First and foremost, They Told Us To Move is an important piece of Singapore history.

They Told Us to Move is a collection of interviews, reflections and short essays about many elderly Singaporean residents who had to relocate from Dakota (one of Singapore’s oldest public housing estates) to Cassia Crescent and the volunteers from the Cassia Resettlement Team who provided support during this relocation process.

This book gives a voice to a segment of society whose opinions are often unheard and ignored – the elderly.

It provides clear insight into how the elderly are not sickly and frail people we can just cast aside and forget about.

The older generation like us have their own vivid lives and memories and connections to the community. Their lived experiences and stories are just as important as ours. And in the face of adversity, change and loneliness, they prove to be really resilient in character and are pretty hopeful and optimistic about their new lives and memories, even when their important ties to the community around them are removed, and their homes in which they have lived in for so many decades are pulled down to make way for economic redevelopment.

They Told Us to Move is a bittersweet call to arms, to think about what we want Singapore society to be, and to acknowledge and embrace the community around us and to extend a helping hand to our neighbours.

They Told Us to Move: Dakota—Cassia edited by Ng Kok Hoe and the Cassia Resettlement Team published by Ethos Books (2019)

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