Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at 5th Anniversary of Heartbeat@Bedok on 4 February 2023.
My fellow grassroots advisers,
Residents, volunteers, and friends of East Coast, a very good evening to all of you!
Let me begin by wishing everyone a happy Lunar New Year!
I am delighted to be here to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Heartbeat @ Bedok.
This is a beautiful and well-located building, with excellent amenities and facilities that cater to everyone.
What matters even more is the “heartbeat” that brings buildings and spaces to life. This comes from people, and what they choose to do within the space.
Kiat How and his team have worked hard to give a strong “heartbeat” to this place, through the numerous activities and programmes that they have put together year-round.
From seniors learning digital skills, to creative workshops for families, and our youth bonding over e-sports, there is something for everyone.
Kiat How has also given you a sneak preview of the exciting programmes that we can look forward to.
These are what make Heartbeat @ Bedok a lively and vibrant hub, not just for Kampong Chai Chee, but the broader East Coast community.
Congratulations to Kiat How and his team, well done!
Across East Coast, we have many initiatives and programmes that cater to the needs and interests of our residents.
Many of these are ground-up ideas. Others are developed by agencies and Advisers in collaboration with residents, to address local requirements.
These initiatives bring opportunities for people to share their passions, look out for their neighbours, and grow the community.
Together, these form the “East Coast heartbeat”, and bring East Coast to life. Let me elaborate.
East Coast Heartbeat
The first thing that comes to mind when it comes to the “East Coast heartbeat” is our strong kampong spirit, and the way we care for one another.
The past few years have been challenging for all of us – we had to confront COVID-19, and are now dealing with high inflation.
We supported one another through these challenges, from volunteers distributing masks, to befrienders checking in on our seniors.
With the current economic situation, we are looking out for residents who may require additional support, and finding ways to ease their burden.
For example, here in Kampong Chai Chee, Kiat How and his team will be giving out grocery vouchers to families who are hard hit.
These local efforts complement the comprehensive set of national measures that have been rolled out so far, including three tranches of CDC vouchers, which have been very well received.
Another group that we need to pay particular attention to is our seniors.
Today, 40% of East Coast residents are above 50 years old. The East Coast Silver Blueprint sets out how we are better caring for our seniors.
Besides seniors, their caregivers also need support, and we are piloting a Caregivers Programme at Fengshan.
We want to empower more seniors to take charge of their health, so that they can enjoy their silver years.
Come April, we will partner Singhealth, Changi General Hospital, SportsSG, HPB and local clinics to roll out the Health Up! programme across East Coast.
Seniors who sign up for Health Up! will receive personalised health action plans, which include health screening recommendations and healthy living activities they can participate in.
By bringing agencies, partners and volunteers together, we give seniors and their families all the support and encouragement that they need.
The second distinctive feature of the “East Coast heartbeat” is our can-do spirit – where we step forward to contribute and make a difference.
Our founding father S Rajaratnam once said that we must build a “democracy of deeds, and not of words”.
This is how we are approaching community building here in East Coast.
Through our East Coast Conversations, we gathered residents’ hopes and aspirations. We distilled the issues that matter to us collectively and developed plans to address them.
Over the past two years, we have put these plans and initiatives into action, to build a more caring, green and vibrant East Coast.
This “can-do” spirit is best characterised by the many instances of residents who step forward to share their passions and build our community.
The residents of Jalan Pelatok wanted to beautify their neighbourhood, so they worked with partners to design and build the Art Farm @ Jalan Pelatok Park from scratch.
In Siglap, residents who are passionate about the environment, sew bags that are upcycled from clothing. These upcycled bags are then sold to raise funds for low-income families.
There is also Uncle Sim, who built a beautiful mural in Bedok with bottle caps. His heartfelt effort mobilised residents from East Coast and beyond to donate more bottle caps.
Uncle Sim now has enough bottle caps and is planning his next project!
It is these actions, big and small, that make East Coast more beautiful and endearing.
Put together, this “can-do kampung spirit” gives life to East Coast. The energy and conviction of our residents make up the East Coast heartbeat.
Through partnerships and programmes, we give expression to the East Coast heartbeat, and amplify the impact of ground-up initiatives.
We have, in particular, created opportunities for young residents to grow and serve within the community, such as Heartware Network’s Sustainable Youth Leadership Development Programme and the East Coast Community Internship programme.
These are the concrete steps that we are taking together towards a more caring, green and vibrant East Coast.
Let me conclude.
As we celebrate a milestone for Heartbeat @ Bedok this evening, it is timely to reflect on the “heartbeat” that brings East Coast to life.
It is a heartbeat that is defined by our people’s “can-do kampong spirit”. It is expressed in the way we lean forward to care for one another, and work together to turn ideas and passions, into tangible initiatives for our community.
This is an ongoing journey, and there is much more that we can do together. I encourage everyone to join in this effort, and there are many ways to do so.
You can participate in existing activities, sign up as a Community Volunteer, or even start your own initiative. Every bit counts, and every action matters.
Collectively, we strengthen the East Coast heartbeat, and build a more caring, green and vibrant East Coast that we are proud to call home.
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