SINGAPORE - For Madam Gena Tan, Sunday's (Feb 3) visit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Teck Ghee market to exchange Chinese New Year greetings and distribute red packets to residents and stall owners held special significance.
This is because PM Lee had attended her mother Sim Chiu Hong's wake when she died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago at the age of 73, around the time he was to have visited the market.
"He had posted on Facebook that he was giving hongbao at Teck Ghee market, and I had responded that my mother had been looking forward to taking pictures with him, but she suddenly passed on.
"A residents' committee member then told us Mr Lee was coming to pay his respects. He is very kind," said Madam Tan, whose family's Choon Kooi provision shop has been in the market for around 40 years.
Teck Ghee is in Ang Mo Kio GRC, where PM Lee is a Member of Parliament.
"It is a comfort to see him during our difficult time two years ago," she told The Straits Times after PM Lee visited the market and stopped at her shop. "He always asks how we are doing."
PM Lee had also visited Teck Ghee Community Club on Sunday, where around 470 senior residents in the Teck Ghee Division got a headstart to the Chinese New Year celebrations as he exchanged festive greetings and handed out hongbao, bottles of chicken essence and mandarin oranges.
Each senior resident received a hongbao, which contained $150 cash and a Sheng Siong supermarket gift voucher worth $50.
Ms Suzie Ng, 72, who has polio and uses a wheelchair, said PM Lee has done quite a lot for people who are disabled, in terms of housing and building ramps for them.
Ms Apple Tan's baby clothes shop BellaBaBy.sg Handpicked By Moms also received an unexpected visit from PM Lee's wife Ho Ching, who accompanied him on Sunday.
"It is my first time seeing Mrs Lee here," said Ms Tan, 55, whose shop opened at the market about a year ago. "She bought two baby cheongsam jumpers - a pink one, and a blue and yellow one."