Jalan Besar's $20 million 'carrot'
Plans for estate upgrading scheme unveiled for Jalan Besar as PAP candidates for the GRC are announced
Are the carrots out again?
For Jalan Besar GRC residents, it possibly comes in the form of a $20 million estate upgrading scheme, slated to happen over the next five years.
This includes about 200 improvements to covered walkways, residents' corners and other community facilities in the newly-revived Jalan Besar GRC, which will take over the soon-to-be-defunct Moulmein-Kallang GRC. (See report on facing page.)
This facilities improvement master plan, titled "My Kampung in the City", was unveiled yesterday by Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim and his team of MPs near Block 63, Kallang Bahru, where an exhibition showcasing the details of the estate upgrading scheme was held.
Dr Yaacob, Mr Heng Chee How, Dr Lily Neo and Ms Denise Phua also announced that they will be standing in Jalan Besar GRC in the coming general election.
But Dr Yaacob played down the notion that this five-year plan was part of a bid to sway voters ahead of the GE.
"We are just about to complete our last five-year plan. So the planning...started much earlier," he told reporters yesterday.
He added that the current plan to improve the estate was spearheaded by Moulmein-Kallang MP and chairman of the town council Edwin Tong. It is slated to be completed between the end of this year and the start of next year.
From left to right: Dr Lily Neo, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Ms Denise Phua and Mr Heng Chee How. TNP PHOTO: RONALD LOH
As such, the new "draft" is being introduced early to gather feedback from residents, Dr Yaacob said.
"This is just a draft... where we have some ideas. So this exhibition will travel across the GRC to collect ideas before we finalise the masterplan."
Dr Yaacob also said that he and his team have delivered on their 2011 election promises.
Since 2011, their wards have seen lift upgrades, childcare, youth and senior activity centres, and a new bus service 140.
The promise of Housing Board estate upgrades to win votes has been used by the People's Action Party (PAP) since the 1997 election.
But such a tactic may not be as effective and appealing to voters today, said Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan.
"Voters don't doubt the PAP's ability to deliver these estate upgrades. It's not game-changing any more. In fact, voters may now expect the PAP to produce these plans.
"Today, many voters see the worth of the opposition in a different light - to have more opposing voices in Parliament," he said.
But Associate Professor Tan said there is still value in offering these estate upgrades as some may be swayed by the prospect of having these enhancements bump up their property prices.
National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser said the timing of this new five-year masterplan for Jalan Besar GRC may be useful as it reminds voters what the party has done in the past and that it will continue to do more, if elected.
"It can be helpful to persuade the undecided voters, especially if the opposition challengers have little to offer, except the promise of greater opposition voices in Parliament," he said.
But he said that this cannot be the only benefit to voters that the PAP promises to offer.
People's Power Party chief Goh Meng Sengcriticised the use of such upgrades, calling the tactic "insincere".
"What sort of values would this teach the future generation - that everything can be bought?
"Voters today are more concerned with broader issues such as job security, healthcare and retirement. They want more than just physical improvements," he said.
Residents approached by The New Paper were mostly indifferent to the estate upgrade masterplan.
Food and beverage manager Ng Chee Yoong, 40, who lives in Bendemeer, said his estate has been undergoing upgrading for years and the five-year master plan was not new.
Mr Biswajit Sen, 54, who works in IT and is a Kallang Bahru resident of 18 years, saw nothing wrong with the dangling of such carrots.
"I think it's good that candidates publicise what they can promise and what they can do," he said.
SPOTLIGHT ON JALAN BESAR
PAP: Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Mr Heng Chee How, Dr Lily Neo, Ms Denise Phua
Did not exist — was part of Moulmein-Kallang
PAP: Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Ms Denise Phua, Mr Edwin Tong and Dr Yaacob Ibrahim
% of vote: 58.5
WP: Ms Frieda Chan, Mr L Somasundaram, Mr Mohd Rahizan Ya’acob, Mr Toh Hong Boon
% of vote: 41.5
PAP: Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Mr Heng Chee How, Mr Lee Boon Yang, Dr Lily Neo, Ms Denise Phua
% of vote: 69.3
SDA: Mr Cheo Chai Chen, Mr Fong Chin Leong, Mr Muhamad ali aman, Mr Sebastian Teo, Mr Vincent Yeo
% of vote: 30.7
ABOUT THE MASTER PLAN
Costing $20 million, the promised five-year master plan for Jalan Besar GRC includes upgrades to:
- 22 covered walkways
- 37 children's playgrounds
- 37 fitness corners
- 11 residents' corners
- 17 amphitheatres or community halls
- 8 community gardens
The town council also has plans to carry out the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, an upgrading scheme by the Housing Board, at four precincts.
