Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Random Thoughts: Punggol East - A Day After the 2015 General Elections

Random Thoughts: Punggol East SMC - A Day After the 2015 General Elections


I was at Hougang Stadium, awaiting for the results for the 2015 General Elections. It was a very lively atmosphere filled with supporters from the opposition Workers' Party. The party had contested in several SMCs and GRCs within the eastern parts of Singapore. One wonders, why do we need 101 seats in Parliament for a country of 718 square miles?

Background

Punggol East SMC in official maps. Credits: http://www.onemap.sg/index.html
Punggol East SMC was carved out during the 2011 General Elections from the Pasir Ris - Punggol GRC. It's area, covering the eastern area of Sengkang compromises the whole area of the Rivervale district. The constituency name somewhat doesn't make sense, considering that it is located in Sengkang and not Punggol and no roads bares the name "Punggol" with the exception of "Punggol Road" the boundary, and the actual road of "Punggol East" itself is not even located within the area.

During the 2011 GE, PAP's Micheal Palmer won the seat after contesting from Lee Li Lian of the Workers' Party and Desmond Lim of the SDA. The former Speaker of Parliament used to be the MP of the ward but resigned after revelations of an extramarital affair. A by-election was held in January 2013. That was when the constituency cam into the spotlight.

The candidates this time were PAP's Dr Koh Poh Koon, Reform Party's Kenneth Jeyaretnam and once again, Desmond Lim of the SDA and Workers' Party Lee Li Lian. WP won the by-election this time with 54.5% of the votes, defeating the rest of the other candidates despite the multi-cornered fight.

Punggol East Today

Campaign posters all over Punggol East SMC for 2015 GE 
Workers' Party campaign truck.

My fiancee and her family is staying in Punggol East. My cousin also stayed there ever since Sengkang as built. I may not be a resident there, but I have seen the On numerous occasions while I was there, Punggol East, or in this case, Rivervale was like any ordinary part of Sengkang, even before the Workers' Party was running the town council, other than the obvious change in block number signsboards, Overall, being under an opposition ward, the place seem to have some uniqueness and character to it, as the perception of unmantained facilities, sans upgrading just like Potong Pasir and Hougang was. However I felt that there was no difference and change in cleanliness, maintenance of facilities or resident unhappiness.

Me and my friend awaiting for GE results
The crowd when Lee Li Lian came on stage.
After the results were announce on election night, when Miss Lee Li Lian of the Workers' Party lost her seat to PAP's Charles Chong, I was devastated. The whole Hougang Stadium was. The mood quickly somber and the atmosphere died.

The next day, I was at fiancee's house, she too expressed her disgust over the election results. Inspired by the changes after Potong Pasir was handed over to the PAP, I decided to document everything I could in Punggol East while it was still in WP's control, before the official handover of town council to the PAP and things change once more.

Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council logo
Punggol East branch office of AHPETC at Rivervale Cres Blk 156A
The biggest change is probably the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council will probably revert back to Aljunied-Hougang Town Council which is a pretty good thing considering that AHPETC is the longest town council name ever in Singapore. The running and responsibility of town council for Rivervale will probably revert back to Pasir Ris-Punggol TC once again. With that come to my next point.
AHPETC Signboard within Punggol East SMC 
Notices of AHPETC operations in blocks at the life lobbies
AHPETC block signs in Punggol East
Many of the signs, logos, notices and other decorations that AHPETC has already put up will probably be removed by the new town council. This has already happened in Potong Pasir when Mr Chiam See Tong's name was removed from every facility in Potong Pasir that was either opened or built by him in his honor. It seems that the ruling party doesn't wanna remind or leave the legacy of opposition figures within the wards they have captured.
Most likely, due to budgetary reasons, AHPETC did not change directional signboards leading to estates. Most likely to be retained if Pasir Ris Punggol TC takes over.
A directional sign to the AHPETC PE branch. Most likely to be removed soon.
Void deck of a block in Rivervale
If there is one thing I have noticed, is that some void decks and common corridors of some flats are extensively decorated with plants, outdoor chairs, swings and even gardens infront their houses. By the looks of this, town council in opposition wards tend to be lax in enforcing cluttered common areas and residents have thus taken advantage by making their common corridors like their own homes. As I have lived in Tampines and Bedok in the past,  common corridors seem to be less cluttered due to the enforcement that the respective TC has taken to reduce "fire hazards" within common corridors.

Conclusion

Campaign banner at Rivervale drive.
After her loss, Lee Li Lian said in her speech that she will ensure a smooth handover of the town council and MP elect, Charles Chong wants to make the town council a "top priority". In other words, just like Potong Pasir, we may see a lot of physical changes to Rivervale in time to come. But being a new estate, the changes may not even be noticeable except for the removal of all AHPETC related decorations. But will it serve the residents better or worst? We'll just have to see. Regardless, thank you, Ms Lee Li Lian for service and dedication.

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