to enrich their community with exemplary acts of care and neighbourliness. It is an award opened for nomination from the public, and consists of two categories – Open Category & Student Category.
Such an award is not uniquely Singapore. From a search online, I understand that many communities around the world, like the UK, USA, Canada and Australia also have such an award in place. I welcome such an initiative because I also feel that those who have made a difference to the lives of their neightbours or communities deserve to be recognised.
Two days ago, after watching the Good Morning Singapore (早安您好）TV programme that discussed on the topic of good neighbours in one of its segments, it actually set me thinking for a while and a few questions began to surface in my mind.
What is the definition of a good neighbour? Do I have to interact or mingle with my neighbours, know them well or do something for them in order to be qualified as a good neighbour? Very often, the discussion or focus is on what one has done or can do in a tangible manner, but overlooks what one should not do.
DS and I have been residents in our current housing estate since 2002. Like in all the previous places we have lived, we hardly know our neighbours although we recognise some of the familiar faces. We have never taken part in any community activities or events. We keep our door closed at all times even with visitors around (Anyway, this is not uncommon for many HDB dwellers). The only neighbour we know is our direct neighbour of over 10 years (a family of four living opposite our unit). By saying we know them, it means we greet each other when we meet or share the same lift. At times, we exchange a few words. When we are out of town, we keep each other informed. That’s about all.
Nevertheless, we are not at all apathetic or unaware of our neighbours and surroundings.
1. I have a neighbour that often hangs out stinky laundry and at times, the unpleasant smell can be felt even in my kitchen and dining area.
2. I have a neighbour that always burns joss papers at the common staircase area despite the fact that this is against our housing regulations. Imagine waking up in the morning with a strong unpleasant burning smell! I am concerned about fire as well as health hazards. While I respect my neighbour’s religious belief and practice, it is only appropriate that such a practice be carried out at the areas on the ground floor designated by town council. I have raised this issue to my town council a few times but unfortunately, nothing concrete has been done, and the issue remains unresolved.
3. I have neighbours that like to dispose bulky items near the lift lobby area although there is actually free service for disposing bulky items provided by our town council. Such service is just a phone call away.
4. I have neighbours with kids playing and roller-blading at the void deck. At times, the noise was so loud that it could be heard even on a high floor. As far as I understand, kids are not supposed to play at the void deck.
5. I have a neighbour, an old man that I have seen him philandering at my staircase area with an old lady from a neighbouring block. This same man also has the habit of staring at me (and perhaps others too) if I, unfortunately, bumped into him at the lift lobby. I find this very annoying.
These are examples of what I would describe as bad neighbours.
Therefore, I feel that the definition of a good neighbour should not just focus what one does but also what one does not do to his/her neighbours especially inconsiderate acts that cause discomfort, such as those mentioned above.
So, I reckon DS and I are actually good neighbours! We don’t do to others what we don’t want others do to us. 🙂