updated 24 Oct 2010, 12:30
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Tue, Mar 10, 2009
The Sunday Times
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Block mates
by Tay Suan Chiang and Rachael Boon

Who: Businessman Mohamed Haniffa, 70, housewife Siti Zubaidah, in her late 50s, their five children and eight grandchildren

Home: 12-storey apartment block in Keng Lee Road

The Haniffa family used to live in a three-storey bungalow before Mr Mohamed decided to construct a 12storey apartment building in its place.

His fourth daughter Farzana Begum, a part-time student in her 20s, says: 'My father has been planning a home like this for a long time. He wants us to have property of our own in the future and to be secure.'

Each unit in the building, with distinctive onion-shaped domes on the roof and a wading pool (right) on the roof, has four bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room.

Family members gather at Mr Mohamed's apartment on the top floor every evening for a chat. With two lifts that stop at every floor, it is easy for them to visit one another.

Eldest daughter Irfana Begum, 35, who lives on the sixth floor, says: 'Even though we do not live in the same house, we're still near each other and we can visit one another any time.'

The businesswoman says: 'I have my siblings to take care of my kids - if one is sick, there is always a helping hand and all the children can go to school together.'

Youngest daughter Razinah Begum, 24, says: 'There are advantages to living so close together. I live in the same unit as my parents. If there's no food here and I'm hungry, I can visit any of the other homes.'

This article was first published in The Sunday Times.

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