My Place MP: Ang Wei Neng is revitalising Nanyang with block-high murals

26/01/2024

“LATER MAKAN at extension kopitiam there; the girl on the swing there.” 

That’s become a familiar refrain for Nanyang’s dads, mums and the heaps of university students passing through every day. Dinner (and supper) are always great at that particular kopitiam. Plus, everyone loves that girl on the swing all over Block 966 opposite. She swept by after the latest block repaints in Nanyang and she’s pretty hard to miss.

Source: Ang Wei Neng

“We wanted to make one or two areas become landmarks where people can say ‘This belongs to Nanyang.’,” said MP Ang Wei Neng (West Coast GRC) when Petir.sg interviewed him for the latest My Place MP (MPMP), which showcases how PAP MPs make their wards better for their residents. Afterall, MP Ang successfully added this wall mural to Nanyang’s scheduled block repainting projects.  

It is a very thoughtful add. The red-brick steps leading up to the girl — and the extension kopitiam and shops too — are very well-trodden by the Nanyang community. The girl, endlessly sprinkling sayang and hearts over the people eating meals, buying groceries and just generally going about their lives around her, is definitively marking this popular spot as a place which locals can call their own. 

Making sure local neighbourhoods stay social hubs

Getting the mural painters to art up Block 966 was quick work for MP Ang. 

“The residents talked to me and said ‘Why don’t we have something interesting when we do repainting lah?’,” he recalls. So residents submitted designs and the girl on the swing won out.  

And that was that. MP Ang simply rolled up his sleeves and got to work, making calls, reviewing designs and doing all the other paperwork and consults needed to get this community-centred project started. 

“We’ll always have the murals at a place where a lot of people will pass by or gather,” he says about his plans for more public art around Nanyang.   

All this thoroughness and forward-planning for developing social hubs is a work ethic which MP Ang’s had during his decade-plus service as an MP. 

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Source: Ang Wei Neng / Facebook 

Like how the neighbourhood shops around the Nanyang mural (and the whole of Singapore) can now spruce up more easily, for example. MP Ang lobbied the Government for years, and now only three out of four shopowners in a development need to opt into the Revitalisation of Shops (ROS) scheme. (“How to get 100 per cent, no? Very difficult!” said MP Ang.) 

There was also when the Jurong West market infamously burnt down in the middle of the night during October 2016. MP Ang was in charge of the market’s Jurong Central ward at that time and was on the scene before 6 am. There, in the heat and the darkness, he surveyed the damage done. He listened to the stallholders — largely uninsured and now without a livelihood. 

A speedy six weeks later, MP Ang finished a makeshift market area at the Block 498 basketball court for the stallholders. And he helped other affected merchants quickly find stalls elsewhere. 

“Those first few weeks I was meeting the different agencies almost every night to get spending, to get approval to build the site. Had to make sure that they built it in time for Christmas and Chinese New Year,” he recalled. 

“In the end by then, the shopowners could sell their goods and the residents had something to buy and also visit their everyday shops.” 

Source: Ang Wei Neng / YouTube 

So that’s MP Ang for you: He’s got that combination of timeliness and attention to fine detail down, and he’ll be there for your ward to let the good times last and to get through the bad. 

A contest for Nanyang residents 

Why a girl on a swing, though?, we asked when wrapping up our interview. 

“She’s vibrant, like how we’re building a vibrant neighbourhood. She’s throwing petals in the shape of hearts so that goes back to Nanyang CAREs,” said MP Ang, referring to his Caring-Active-Refresh-Enable vision for the ward. 

Ang Wei Neng CARES for Nanyang
– MP Ang’s CARE for Nanyang includes Enabling people with disabilities (PWDs) in areas like caregiving, education and jobs. “It is important for persons with disabilities (PWD) to work with dignity,” he’s said before. 

– Added block murals during the ward repainting programme; now they add heaps towards making Nanyang unique.
  
– Rebuilt the burnt-down Jurong West market and found temporary stalls for the affected merchants.

– Successfully lobbied the Government so that neighbourhood shopowners can opt in more easily to the Revitalisation of Shops scheme; brighter, better everyday shopping, here we come! 

– Asked the Government to spruce up the ward’s heartland shops and the Keat Hong Shopping Centre wet market

– Since 2011, MP Ang’s Nanyang Sayang programme has given free mentorship and tuition to kids from lower-income families and rental flats — you can email and take part here

Plus, remember that mention of “one or two areas” becoming landmarks? There’s an upcoming contest for that.   

“The next precinct that I’m going to renovate is quite near the branch. There are two blocks that are mirror images of each other and have one empty space between them,” MP Ang details. 

“So I’m going to have a contest around those. We are going to open up this contest first quarter this year so that people will give their designs. Then Nanyang residents choose the best one.” 

“We will always want to rejuvenate the area, and at the same time to get residents involved as much as possible,” said MP Ang.  

Maybe the design will be a continuous loop around the blocks, or can have the blocks reflect each other, Petir.sg and him muse together. Who knows? 

What we know on our end, though, is that both designs certainly would fit excellently with this unique bit of the ward’s architecture; MP Ang’s thought it (and so many other things in Nanyang as well) thoroughly through.