My Place MP: Murali Pillai transforms Fuji Hill Park alongside his Bukit Batok community

01/12/2023

My Place MP (MPMP) showcases how our Party MPs have made their wards more livable places for residents. So the revamped Fuji Hill Park (locals prefer calling it that over its official name of “Bukit Batok Neighbourhood Park”) naturally came up as one of the places to talk about as our coverage turns westwards. It is now a proud landmark in Bukit Batok, Our Home (武吉巴督,我们的家园), a town known for being green and lush all round.

For a start, sunsets and sunrises are more splendid when you view them from the observation decks at Fuji Hill Park’s summit; perhaps after a solo keep-fit jog, or as part of quality time out with Ah Kong, Ah Ma and the little ones. From that vantage, Bukit Batok Central basks in a golden light with its community temple, flats and lush foliage – a picturesque example of a quaint community in nature.

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Source: Murali Pillai / Facebook

“The idea was to preserve the natural landscape. So we cut nothing down. Now you can walk and feel that you are in mid-air and enjoy all the greenery around you,” shares ward MP Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok SMC) about leading Fuji Hill Park’s year-plus redevelopment.

The Park has become a favourite point for residents since it reopened. According to MP Murali, it was looking “a little bit tired” previously and not many people went there.  Now, it is a favourite spot to gather the community. The Mooncake Festival celebrations, for example, were held there recently, with a dragon dance procession going up and down the hill, gleeful lantern-carrying children in tow.

For MP Murali, who has served Bukit Batok residents since 2016 (and since 2000 as a volunteer), this livelier Fuji Hill also reflects one of his other motivations for Bukit Batok: having the ability to translate his residents’ feedback into real changes in the community.

Ah Mu listens

In fact, the boardwalks and observation decks which make Fuji Hill Park unique were the result of a team of residents and community leaders coming up with a sustainability-conscious design specially for the revamped park.

The Park’s signature multi-coloured two-storey tall kiddy slide is a concept that also came from a resident’s feedback.

“It’s a response to a parent who felt that we were mollycoddling our children and that we should have more adventurous playgrounds. So we said ‘Okay, let’s do our part.’. So we came up with this two-storey slide because we made use of the natural height of Fuji Hill,” says MP Murali.  

It is this listening closely to feedback, weighing it, and taking it to implementation that have won his residents over. The Bukit Batok locals affectionately call him “Ah Mu”. They know that Ah Mu knocks on doors around their ward weekly and for years has spent his Friday nights down at the branch office meeting and helping them.

Ah Mu’s there for Bukit Batok residents
– Set up a Healthcare Task Force which partners medical providers to conduct health screenings for Bukit Batok residents, and even supplies hospital beds to their homes.

– Has a Green Ribbon Task Force which focuses on mental wellness. Did you see their purple lights for autism awareness along Bukit Batok recently?

– His Community Job Placement Task Force links residents with prospective employers. 

– Held the Government to account in Parliament for relocating Bukit View Primary School.

– Asked the Government for an update on when Bukit Batok Hawker Centre will begin construction.

“Each and every of these causes, it’s really risen from conversations that I’ve had with residents,” says MP Murali, who knows from his decades on the ground that everybody deserves a listening ear. 

A place to build the bonds of community

So it is all these tackling root causes and building needed ecosystems of help which have helped make MP Murali’s mark for Bukit Batok residents during his years in the ward.  

Which of these works is he the most proud of, though?

He pauses at this, and thinks a bit.

“I wouldn’t want to say I’m proud at the end of the day. Big or small things, as long as they make an impact in terms of making the community a warmer community, making the environment a more liveable space — all these things I draw some encouragement from,” he responds.

Source: Murali Pillai / Facebook

It’s important, he adds, that people in Bukit Batok keep having those bonds of community around them, and keep going out of his or her way to look out for and take care of each other. If Ah Mu’s revamped Fuji Hill Park is any indication, with how residents of all ages now use it as a place to gather and connect with each other, and where Bukit Batok’s children are building happy formative memories, that community spirit is growing strong.