My Place MP: Cheryl Chan keeps Fengshan connected and people-friendly


“When you come to Fengshan, you must have your bak chor mee. And your vegetarian bee hoon,” enthuses MP Cheryl Chan about the famous Block 85 Market in her ward. 

It is a breakfast/ lunch/ dinner/ anytime makan recommendation from MP Chan’s decades of serving in Fengshan. She lived here for twelve years before becoming an MP, spending most of this time volunteering for seniors and the underprivileged in the community — she’s long believed in stepping forward to make a concrete difference for those around her.    

She has been Fengshan’s MP for almost ten years, adding and rejuvenating infrastructure to make Fengshan more liveable for locals.   

“My team and I want to make this a caring and vibrant East Coast. So our actions have to be true to that,” she says when interviews her for My Place MP early one weekday morning. 

“Many things that we do are about placemaking. It’s about the people first; the hardware infrastructure is just there to bring that about,” she adds, referring to how a well-designed neighbourhood supports residents building bonds with each other.   

It is unsurprising, then, that some of her most thoughtful placemaking efforts are around the Block 85 Market — for MP Chan, more people should get to be part of this neighbourhood institution and its one-of-a-kind bounty of bak chor mee and bee hoon.  

Connecting Fengshan with the Bus 18 and the Bedok 85 lift  

MP Chan brought bus route 18 closer to Block 85, for example.  

It took her years of lobbying the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and showing that the bus re-route would make a tangible difference to Fengshan residents. Today, Bus 18 runs all the way through Bedok North Avenues 3 and 4; it does not just loop at Bedok Interchange any more.  

The market — and its food, friends and opportunities for happy memories — are a 3-minute walk away along this route. In fact, Bus 18 now moves all the way to the Tampines-Pasir Ris Interchange; anyone going to town as well as extended families around the East Coast now have an easier time too. 

“Many of these extended families also live in Tampines and Pasir Ris. So they can visit their seniors who live in the area with this new Bus 18 route,” explains MP Chan. 

Source: Cheryl Chan 

“We talk about how three generations want to live close to each other; we must provide this connectivity,” she adds. 

MP Chan’s emphasis on connectivity for different generations also shines through when she talks about the lift she got for the market’s overhead bridge. It involved getting LTA to come down and do a one-year feasibility study during peak and non-peak hours to conclude that yes, there were indeed enough Fengshan residents who would welcome the lift. 

“To be fair, this is all public taxpayers’ money. Whenever we want to build a facility, it can’t benefit just a small group of people. It must benefit the masses,” says MP Chan.  

At this, observes just who uses the lift. We see elderly aunties and uncles going for their daily grocery shop, people with disabilities (PWDs) easily wheeling through its doors, and young mums from the nearby BTOs with their hands busy holding kids and kai lan.  

True to form, then, a broad swathe of Fengshan’s residents benefit from it each day. 

“One of the things that gives way first is actually the knees; the legs. Walking 300 metres is quite something for older people on flat ground. Much more difficult after they do marketing,” muses MP Chan as another reason she lobbied for the Block 85 market lift. 

Making Fengshan a better place 

There is a lot of love and pride in MP Chan’s voice when she introduces what else now makes Fengshan a better place.  

There is her extension of the market-adjacent covered linkway; it shelters residents from nearby blocks no matter rain or shine. Her Monday Meet-the-People Sessions (MPS) now also have occasional on-site pro bono legal aid; this is thanks to a civic-minded group of lawyers who regularly volunteer to write wills for low-income and senior folk. 

All these resonate with placemaking issues close to her heart.   

“We as citizens share responsibilities in jointly building culture, heritage and vibrant living spaces that we wish our children can grow up in and our seniors can age gracefully in place,” she said in Parliament this April about making a more people-friendly Singapore city.  

Little wonder that she listens to what all sorts of Singaporeans have to say about what makes Singapore a good living environment — as well as the values behind our country’s built environment — during her national-level work as the Government Parliamentary Chair (GPC) for National Development.  

Source: Cheryl Chan / Facebook 

The result: Her policy recommendations address the real aspirations of Singaporeans. These include augmenting SERS (the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme) for older flats such as MP Chan’s residents who live in Fengshan’s mid-1970s flats. 

Her questions in Parliament address their real needs too. During the high-profile Committee of Supply proceedings in October 2021, MP Chan kept Singapore’s Government accountable regarding the promised supply and standards of upcoming BTO flats.     

MP Chan’s query had Minister for National Development Desmond Lee clarifying that yes, despite the pandemic, BTO projects remained on track, that contractors had Government help for minimising delays while keeping safety and quality and that BTO supply was increasing. 

It was an answer which MP Chan shared with her current and future residents, and which bears out her on-the-ground experience with BTO construction in Fengshan.

Source: HDB 

“I’ve got two blocks here in the 188 series; the last two blocks of this entire BTO that were built up in less than one year. The quality has never been compromised,” she tells, citing the constant Building Construction Authority checks during their construction. 

Keeping residents conveniently connected 

What impact then, with all this estate rejuvenation, is she most proud of making for Fengshan? 

“I have many that I will remember. But I must say, first and foremost, it’s about giving convenience and connectivity to the residents because of our ageing population,” says MP Chan.  

Here, her emphasis on co-creating a better Fengshan with her residents comes through once more. An elderly person using a wheelchair — or indeed anyone using a wheelchair — would need to hold an umbrella even while carrying items and pushing the chair, she points out. We need to think from this person’s perspective.  

“And therefore, when we do town audits here, we will involve people who are in wheelchairs to take part; tell us, ‘Is that even convenient for me?’,” says MP Chan.   

“We generally will find the routes that are most popular. And we will make it as seamless and as short as possible for Fengshan’s residents to commute from one location to the other,” she finishes.  

So, we take another look at the bustling Block 85 Market and all the different people of Fengshan going to and fro from it. Her placemaking efforts here, really, have made every day here better — those anytime makan recommendations are easy-to-get-to options now.