Tuesday, 12 May 2015

PM Lee Hsien Loong officially opens Punggol 21 Community Club on 10 May 2015

Punggol reflects residents’ spirit of togetherness, says PM Lee
By Joy Fang, TODAY, 11 May 2015

What really makes an estate a home is not only its infrastructure and facilities, but also a spirit of togetherness among residents who take pride in shaping their town and nurturing their community.

And Punggol fits the bill, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday at the official launch of the Punggol 21 Community Club, where he was the guest of honour.

Punggol 21 has been a long time in the making. We started in 1998, slowed down in the Global Financial Crisis, but got...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, May 10, 2015

Through the efforts of Member of Parliament Penny Low (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) and her grassroots leaders, the town is now a thriving one with houses and a growing population.

“They started from scratch; it was a brand-new town. They had to set up everything,” said Mr Lee.

This included Residents’ Committees, childcare centres, eateries and public transport facilities.

“For Punggol to be a success, we need not just the buildings, roads, trains and buses ... but also that spirit of togetherness among the residents. I know the residents are working together to make it work,” he noted. “That’s the way we’d like all of Singapore to be.”

Echoing his sentiments, Ms Low said that what seems like impossible tasks can be done if they are “sufficiently supported and desired by the ground” and if people are willing to take responsibility in making things happen. Punggol’s transformation from a barren place to what it is today is an example of ground-driven initiatives, added Ms Low, who had lobbied residents who gave negative feedback about their estate, encouraging them to be grassroots leaders to help improve things.

There are now about 300 to 400 official grassroots leaders, more than 10 eating places and as of February, 32 childcare centres and eight kindergartens.

Punggol Point and Tebing Lane, which boasts eateries and recreation parks, but was originally not in the Government’s blueprint for Punggol, is another feather in their cap.

To justify the funds required, Ms Low and her grassroots leaders spent time persuading government agencies that the land parcels were worth developing.

However, they had a hard time getting vendors to set up shop, as they initially thought it was not worth their investment. The whole process took six to seven years before their plans came to fruition, she said.

The community club, which had a soft launch in 2012, was initially built “as a plain vanilla building”. It gradually evolved, following residents’ input, to include art tiles, sculptures, community gardens and murals.

The town is set for more developments. Upcoming plans include Watertown, Punggol’s first integrated waterfront residential and retail development, as well as a hawker centre and two or three mega childcare centres.

All these would not have been possible without the residents, said Ms Low. “All hands have to be on deck ... The place belongs to our residents ... We want them to be empowered and exercise their responsibilities ... It’s people who make the difference.”

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