Saturday, 5 September 2015

GE 2015: Aljunied can be transformed again under PAP govt, says PM Lee Hsien Loong

PM Lee outlines plans for new MRT stations, better amenities and a spruced-up waterway
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 5 Sep 2015

Aljunied GRC turned from one of the poorest parts of Singapore into a vibrant place, and its transformation can continue under a People's Action Party (PAP) government, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night (Sept 4).

Speaking at a PAP rally in the Workers' Party-held area last night, he detailed plans for new MRT stations, better amenities and a spruced-up waterway.

The biggest project is a long-term plan to develop 800ha to be freed up when the Paya Lebar airbase moves to Changi, 15 to 20 years from now. Many homes, factories and offices can be built on the land, an area larger than Ang Mo Kio.

That will give residents a good chance of living near their parents or children, workplaces and green parks. "But you need a PAP government to do that," he said.

The GRC was won by the WP in 2011 with 54.7 per cent of the valid votes, and the PAP is going all out to win it back this year.

Mr Lee spent a part of his speech reminding residents of the enormous changes in the area.

"Forty, 50 years ago, this was a backward place, a very poor part of Singapore, full of kampungs," he said, citing the Jalan Eunos Malay settlement, Kampung Batak, Kampung Ubi and Kampung Wak Tanjong and others as examples.

Chinese kampungs such as Kampung Yew Keng near Lorong Tai Seng - famed for being gangster territory - were there too.

Nearby, there were also bungalows on stilts in the Hillside Drive and Parry Road area - as well as a famous Chinese temple and hawker food, he said.

Mr Lee said he had spent time in Aljunied GRC serving national service in the Jalan Kambing camp in Paya Lebar. "Today the camp is gone, Jalan Kambing is gone, their kambing (Malay for "goat") also is gone. But I'm not gone, I'm back," he said to cheers from the crowd.

"Just look around you - the houses, the fields, the trains, the roads. Year by year, (with) the PAP Government working with you, we have transformed Aljunied," he said. The kampungs became new towns, while Bedok Reservoir was built. Calling it a beautiful place, Mr Lee said he frequently went for evening walks there with his family.

He also once served as the MP in charge of the Serangoon Gardens part of Aljunied GRC, when the private estate was under Ang Mo Kio GRC.

During his time there, Serangoon Gardens' roads were improved, its drains were covered and the hawker centres upgraded under the then-new Estate Upgrading Project. The PAP did all that because it wanted to make things better for residents, he said.

If the PAP is voted back into Aljunied GRC, it can transform the area in and around it again.

In next-door Marine Parade GRC, for instance, the new Paya Lebar Central commercial hub is being developed, with the Lifelong Learning Institute already in place.

Residents can also visit Wisma Geylang Serai, which will be ready in two years, he said, adding that it will be even more lively and colourful during the Hari Raya season.

A revamped Defu Industrial Estate, MRT stations, improved amenities - #PAP's Lee Hsien Loong highlights upcoming plans for Aljunied GRC. #GE2015
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 4, 2015

As for changes in Aljunied GRC itself, the Defu industrial estate will be developed into "a modern, green, beautiful industrial park" where residents can jog and enjoy the scenery.

The Downtown Line 3 is being constructed and will open in two years, with four stations - Bedok Reservoir, Bedok North, Kaki Bukit and Ubi - to be located there.

Sungei Pinang, a canal located at Hougang Avenue 10, will also be beautified and the amenities there improved under the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme.

"It's going to be much more convenient for Aljunied GRC residents to commute, to go to work," he said.

Our heartfelt THANKS to all those who came to attend our Rally! We hope that you have enjoyed yourselves. Please have a...
Posted by Aljunied GRC on Friday, September 4, 2015

How voters choose MPs will shape Government: PM
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 5 Sep 2015

Urging residents to give his People's Action Party (PAP) candidates in opposition-held wards a chance at the upcoming polls, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a rally yesterday that his team is better than the incumbents.

Referring to the slate for Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC, Mr Lee said in Mandarin: "I hope that everyone gives them a chance because they are not just six people. They have the entire party supporting them whole-heartedly."

He added that MPs not only take care of municipal issues but that those belonging to the dominant party also form the Government.

"So when you choose a party, you are also choosing the Government that runs your country," he said, emphasising a point he made at a party rally last Saturday.

