Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke at the Groundbreaking Ceremony of Chong Pang City on 26 March 2023.
Grassroot Adviser Minister K Shanmugam
Nee Soon GRC Grassroots Advisers who are here today
Mr Teo Choon Hock, Honorary Chairman of Chong Pang CCC
Mr Lim Chin Keong, Chairman of Chong Pang CCC, and most importantly, Chairman of the fundraising committee for this project
Residents, Ladies and GentlemenA very good morning to all of you. And also a very good morning to all the residents who are at the different sites all over Nee Soon including Nee Soon South, Nee Soon Central, Nee Soon East, and in the Amphitheatre — I am happy that you are able to join us and enjoy the fun and the vibrance of this morning. I am glad to be here today for the ground-breaking ceremony for Chong Pang City.
Chong Pang’s Development Through the Years
Chong Pang has changed enormously over the years. I have seen some of these changes — not all of it, but some of it. 100 years ago, before my time, this was a very small kampong, maybe 100 households, in the jungles, in the middle of a very ulu area. Even until the 1970s, Chong Pang was still a rural and remote part of Singapore. And all around there were old rubber plantations which are not tapped anymore but still standing, and the SAF would use the areas for training, and I would come here and do training exercises, and after our evening, night training, sometimes we would come here in mufti for night snacks at the hawker centre. But that was before we redeveloped Chong Pang village into Nee Soon New Town.
In 1980s, as we built new townships and HDB flats all over the island, we started to develop Nee Soon New Town, including here in Chong Pang. And it meant that the residents and the shopkeepers had to be relocated from the kampongs at Chong Pang Village to HDB flats, and many of them moved into Nee Soon to live here. But we took care to preserve some of the kampong spirit from the old village: HDB created the first Chong Pang City, which was the first neighbourhood centre in Yishun Town; and PA replaced the old kampong-style CC with a modern Chong Pang Community Centre, for which Dr Koh Lip Lin and grassroot leaders worked very hard to raise money and to make the project successful, as you heard from Minister Shanmugam just now. So, because of that, the residents continued to enjoy shared community spaces, and more activities and programmes that met their needs and interests.
At that time, it was not so easy to persuade people to move into Nee Soon New Town. I know, because I was a new MP in Ang Mo Kio and Teck Ghee. And most families much preferred to go to Bishan or to Ang Mo Kio, because they were more developed, more amenities, and closer to town. So, very often as an MP, when the young residents came to see me to ask to change their flat — they do not want to go to Nee Soon, they want to go to Ang Mo Kio — I would have to persuade them, and explain to them that “Today, Nee Soon is a new, growing estate. But in a few years’ time, its neighbourhoods will be just as attractive, just as vibrant as Ang Mo Kio and Bishan. So please go to Nee Soon and enjoy your new flat there”. And indeed, today, Nee Soon is a vibrant and thriving family-friendly place, full range of facilities and programmes. And the residents are very happy to live here, and I think now, Nee Soon MPs get many requests for more next generation residents who want to buy their new flats in Nee Soon, and I think a few new flats will be coming, if you listen to the Minister for National Development.
The new Chong Pang City is part of the Government’s efforts to continually rejuvenate these areas. When it is completed in 2027, it will add freshness and vibrancy to the neighbourhood. And as you heard just now from Minister Shanmugam, there will be community, social, and leisure activities all put together in one convenient location, with programmes to promote active lifestyles and enhance interaction amongst residents of all ages and all walks of life, not just for those living in Chong Pang, but all over Nee Soon and in the northern part of Singapore. It is a major project, and I thank the residents for sharing your ideas and providing feedback on what you would like to see. I also thank the MPs, the grassroots leaders, the volunteers and the government agencies involved who have worked very hard to pull this together and make the new Chong Pang City a reality.
Our HDB towns
This is just one example, Chong Pang City, of what we are doing all over Singapore. We are building HDB estates, but not just houses, but also up-to-date amenities to meet the modern living needs of residents. We are progressively redeveloping the older precincts to refresh the living environment with new homes and new amenities and infrastructure. And we want every one of our HDB towns, new or old, to be of high quality.
Most cities find this very difficult to achieve. If you go to most cities, you will see that some areas are very nice, that is where the tour guide will take you, but there will be other areas which you may not see as a tourist — neighbourhoods left behind without much amenities, dilapidated or run down, or inconvenient to live in because it is a long journey to commute to work or to school.
In Singapore, we strive very hard to make all our new towns, all our HDB towns highly liveable. PM Lee Hsien Loong
In Singapore, we strive very hard to make all our new towns, all our HDB towns highly liveable.
PM Lee Hsien Loong
But in Singapore, we strive very hard to make all our new towns, all our HDB towns highly liveable. For one reason or other, there will be some which will still be more popular than others. I think that is just the way things are, it cannot be helped. But whether the town is very popular or very very popular, every town and HDB, every estate you live in, you can be assured that it is well-planned, well-appointed, well maintained: with amenities, schools, clinics, hawker centres, kopitiams, sport facilities, good transport connectivity, not just within the town with shuttle bus services, but expressways, MRT lines to the rest of Singapore. And it will be a good place to live in, and your property values will reflect that.
This is the PAP government’s promise to all Singaporeans: that your HDB flat will be both a good home for you and your family, and a valuable nest egg for your retirement.
Our public housing system works, and I think Singaporeans know that. With your support, we will continue to keep this system running well, and we will deliver on our promise to Singaporeans for many more years to come.
Now let me say a few words in Mandarin.
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