When I was young, I went to Potong Pasir all the time. My relatives and my grandmother lived there, and we ‘visited’ Potong Pasir for family gatherings and festivals like Chinese New Year.
Since I was very young, I was aware of the differences between Potong Pasir and Bukit Batok. The flats looked older, the children’s playground were the sandbox kind, and there was no MRT. I always thought that Potong Pasir was a older, poorer neighbourhood, until I learnt it was an opposition constituency.
Whenever my parents and relatives talk politics, it was about how PP was an opposition ward, and how it affects their lives. Sometimes it’s about how PAP treats PP differently as an opposition ward, sometimes about what can be done to improve their quality of life. But it always comes down to the same thing. How much they love Mr. Chiam See Tong, and the things he’d done for them as their MP.
I remember running around the small park area near my grandmother’s place. I remember playing with my cousins at the sandbox playground – because that was the type we liked, and we had the new sponge flooring types in Bukit Batok. I remember going to the small convenience store and the coffee shop. I remember running along the corridors and playing with my cousins and disturbing the neighbours. I remember always taking shortcuts through the community center, and how alive and vibrant it was. I remember being surprised at the community spirit, because I didn’t feel that where I lived. And now as a resident of Pioneer, I sometimes feel like I’m the foreigner because there seem to be so few Singaporeans in this area. But most importantly, I remember the love the people had for Mr. Chiam and that was a kind of love for your MP that you didn’t see in many other constituencies. Maybe it’s because they knew he loves the residents of PP and wants to make a better home for them.
I don’t think we can find or reproduce the same feeling of community and closeness that PP had. Even as a ‘guest’ of PP all these years, I could feel how wonderful the community is in PP, how welcoming. Every time I go to PP to visit relatives, it feels like going home, somehow. My relatives were en-bloced and moved to Sengkang and I can tell you, there just isn’t a sense of community there. These are the things I’ll always remember and love about PP.
And with Mr. Chiam retiring from politics after having lost Bishan-Toh Payoh yesterday, there is a sense of loss, the end of an era. Mr. Chiam had fought the good fight for 27 years, I think he deserves a rest. Perhaps the up and coming Opposition parties can be a force to reckon with, like him. Thank you Mr. Chiam for letting Singaporeans know what it truly is like to come home to a community, and what a true MP is supposed to do for his/her people. You have nothing but my respect.