What was life like on the ground for the farmers and market vendors who abruptly found themselves moving from wooden huts to modern high-rises in the middle of a rapidly developing city? There was exciting progress, yes, but much of the time it was tragic, hilarious, and absurd.
Lee Kuan Yew highlights some of these moments. Pig farmers, nudging their pigs up staircases to raise them in high-rise apartments. A family, gating off their kitchen for a dozen chickens and ducks. People walking up long flights of stairs because they were afraid of using elevators, using kerosene instead of electric bulbs, selling miscellaneous goods from ground-floor flats. (99) He grows somber as he talks about resettling older farmers, how even generous compensation money didn’t matter next to losing “their pigs, ducks, chickens, fruit trees, and vegetable plots,” and how many of the older farmers never really stopped resenting the change. (180)