Thursday, May 12, 2011

They call this town a slum

This is Potong Pasir, one of the many constituents in this island, notoriously or famously known depending on which perspective, the longest-standing constituent that stubbornly voted to remain under the alternative party helmed by Mr. Chiam See Tong.

It used to be labelled by many ministers and people as "slum", likewise for the other constituent that is not under the current political party. And the term "slum" becomes forever associated with any constituents that are not mandated by the ruling party.

Both the town and Mr. Chiam endured two long decades of insults and jeers from ministers for the state that it was in, for the only sin that the residents of this town had committed--for voting the alternative party as their voice.

Mr. Chiam served his constituent with many constraints imposed by the ruling party--so much so that he could not plant a tree in his own constituent on Planting Tree Day and was demanded to remove it; so much so that he has to set up his make-shift office at the void deck of a hdb flat to conduct his weekly meet-the-people-sessions--a table and a foldable partition. No air-con, no toilet, no dignity of a MP elected by THE PEOPLE.

2011, Potong Pasir fell at last, to the hands of the ruling party. Whatever much Mr. Chiam had dedicated to his town in the last two decades were dwarfed by the materialistic offers dangled by the ruling party--upgrading, lift upgrading, sheltered walkways. We need infrastructure nonetheless, but as well as, if not, more importantly, an architecture of happiness. The latter could only be stemmed from the heart.

And so, goodbye, Potong Pasir.

The distinctive architecture of a block of flat.

On the facade, the term "slum" doesn't seem to hold any water. But there again, maybe this is still not sufficient for some.

Can’t really tell that this is an area of slum by looking at this void deck. I've seen worse in my estate.

Found on every notice board at every block of flat that gives clear information of the meet-the-people session. Gave me the relevation that this is something to be expected for every constituent and it is missing from my void deck notice board for at least 10 years. Wonder if Mr. Khaw would provide such info after he got over his fatigue of walkabout and blisters.

A very relaxing feel. Surprised to chance upon such in a slum.

The fall of this town built with spirit and heart is a reflection for

Singaporeans as well as for the Singapore People's Party in what we define as “home”.

Pockets of crowds waiting at various parts of the estate for the Chiams to thank the voters.

When they finally arrived, crowds just flocked towards the truck with cameras, tears and well-wishes.

And an old man holding on to Mr. Chiam's hand tenaciously, evidencing the kind of quality that Mr. Chiam has left behind Potong Pasir that cannot simply be nurtured through sheltered walkways or lift upgradings.

An entourage of people and cars. Reluctant crowds simply trailed behind the truck. I gave chase too, along the road and all the way into the carpark on the other side of the road. And I have never for ONCE see any point to spend my time or effort to turn up for any celebrity event, not to mention chasing after a celebrity. What's the point? I would ask myself. But that day, 8th of May, I did. All because I wanted to thank him for doing all that for Singaporeans.

Some cars sounded the horns while trailing after the Chiams and stubborn crowds chanting the names of the Chiams.

A heart-wrenching sight. This is where Mr. Chiam’s office used to be. 27 years. A partition locked to a wall. Only when the partition is pulled out will then present the full state of an “office” for a MEMBER of the PARLIAMENT of SINGAPORE. That is why we are still a third world country.

Fencing up Potong Pasir. The field which held many SPP rallies is now fenced up for some reason.
The rallies would forever etch in my heart as it was the first time that I witness what kind of track record Mr. Chiam has left behind. A quality that touches the heart of the residents that could neither be fenced up or bulldozed over.

So again, goodbye, Potong Pasir.