DPM Lawrence Wong at Kaki Bukit 40th Anniversary

PM Lawrence Wong | 19 March 2023

Opening remarks by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at Kaki Bukit Constituency’s 40th anniversary celebrations on 19 March 2023.


Grassroots Adviser Mr Shamsul Kamar
Grassroots Advisers from Aljunied GRC
Our former Member of Parliament, Mr Chew Heng Ching
Special Adviser to People’s Association, Mr Lim Boon Heng
Chief Executive Director of People’s Association
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Selamat Pagi, Vanakkam, 各位居民朋友们,大家早上好。

Let me say a few words in Chinese first. 很高兴今天早上能够参加这个Kaki Bukit 40周年的活动。我看今天早上也是特别有意思。因为这三年,由于疫情的影响,没有机会欢聚一堂举行这么大型的活动。而在这个三年里也要特别感谢大家的合作和配合,一起跟政府对抗疫情才争取到今天的成绩。谢谢你们。

It is very good to see such a big event here in Kaki Bukit and I am delighted to have a chance to join all of you for this very meaningful 40th Anniversary. I think it's extra special, because we have not had the chance to come together in such a large scale for the last three years because of COVID-19. And in these last three years, everyone here, all of you, have worked hard to cooperate with the government, making your own sacrifices in order to stay safe and get us through COVID-19. So I just want to start by thanking everyone for your hard work and for your cooperation. And today we are in Dorscon Green. We are able to gather together. Some of you still wear masks. It's okay if we want to wear masks, as long as we are able to gather safely and meet together. So thank you for your cooperation and hard work. Thank you very much.

As Mr Shamsul said just now, many of you are pioneers of Kaki Bukit and have been living in the estate since the estate was formed in 1980. Kaki Bukit has had a rich history that all of you can be proud of. Many came from the kampungs near the Jalan Eunos Malay Settlement. As you saw in the video just now, you changed from “kampung boy” to become “flat boy”. Dari budak kampung jadi budak HDB. They resettled here in this estate and built the caring and vibrant community that we have in this HDB estate.

You also saw from the pictures just now in the video all the old photos of the past life in Kaki Bukit.

You have a local Sheng Siong at Blk 539A, providing residents with daily essentials since 1988. It was one of the first Sheng Siong supermarket there and in fact they used the name “Shing Song” as you saw, different from the usual Sheng Siong. So the Shing Song is quite special and it retains that name even today. You have the hawker centre and Market at Blk 511 and 538 still here, continuing to serve not only the Kaki Bukit residents but the residents outside of the area as well.

I actually have some impression of this place too when I was growing up in the 1980s. I didn’t live in Bedok. But my mother’s family also came from a Malay Kampung, Kampong Amber. Then they moved out of Kampong Amber, everyone in the family resettled and moved to areas in the East. So my parents moved to a HDB flat in Marine Parade. This was in the 70s and when I was growing up later in the 80s, some of you would know there are only two focal points to hang out if you are living in Marine Parade. One was Parkway Parade in the 80s, where the Marine Parade Town Centre was together with the hawker centre and the library. The other focal point was Bedok interchange. In fact, if you wanted to take a bus to town from Marine Parade, you had to go through the Bedok interchange to take bus 31, and on your way back you would come back through Bedok interchange. So Bedok interchange was also a focal point. There was a cinema there. You didn't have (something similar to) a Parkway Parade but you also had neighbourhood shops, you had a hawker centre, and there was also a swimming centre nearby. So those were the only two areas to hang out. And if you go to the Bedok interchange and you walk a little bit further north, then you will come here to Kaki Bukit. There is a hawker centre at Blk 511. There were quite a number of popular stores. I think the Bak Chor Mee used to be very good. I don't know whether it's still around. So my family would sometimes explore further north and come to the hawker centre here. And so that was my impression of Kaki Bukit as a young boy in the 80s and then later in the 90s. A very small, but vibrant community.

Of course you have the Community Centre right here. Back in the early days, it was just a centre at one of the void decks. But in 1985, a bigger CC was built so you can continue to have more activities and events and now, it is being upgraded. Is almost going to be completed. This is the updated part of the CC. It looks wonderful. Better than my own CC in my constituency and I am sure when it is completed, there would be even more amenities for all residents to enjoy.

Later on today, we will be launching a coffee table book to commemorate the history and experiences of Kaki Bukit these last 40 years. I am sure it will invoke many fond memories amongst all of you.

