“Isn’t this the closest portrait you can have a Singapore family? Hardworking, interested in education, close-knit. Birthday celebrations and family outings. Brother looking after brother. No maid. Mother making some extra dough for the family. Grandparents pitching in to help. Framed pictures of the family around the house, including what looks like a kindergarten graduation photo – that so important picture in a Singapore family. A void-deck wake.

These are the people who make up Singapore. Not those who can afford sky suites or a second property, or send their children for Gifted tuition classes, or ferry them to school in the family car.”

Bertha Harian

I don’t know if you have read TNP on Sunday, but you should go buy it. It has an interview with the mother of the two boys who died in that horrific crash in Tampines. Not because I think people should prey on her grief, but to have an insight to a typical Singaporean household – it breaks my heart. It is so familiar.

In all that discussion about what kind of Singapore we want to be and what sort of numbers, immigrants and babies we should have, do we know enough about how most Singapore families live and the values they hold?

The Yaps live in a four-room HDB flat – father in the SAF, mother who was Indonesian turned citizen and two school-going children. It’s not just this profile and housing type which struck me but the mother’s account of the children’s growing up years and the family’s…

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