You don’t want it here, they don’t want it there, so where do we built it?You don’t want it here, they don’t want it there, so where do we built it?

Recently, the communal beauty that the void deck represented has been tainted with a case of ‘NIMBY’ or ‘Not in my Backyard’, a concern recently raised my our own Prime Minister.

A couple of months ago, residents in Woodlands and Toh Yi petitioned against the construction of elder case facilities in their own estates, claiming that it was not that they did not support the move, just so long as it was not in their void deck or neighborhood. The question then is, whose void deck is it anyway?

Ultimately the void deck is a public space that was meant to promote communal bonding among residents. For kids, the void deck was meant to hang around while waiting for the school bus, the ‘illegal’ area in block catching, and a strictly, but often overlooked location for a game of soccer. More recently, in March 2012, National Environment Agency moved to ban smoking in common corridors, void decks and staircases of residential buildings. Although move eventually aims to promote public health, this leads us to think so what eventually can be done in our void decks? Do we in future really leave it a as “void”?

The void deck is not just an open space, in the past, these sheltered area used to be “labeled” in architectural plans drawn by HDB as “play areas”. These areas helped to promote tolerance on so many levels, that without it, one would probably be clueless to sensitivities of the different races and religions. Also in April, news broke that residents in Little India wants to bar foreigners from loitering in their void decks. The void deck is a distinct public space; barring anyone from such a space goes against this distinction. This is another manifestation of a disturbing Singaporean trait: The “not in my backyard” syndrome.

It is perhaps rather saddening to see such cases of ‘Not in my Backyard’ sprouting up as it shows the lack of tolerance and graciousness that the void deck was supposed to represent.Yes, construction is going to be annoying, and it may cause disturbances primarily for residents on the lower levels.

Yet, unless the residents can ultimately state that they use the void deck on a super regular basis, or that the elderly facilities will cause catastrophic effects to their livelihood, I say take it as a little sacrifice you give for someone else. Something I found puzzling is that if the residents can accommodate children day-care centres, why not elderly care centres? Similarly day-care centres also poses a similar threat to the residents such as hand foot mouth diseases (HFMD) amongst other disturbances such as crying of children, kids running ands shouting in the facility.

Who knows, you may just need that elderly care centre one day, if not for you, then for the parents that brought you up. ‘The void deck is a place for collective idling’,’ said Chua Beng Huat, a professor with the National University of Singapore’s sociology department. More than that, sharing the void deck is also part of Singapore’s strictly enforced social policies aimed at ensuring harmony among the races in a region often torn by religious and ethnic strife but now seemed to be doing the otherwise. With all these “sagas” happening, this might just be the precursor of the demise of the void deck.