“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.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong assured people of this last Sunday (Mar 26) at the groundbreaking event for Chong Pang City’s new integrated town centre in Nee Soon.
“In Singapore, we strive very hard to make all our new towns, all our HDB towns highly liveable,” said PM Lee.
“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,” he added.
This is no matter where in Singapore you call home.
Chong Pang’s kampong-to-city development since the 1980s is in fact just one example of the PAP’s commitment to long-term livability.
The 1970s and before: “A very ulu area”
“One hundred 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,” said PM Lee.
“Even until the 1970s, Chong Pang was still a rural and remote part of Singapore,” continued PM Lee.
“And all around there were old rubber plantations which are not kept 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.”
The 1980s: Nee Soon New Town
This ulu area was urbanised in the 1980s.
The cause? The PAP Government’s grand project of building New Towns across Singapore.
As the newspapers from the era reported (Feb 1, 1985), Chong Pang would no longer be a village of zinc-roofed houses, but “a spanking new Housing Board estate the size of Clementi new town”.
“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,” noted PM Lee.
“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.”
2027: An integrated community hub
Of course, it was slightly challenging to persuade people to move to Nee Soon at the beginning since there were more developed towns in Bishan and Ang Mo Kio, according to PM Lee.
“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, Nee Soon is a vibrant, family-friendly place today; people now want flats in it.
The upgraded Chong Pang City will boost this even more.
A 9,800 square metre major integrated development will have Olympic-sized swimming pools, a gym and over 180 market and food stalls — excellent for residents all over Nee Soon and northern Singapore come 2027.
That’s not bad by any urban development standard; even by Singapore’s world-class urban ones.
This is because the PAP-Government not only develops new estates, it rejuvenates existing ones as well. And as the 4G leadership has promised, building better homes for all is a long-term project commitment.
“Our public housing system works, and I think Singaporeans know that,” said PM Lee.
“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.”
Images: NAS, Chong Pang Integrated Development