Speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the opening of Woodlands Galaxy CC

11 May 2013

Ms Ellen Lee
Adviser to Woodlands GROs and MP for Sembawang GRC

Mr Hawazi Daipi
Mr Vikram Nair
MPs for Sembawang GRC

Mr David Sim
Chairman of Woodlands CCC

Mdm Adalene Loh
Chairman of Woodlands Galaxy CCMC

Grassroots Leaders, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen

A very good evening and a very Happy Mother’s Day to all of you! I think many of you are mothers and working hard in the grassroots, and tomorrow is Mother’s Day and you are here, not all with your families, so a special thank you for being here with us today.

I am very happy to come and launch this building. It is a beautiful building, you have worked very hard, spent eight years collecting the money, raising the funds, getting the activities and ideas together, and putting this project up. And it is and will become a focal point for community bonding.

We talk often about bringing back to Singapore, the “kampong spirit”. Because we work long hours, we do not have enough time, or we wish we had more time, to spend with our family, with our neighbours, to develop bonds with the people who are important to us. And we feel that we would like to know our neighbours better, we would like to be able to see our children grow up, to spend time with our parents when our parents are old.

One way to do this, and to work together, is through the CC. It can help us to revive the “kampong spirit”, because then you can unwind with family, friends, and neighbours after a hard day’s work. You can also build friendships and bonds with Singaporeans of different races and religions and strengthen our racial harmony.

But to make this “kampong spirit”, which is maybe what Sembawang used to be thirty, forty, fifty years ago, you need new facilities in today’s Singapore. If the CC today is like the CC used to be forty, fifty years ago, with one television set outside, black and white, one ping pong table and maybe half a basketball court, I do not think you will have anybody come - not even the grassroots leaders would want to come. But with a modern CC, with good facilities, with good activities, with air-con even in the hall, and all the “mod-cons”, all the modern conveniences, then I think, you can get many activities. Just now I saw some of the things that you were doing – your New Media group, your young people group, your Active Ageing group, the Ladies Gym group. All these activities, different, each one of them, but they come together and create that sense of neighbourliness, friendship and “kampong spirit”.

We will work hard to make sure our CCs stay up to scratch. Woodlands Gaalxy CC, I asked the Adviser Ellen just now, how big is this? She said, 4,500 square feet. I said, wow, looks bigger than mine. Because mine is thirty years old, been upgraded one or two times, but almost due for upgrading, but we have got better facilities but we have got unusual things. Like here, you have an Astronomy Club, you have a telescope, an observatory. Today is a little bit cloudy, but on good days, I think it is something unusual to bring the young people in, and to enthuse them, to go and do something which they are passionate about.

So, I think the facilities are important, but the activities are also important. You have all sorts of things - you have brisk-walk, you have Dance-Fit, you have qigong - for all ages, all groups, all segments of your residents. I saw your New Media group and your IT group just now. You have an application, where when the residents come to participate, they just type in their I/C number, and straight away you have a breakdown of how many young ones, old ones, men and women, each of the zones, where they are staying. Therefore we know how we can reach out, to bring in more people, in order to be part of this big family, and that is good.

Also important in building this spirit is to have something which you are passionate about and working for. I talked about the telescope, and the enthusiasts for Astronomy, but we also have young people who are passionate about conservation, about the environment. They have developed an “Eco iPledge” application which can be used to take pictures at “Eco iPledge” stations around the CC and in the neighbourhood. You have a picture and a little pledge at the bottom, and you remind yourself that this is something you would like to do, and encourage your friends to do. I look forward to launching it later, and I hope many residents will help us to keep Woodlands clean and green.

So, make this your own. Many of you are grassroots leaders, but bring in your residents, encourage them to make use of this facility, organise the activities, and make this one of the exceptional, outstanding CCs in Singapore. Finally, I would like to congratulate Ms Ellen Lee, the Management and Building Fund Committees, the grassroots leaders and all the residents on what you have done here. Well done, keep it up! Now the building is ready, the work begins.

Thank you very much!