DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Fengshan Community Club Re-opening

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 2 April 2022

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Fengshan Community Club Re-opening on 2 April 2022.


Mr Edwin Tong, 
Deputy Chairman, People’s Association 

Mr Lim Hock Yu, 
Chief Executive Director, PA 

My fellow Grassroots Advisers

Grassroots Leaders, Community Partners, and Donors

A very good morning to all of you. I am very happy to join you for the re-opening of Fengshan CC. Like other construction projects, the upgrading of Fengshan CC was disrupted by COVID-19. What was initially envisaged as a one-and-a-half-year project took twice as long to complete. But we are finally here today!

Cheryl has been updating me and our fellow advisors on how our grassroot leaders and volunteers have been working tirelessly on this upgrading project.  

I also thank our residents. Those of you staying around Fengshan CC have been putting up with the inconvenience, and all our users have been making do with temporary facilities over a prolonged period.

Please join me in expressing our appreciation to Cheryl and her team, and to all our residents for your understanding and support! 

Since Independence, community centres have played a very important role in our nation building. I remember vividly the community centre near my house during my childhood years – it was a simple structure with an outdoor black-and-white television. 

That television brought our entire kampong together. Indeed, in the early years, though the infrastructure was basic, community centres served as common spaces for residents from all walks of life, of different races and religion, to come together. They were places to hold celebratory events – such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, and Deepavali – where we celebrated one another’s culture 
regardless of race and religion. Community centres was where you get to know more neighbours, make new friends, play a sport, or learn new skills. 

As we grew as a society, we upgraded our community centres. We retrofitted existing spaces and added new facilities, including at Fengshan. We introduced a wider range of activities, including more programmes for seniors as our population ages. 

In the digital age, community centres continue to evolve to meet new needs. Many residents are already interacting online. Whatsapp groups are now quite common among new BTO homeowners living in the same block. Many interest groups are organising online. When COVID 19 hit, even more activities shifted online. To continue reaching out to our residents, my fellow advisors have also gone digital, including holding many East Coast Conversations online. 

But however useful online touchpoints are, they cannot fully replace physical interactions. During the crisis, community centres also became important physical nodes – for residents to get their vaccination shots, collect your Trace Together tokens as well as reuseable masks and ART test kits. I am also very glad to see seniors coming to community centres to learn how to use a smart phone and to communicate digitally. With the easing of safe management measures, many of you are looking forward to meeting your friends and neighbours face-to-face, including at our community centres. Before the pandemic, some residents had never set foot in their community centres. But having now done so, they are keen to explore what their community centres have to offer when COVID-19 recedes. So even as our society become more digital, our community centres will continue to serve as important physical connectors for our people. As we gradually resume normalcy, we are particularly glad to re-open Fengshan CC at this juncture.  

Community centres are ultimately about the community. I am very glad to learn from Cheryl that many Fengshan grassroots leaders and residents actively co-created this upgraded community space. I also thank the many donors who made the upgrading works possible. In particular, I would like to thank Albert Chin, Adeline Leong, and Lim Chin Boon, who each donated $100,000 or more. In addition to sprucing up existing facilities, we also added more than 12,000 square feet of facilities. Cheryl will be elaborating more later in her speech. 

The co-creation of Fengshan CC is one example of the broader effort that Cheryl and our fellow advisors have been working on – to involve more residents in creating a more vibrant, caring, and greener East Coast.  Many of you would be familiar with the East Coast Plan. But let me briefly touch on each of the three pillars. To build a vibrant East Coast, we launched the East Coast Vibrant Community Footprints launched last year. This effort seeks to improve living and common spaces, engender innovation, create new jobs, and help us keep pace with digital in daily living. The East Coast Conversations also enable residents to engage my team and I on issues that are close to their hearts.  Our efforts to build a more caring East coast  includes the East Coast Silver Blueprint to better support our seniors and caregivers. 

We also started the East Coast Mobile TCM to bring heavily subsidised TCM services closer to the homes of our residents. On a greener East Coast, we launched the East Coast Sustainability and Green Plan, which includes additional community gardens, quarterly tree planting, biodiversity watch and habitat enhancement. More than 100 residents have also signed up as East Coast Residents Green Ambassadors. This is just the beginning. There will be many upcoming opportunities for all of us to work together to build a more vibrant, more caring, and greener East Coast. I thank all those who are already actively taking part, and encourage the rest to step forward. You can contribute your time and expertise, reach out to mobilise others, or donate monies and resources. 

Let me conclude by coming back to the upgraded Fengshan CC. I am privileged to be one of the first users of the upgraded facilities. I will be joining the Parent-Child team cooking competition at the Culinary Studio after this. I don’t usually cook. But I hope to pick up a tip or two at the session. And I too hope that you too can learn something new, gain some inspiration, or get to know another neighbour when you visit Fengshan CC. Let me now invite Cheryl to share more about the upgraded CC and the journey that got us here.

Thank you.