My Place MP: Saktiandi Supaat is making travels around Toa Payoh East seamless and swift

05/04/2024

“I HAVE a regular ritual: Have breakfast early in the morning at the Toa Payoh East markets. Then cycle around the neighbourhood,” said MP Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) when we interviewed him for this latest instalment of My Place MP (MPMP), which shows how your local PAP Member of Parliament improves everyday life for his or her ward’s residents.        

“It lets me go where walking or driving will not typically cover. Secondly, to cover wider spaces and more places within the same time,” MP Saktiandi added about his weekend cycling excursions around Toa Payoh East. 

These regular excursions are uniquely effective for sensing how residents feel — and for starting swift action to meet their needs. From young joggers with their pets to aunties and uncles on the way to lepak with their friends to people with disabilities (PWDs), MP Saktiandi meets heaps of different Toa Payoh East locals during these (quite literally) on-the-ground sessions. 

These residents approach him with the relaxed candour of an old friend; MP Saktiandi and his no-frills black bike with matching tote bag in front are familiar sights in the neighbourhood. Often, these encounters have these residents pointing out that this particular footpath needs straightening, that the interlocking tiles leading down this boulevard should be evened out, and that those of us in wheelchairs need some help to transition smoothly between levels or block to block.

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Source: Saktiandi Supaat/  Facebook 

MP Saktiandi resolves these cases quickly. His Facebook is replete with instances of his efforts. The refurbished footpath behind the United Medicare Centre, the now-proper shortcut to the Blk 27 bus stop and the brand-new pavement to the Blk 247 Kim Keat Link carpark are just some quick and everyday examples of him helping ward residents exactly where they feel that difference.  

Stepping up to help on the ground and after the Block 14A fire

Toa Payoh East residents also know that MP Saktiandi’s round-the-ward cycles are an excellent route for bringing their pressing problems to him. 

“I end up seeing residents who need urgent help along the way. Sometimes they know I’m cycling — they’ll just come up to me to find out whether they can get financial assistance and other help while I’m going around,” he said. 

In these cases, MP Saktiandi links up residents with agencies that can help, or has his team follow up with them. He knows that being part of a continuing ecosystem is what makes help work best. 

“Prior to the Government rolling out the Budget for Cost of Living and CDC vouchers. I worked together with the merchants in Toa Payoh East to roll out a Cost of Living Assistance Programme. We provided $50-$100 vouchers to help our vulnerable residents who need financial assistance to ameliorate or mitigate rising inflation costs,” he said of this ongoing programme. 

Even earlier, MP Saktiandi’s focus on help always being a process saw Toa Payoh East’s vulnerable residents through in the aftermath of the big Block 14A fire in mid-2017. About 50 people were evacuated during the fire, which also damaged both lifts in the block for over a week.   

“And it’s a 25-storey flat. A point block. So, can you imagine the seniors or vulnerable residents or immobile residents who are on the 25th floor? They can’t go down. And those others that are already down cannot go up if they’re not well,” he said. 

So, MP Saktiandi and his team stepped up — and up and up all the way to level 25.  

“We scrambled to help residents. Bought groceries, brought them up to the units 25 floors up. Up and down to help them until the lift is repaired,” he said. 

MP Saktiandi also launched Toa Payoh East’s own Meals, Assistance, Needs, Groceries and Opportunities (MANGO) portal during the pandemic. MANGO is an online portal which brings together for residents all the different types of social assistance which the Toa Payoh East Division provides. It was a well-received boost for needy residents during those difficult days.

Saktiandi Supaat is for a caring, vibrant and inclusive Toa Payoh East
– Set up the MANGO online portal to link residents with aid programmes 
 
– Builds inclusive infrastructure — you must have noticed the added lifts connecting seniors and PWDs to overhead bridges across the ward, as well as the sleek new ones at Blocks 35-37 Lorong 5 
 
– Set up a 100-strong block ambassador (or “kampung head”) programme; this covers every single block in Toa Payoh East 
 
– Integrates new families moving into Toa Payoh East into the CLAP financial help programme 
 
– Maintains the dragon playground over at Lorong 6; only one other dragon playground remains in Singapore  

“In Toa Payoh East, we have this motto: ‘Caring, Inclusive and Vibrant’. It’s a mission that I’ve pushed for since I came in. We want to make sure we have a more diverse Toa Payoh East, so that everyone collaborates and works together with each other,” said MP Saktiandi about the philosophy behind his programmes. 

A seamless transport system

What’s one transport improvement you hope for your ward next?, we at Petir.sg asked to wrap up the interview. 

MP Saktiandi’s answer was immediate. 

“The ideal situation — a sort of heaven-on-earth thing for Toa Payoh East — would be covered linkways from bus stops to along the roadside pedestrian paths. Shade for the elderly would be a good thing,” he said. 

“Places like here, where you are not near MRT stations, we still do take buses. In this period of extreme climate change, it’s important to have shade from both the sun and the rain. So covered linked ways would be useful. It’s going to be costly. But I think we need to take note of those places that are away from the MRT,” he added. 

That was an eminently practical answer, we realised. Not least because each kilometre of linkway cost $1.5 million to build in 2018 money. Toa Payoh East is afterall in a part of Singapore with the highest population density, At the same time, Singaporeans are indeed growing older while climate change made 2023 one of the hottest years ever. These lengthy covered linkways would be an added step in making transport seamless.