One of his party's Aljunied GRC's candidates, Mr K. Muralidharan Pillai, said the team had been rejected, intimidated and scolded by some residents, but were not deterred from serving them.

That is because he knows many of them need help and he wants to send a signal that he is prepared to help them, he added.

The constituency was the first group representation constituency to fall into opposition hands, when the Workers' Party (WP) got 54.7 per cent of the vote share in 2011.

People's Action Party's Murali Pillai on his rough start in Paya Lebar: "I have been greeted or maybe scolded with a lot of words. I don't think I can hazard repeating them here ... Some of the more civilised words: 'You are stupid.'" #GE2015LIVE UPDATES: LIVE:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Friday, September 4, 2015

Mr Pillai cited examples of a man staying in a rental flat who refused to accept rice from him because he was from the PAP, and of residents who used vulgarities on him when he first became branch chairman of the Paya Lebar ward in 2012. "Am I affected? Yes. I'm a human being," he said. "But am I deterred? No... I rolled up my sleeves and tried my best to regain the trust of these people," he said.

To that end, his team implemented several social programmes - self-funded and not from the Government, he said - for residents.

The experience has humbled him and made him better at listening, and the interaction with residents has improved.

"I must give full credit to Aljunied GRC residents - they know when a person is sincere, they know when a person is trustworthy, they also know when a person is a wayang (Malay for 'putting on a show') king," he said.

His teammate Victor Lye said the loss of Aljunied GRC in 2011 also meant that residents lost "a very good PAP team led by an exceptional man" - former foreign minister George Yeo.

Another teammate, former grassroots leader in Kaki Bukit ward Shamsul Kamar, added that he saw how the estate has deteriorated ever since the WP took over, and that many residents had told him their needs were not being addressed.

He gave the assurance that his team has a plan for the constituency, which is why he wants the residents to "think hard" about what has happened since 2011, and come Polling Day, decide on whether it is time for a change. "Ask yourself the hard questions and consider the hard truths. What will you give (the WP) now? Nothing!" he said to cheers from the crowd.

Meanwhile, his colleague Chua Eng Leong said he would look at the concerns of three groups of residents if elected: more childcare services for young working parents; more enrichment programmes for young students; and more eldercare services to support caregivers in the constituency.

Rounding up the slate is four-term MP Yeo Guat Kwang, who also has three priorities if elected: "Jobs, jobs, jobs."

Mr Lee Hong Chuang, the candidate for the single-seat ward of Hougang, a WP stronghold, also spoke at the rally. He urged residents there to "get a clean start".

"Don't procrastinate. We need to develop Hougang... Make it even better," he said in Mandarin.

PAP Govt plans ahead for changes: Boon Heng
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 5 Sep 2015

Former labour chief Lim Boon Heng cautioned yesterday that jobs are changing quickly under the pressure of technology, and Singapore needs a forward-looking government to prepare the workforce.

Speaking at a People's Action Party (PAP) rally in Aljunied GRC, the former party chairman said these pressing challenges were not discussed by other political parties.

From retailers to taxi drivers, there are groups already affected by technological developments, he said, such as the rise of online shopping and the use of third-party apps like Uber and GrabTaxi.

Singapore's external environment is also changing rapidly.

"In the past, Chinese people (would) come and learn from Singapore. Now we have to go to China to learn what is happening, how it will impact on us, how it will impact on the jobs that we have," he said.

Mr Lim, who has been advising the PAP in the opposition territory for the past few years, asked Aljunied voters to return the ruling party's candidates to Parliament to shore up the Government.

"If you return the PAP candidates, PM has five more to choose from for his Cabinet, after they have proven themselves," he said.

Mr Lim noted that the PAP Government has a proven track record in finding solutions to external pressures. For example, Newater was invented to stem the Republic's reliance on Malaysia for water, he said, adding that PAP leaders have always been dedicated to Singaporeans.

"The grey hair that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had, the grey hair that Mr Goh Chok Tong has, the grey hair that Mr Lee Hsien Loong has today are all for you," he said.

He asked the rally audience to take a picture of young ministerial- calibre candidates today, and contrast it to their appearance five years hence, after joining the Cabinet.

"A lot of white hair, worrying for you," he predicted.

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