There will also be new projects and upgrading works by Government agencies such as:
- 7 new residential precincts, lift upgrading programmes and home improvement programmes by HDB
- 2 Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) Waters programmes by the Public Utilities Board
- 4 new MRT stations and road widening by the Land Transport Authority
Lim Hng Kiang part of West Coast GRC's slate
Amid speculation that Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang (right) may be stepping down from politics, the veteran politician yesterday confirmed that he will stand in the upcoming general election as part of West Coast GRC's slate.
"Well, I've served as an MP for 24 years, and I reckon... I'm the only MP left from (the 1991) batch. So I think this illustrates the fact that many of the political leaders are getting on their age," Mr Lim said at a press conference at the bustling Boon Lay Place Market & Food Centre.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr S. Iswaran, who is also second minister in both the Home Affairs and Trade and Industry ministries, will co-lead the GRC with Mr Lim.
He added: "Hng Kiang is well known to the residents of West Coast and with experience and all that he's done in Government and the ground, he'll be a great asset to our team..."
With Clementi now under Jurong GRC after the recent electoral boundaries review, the GRC now has four members.
Mr Arthur Fong, who has served as the MP for Clementi since 2001, will not be standing.
Ms Foo Mee Har, now MP for Ayer Rajah, remains in the West Coast team.
A newcomer to the team is Mr Patrick Tay, formerly from Nee Soon East. He replaces Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who is now part of the new Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.
It is a relatively unfamiliar area, but Mr Tay has ironically reconnected with some familiar faces: senior grassroots leaders he had met while serving in the grassroots, as well as union leaders and members.
"When I started my career in the NTUC, I serviced the Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Employees' Union, so Jurong Shipyard, Keppel, many of the factories in Tuas area, in Pioneer area and Boon Lay are not unfamiliar to me," he said, adding that he wanted to be a "voice for our workers" in Parliament.
- Foo Jieying
New face in Chua Chu Kang
Mr Yee Chia Hsing (photo), 44, was unveiled as the PAP's new candidate for the party's Chua Chu Kang GRC team.
He has been helping out in Chua Chu Kang since last month, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who introduced Mr Yee at a press conference at the party's Nanyang Branch yesterday.
Mr Yee is taking over the Nanyang ward from lawyer Alvin Yeo, a senior counsel at Wong Partnership, who is retiring from politics.
Mr Yee, who grew up in Jurong, went to Raffles Institution and Raffles Junior College, then studied accountancy at the Nanyang Technological University, where he graduated with first class honours.
He is the head of Catalist at CIMB Bank Singapore, where he is responsible for identifying and helping promising small and medium enterprises raise funds through listing on the Singapore Exchange.
The father of two started volunteering in 2008 at the children's ward of St Andrew's Community Hospital.
He had been warded there for two months when he was in Primary 1, an experience that inspired him to give back by volunteering.
In 2011, he started helping out in grassroots at Chong Pang.
From late last year, he was branch chairman of the PAP's Punggol East branch until he went to Chua Chu Kang last month.
The Chua Chu Kang team, led by Mr Gan, also includes Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development Low Yen Ling and Mr Zaqy Mohamad. - Elizabeth Law
Team of veterans to stand in GRC
They are an experienced team who have a total of close to 60 years of parliamentary experience.
Yesterday, the People's Action Party unveiled a team of veterans to contest the revived four-man Jalan Besar GRC in the upcoming general election.
The line-up is led by Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, 59.
Also on the team is Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Heng Chee How, 54, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Social and Family Development, Dr Lily Neo, 62, and Mayor of Central Singapore District, Ms Denise Phua, 55.
Said Dr Yaacob: "We are not unfamiliar with this area. We have served Jalan Besar for years... But the wealth of experience also tells us we cannot take voters for granted and (we want to) reach out to every resident possible to convince them that we are the best team to lead them in the next election."
The team is likely to face the Workers' Party at the upcoming polls.
The four MPs were part of then five-member team which contested Jalan Besar GRC in 2006.
The other member of that team was Dr Lee Boon Yang, who retired from politics in 2011.
Before the announcement of the Jalan Besar GRC five-year master plan, the four MPs mingled with the public at a grassroots event at Kallang Bahru, where they helped to prepare and serve breakfast items such as kaya toast, eggs and coffee.