SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was on a constituency tour with his father 56 years ago when the elder statesman laid a brick that became part of the foundation stone at Princess Elizabeth Estate Community Centre.
PM Lee placed a symbolic brick at where the centre used to be to launch Hillview Community Club on Sunday (May 5).
Mr Lee said: “Over this half century, Bukit Gombak has changed, life has changed.”
He thanked the Merdeka Generation for their contributions to the Republic, referring to citizens born in the 1950s who accepted hardships and made sacrifices to help shape post-independent Singapore. Eligible seniors will receive their cards soon, Mr Lee said.
The cards will allow holders to offset some of the healthcare costs.
PM Lee first announced the package in his National Day Rally speech last year, with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat fleshing out its details during Budget earlier this year.
Ms Low Yen Ling, MP and grassroots adviser for Bukit Gombak, said developers took in residents’ suggestions to bring nature to the new community club.
She said: “Bukit Gombak is an area known for its distinct lush greenery... Hillview Community Club’s interior is set apart by local flora and fauna as well as a special rain harvesting feature that conserves water.
“The community club has (also) become a second home for many, where friends, families and neighbours gather to bond, play, learn and grow together,” added Ms Low, who is Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources and Health Amy Khor, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad and MP Yee Chia Hsing also attended the launch.
Long-time resident Alice Foo, 65, said the Hillview neighbourhood has changed beyond recognition since she worked at one of its factories as a packer when Princess Elizabeth Estate Community Centre was still around.
But the club continues to be a place where residents gather, she added. “We used to pull out chairs and watch movies in the open field near the community club,” the administrative clerk said in Mandarin.
Madam Foo volunteers to organise grassroots events, including interest group activities, for Hillview Community Club.
“Baby shows have always been popular, but these days, it’s a bit harder to get participants,” she said, referring to the dwindling birth rate. “So we have to think of more creative ways to get people to join.”