As we look back over these past four decades, we can see how Kaki Bukit has evolved, alongside the development of Singapore. Generations of families have raised your families here. We can see more older residents in the estate, having grown up here, having raised families here for the last 30, 40 years together with some newer faces too. At the same time the government has continued to upgrade and refresh the housing estate, as we do for all HDB estates across Singapore. We have improved the connectivity of Kaki Bukit with opening of the Downtown Line.

We have upgraded Kaki Bukit’s neighbourhood centres together with the nearby Bedok Town Centre. We now have a dedicated walking and cycling path to connect Bedok Reservoir to Bedok Town Centre and East Coast Park. And we have silver zones to make roads safer for older pedestrians. The improvements are taking place not just in the neighbourhood, but also in your homes because we have completed HIP programme for all the older blocks in Kaki Bukit. I understand that all the eligible flats in Kaki Bukit have already been upgraded because Kaki Bukit was built in 1980s, so all the flats would be more than 30 years old. You already have your HIP, but that is HIP round 1. But HIP round 2, akan dating; it will come eventually.

Looking ahead, there will continue to be exciting developments in Kaki Bukit. As we mentioned the upgraded Community Centre will be opening later this year. The team has been working hard to not only upgrade the infrastructure but to upgrade the programmes to meet your changing needs. So you will have many new facilities like the Jamming Studio and new services like the AIC office (Agency of Integrated Care Office) and the JobHub, and I am sure the upgraded CC will remain an important focal point for everyone in the community. We have also announced plans for a new integrated hospital in the area, it will have a General Hospital and Community Hospital to be ready by 2030. I am sure many residents living in this neighbourhood will find it more convenient to have a new hospital nearby so it would be more accessible. And in the longer term, we will have many more new developments coming up in the area. Why? Because remember, we are moving out Paya Lebar airbase from its present location somewhere in the 2030s or beyond. And when Paya Lebar airbase has moved out, the height restrictions will be lifted. So we will have an opportunity to redevelop the surrounding towns including in Kaki Bukit to make better use of space and build even more convenient facilities and amenities for residents. So there is a lot more we can do to make Kaki Bukit an even better home for all of you.

Through it all, what should not change and cannot change is that strong sense of community spirit that all the residents brought with them from the kampungs. We can see this from the many residents here today to celebrate this occasion. Kaki Bukit may be a small constituency, but it is big hearted. That must continue for many more years. So we are very grateful to all our activists and volunteers as well as the many residents for all the work that you do to strengthen this kampung spirit. How you organise the activities and programmes, help vulnerable households and continue to gather feedback on the ground so that the government can fine tune and improve our programmes. For example, in the last three years of COVID, many of you have stepped forward to distribute masks and hand sanitisers. Many also did their part to help your friends and neighbours during this difficult times. This gotong-royong spirit is what makes Kaki Bukit community strong and special.

Today you don’t stay in kampongs anymore. We all stay in HDB flats. Our flats and living standards have improved. But it’s this ability to connect to one another that makes HDB an endearing home.

So let us all do our part to nurture this strong community spirit. Especially right here in Kaki Bukit. Our Grassroots and community leaders play a part. So we thank them for all their hard work these years. Let's give them a round of applause to acknowledge all our grassroots leaders. Thank you very much. Let’s continue to see how we can have more effective programmes to engage our residents and to meet their needs. Like right now, when people are feeling the impact of cost of living, I know that the grassroots leaders, grassroots organisations and community organisations has been working hard to distribute grocery packs, as well as other initiatives to help residents cope with higher prices. As our residents get older, we should also make a special effort to engage them, especially those who are living on their own or who are more vulnerable. We know that many seniors prefer to age in place rather than in a nursing home and that's good. You prefer the convenience of your own home. But the big challenge is social isolation – where you stay at home for the whole day watching TV. When that happens, then health deteriorates very quickly. So we need to step up our efforts to engage our seniors, help them socialise more, help them to engage in more physical activities that can help delay or even prevent frailty and deterioration. And all of these community efforts will complement our national programmes so that no needs will go unmet, and no one who needs help will fall through the cracks.

So I just want to conclude by encouraging all our Kaki Bukit residents to come forward, work with us, work the grassroots, work with the community to build an even better Kaki Bukit for the future. Continue to share with us your views on what more you would like to see Kaki Bukit. Work with us so that we can together, realise our shared aspirations for this community. With the strong support from all of you in Kaki Bukit, I am confident that Kaki Bukit will continue to be a strong, vibrant and caring community for many more decades to come.

On that note, thank you for having me here and I wish everyone in Kaki Bukit a Happy 40th Birthday! Thank you very much.