Being a considerate neighbour makes for a happy neighbourhood

by Our Neighbourhood
Being a considerate neighbour makes for a happy neighbourhood

More than 80 per cent of Singaporeans live in HDB blocks. Living in such close proximity often leads to lifelong friendships among neighbours and the community at large. One such example is that of Clementi resident Mr Mike Tan, a photographer and food consultant. In 2019, he was one of 14 recipients of the Good Neighbour Award for his ideal neighbour conduct. Mr Tan shares a delightful range of homecooked food with his neighbours, taking only a nominal fee for his efforts.

Other heartwarming stories that evoke the quintessential kampung spirit include that of an HDB resident, Ms Pearl Pang, who took care of her cancer-stricken neighbour by cooking food for the latter, or in the case of a cabbie, Mr William Koo, who saved his elderly neighbour who had been alone at home when he was rendered unconscious by a sudden stroke.

While such feel-good stories encourage everyone to forge close bonds with their neighbours, misunderstandings or disputes may also often arise. There could be many reasons behind this, including personal behaviour or miscommunication.

Authorities observed an increase in neighbourly misunderstandings in 2020, likely due to more people staying at home during the Covid-19 “circuit breaker” period. But most neighbourly disputes can be resolved with thoughtfulness, meaningful discussion and patience.

For example, if a resident wants to approach his neighbour about the latter’s inconsiderate behaviour, they should find the most appropriate time to speak to them and not confront the neighbour during a moment of anger or in front of other residents, as this might create awkward moments.

Try to keep calm and be polite during the conversation as both parties attempt to talk things through. Finally, thank the neighbour for his or her time and wait a few days to see if the problem has been resolved.

If there are difficulties engaging the neighbour with whom you have a disagreement, residents can contact their grassroots leaders (GRLs) for help. They can get in touch with their GRLs through the nearest community club.

In the event that initial attempts for a fruitful engagement with the neighbour fails, one can consider going for mediation at the Community Mediation Centre (CMC), which is a less drastic and less costly measure than going to court. A trained neutral third-party, the mediator will facilitate a conversation between the parties involved in a dispute.

Both parties will explain the issues underlying the conflict to the mediator during mediation. This can be done either together as a group or in separate private sessions. The mediator will then guide both parties towards coming up with acceptable solutions. Once a mutually satisfactory solution has been decided upon, both parties will enter into a written agreement.

Find out more about CMC’s mediation services and register the case, or call the hotline at 1800-CALL-LAW (1800-2255-529). More than 70 per cent of the cases mediated at CMC reach a settlement.

We can all be good neighbours and live in harmony. Here are some tips to be a considerate neighbour:

  • Keep the noise within your unit to a reasonable level.
  • Keep the common corridor free of bulky items, and ensure it is accessible during medical emergencies.
  • Dispose of unwanted items and litter in the designated rubbish bins.
  • Do squeeze the laundry of excess water before hanging the wet clothes to dry.