I read about the plight of the charcoal dealers in Lorong Halus. After relocating there 2 years ago, and spending a lot of time and money setting up their business again, they are forced to move out again. This time, it is to make way for the redevelopment of Lorong Halus into a nature park with facilities for young people to wakeboard, kayak etc.
It is by no means a thriving trade. In fact, it is a dying industry. Only some old timers are merely getting by. Who uses charcoal in Singapore these days? Life is difficult as it is. Yet the authorities are not making it any easier.
We keep pushing for and supporting the IT or bioscience sector, what about the other people still in the ‘archaic’ trades?
I remember years ago when the villagers were forced to move out of their ‘kampongs’. These farmers have spent all their lives working in the fields from day break till dark. The work kept them healthy and the fact that they are providing for their families gave them a healthy sense of pride. Not forgetting the camaraderie in the villages made kampong life particularly enjoyable.
Suddenly they had to give up everything. Armed with a small sum of money compensated by the government, most could only afford a small flat. Imagine from the vast open fields that they have been so accustomed to, they started waking up to face the four walls of their apartment. Being illiterate, many could not find jobs, nor could they adjust to the new way of life. Some were driven to insanity. Illnesses started to creep in due to the lack of exercise and change in lifestyle. Suddenly they even had to rely on their children for allowance.
Sad. Really sad. But who is really listening to the woes of these people?