SINGAPORE - Aljunied GRC turned from one of the poorest parts of Singapore into a vibrant place, and its transformation can continue under a People's Action Party (PAP) government, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night (Sept 4).
Speaking at a PAP rally in the Workers' Party-held area last night, he detailed plans for new MRT stations, better amenities and a spruced-up waterway.
The biggest project is a long-term plan to develop 800ha to be freed up when the Paya Lebar airbase moves to Changi, 15 to 20 years from now. Many homes, factories and offices can be built on the land, an area larger than Ang Mo Kio.
That will give residents a good chance of living near their parents or children, workplaces and green parks. "But you need a PAP government to do that," he said.
The GRC was won by the WP in 2011 with 54.7 per cent of the valid votes, and the PAP is going all out to win it back this year.
Mr Lee spent a part of his speech reminding residents of the enormous changes in the area.
"Forty, 50 years ago, this was a backward place, a very poor part of Singapore, full of kampungs," he said, citing the Jalan Eunos Malay settlement, Kampung Batak, Kampung Ubi and Kampung Wak Tanjong and others as examples.
Chinese kampungs such as Kampung Yew Keng near Lorong Tai Seng - famed for being gangster territory - were there too.
Nearby, there were also bungalows on stilts in the Hillside Drive and Parry Road area - as well as a famous Chinese temple and hawker food, he said.
Mr Lee said he had spent time in Aljunied GRC serving national service in the Jalan Kambing camp in Paya Lebar. "Today the camp is gone, Jalan Kambing is gone, their kambing (Malay for "goat") also is gone. But I'm not gone, I'm back," he said to cheers from the crowd.
"Just look around you - the houses, the fields, the trains, the roads. Year by year, (with) the PAP
Government working with you, we have transformed Aljunied," he said. The kampungs became new towns, while Bedok Reservoir was built. Calling it a beautiful place, Mr Lee said he frequently went for evening walks there with his family.
He also once served as the MP in charge of the Serangoon Gardens part of Aljunied GRC, when the private estate was under Ang Mo Kio GRC.
During his time there, Serangoon Gardens' roads were improved, its drains were covered and the hawker centres upgraded under the then-new Estate Upgrading Project. The PAP did all that because it wanted to make things better for residents, he said.
If the PAP is voted back into Aljunied GRC, it can transform the area in and around it again.
In next-door Marine Parade GRC, for instance, the new Paya Lebar Central commercial hub is being developed, with the Lifelong Learning Institute already in place.
Residents can also visit Wisma Geylang Serai, which will be ready in two years, he said, adding that it will be even more lively and colourful during the Hari Raya season.
As for changes in Aljunied GRC itself, the Defu industrial estate will be developed into "a modern, green, beautiful industrial park" where residents can jog and enjoy the scenery.
The Downtown Line 3 is being constructed and will open in two years, with four stations - Bedok Reservoir, Bedok North, Kaki Bukit and Ubi - to be located there.
Sungei Pinang, a canal located at Hougang Avenue 10, will also be beautified and the amenities there improved under the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme.
"It's going to be much more convenient for Aljunied GRC residents to commute, to go to work," he said.