Whenever I pass by Hougang SMC, I never fail to notice something different from the other parts of Singapore. Yes I’m referring to the twin pillar lightings at the entrance of every car park in Hougang. They are painted to eye catching colours of red and yellow. The obnoxious looking pillars stick out like sore thumbs to some but I associate them to the Workers’ Party.
What about every HDB block in Hougang with lit up numbers also painted in red and yellow? Only in Hougang SMC, you will find such feature, signage or landmark.
I lived in a 4-room NG resale flat in Hougang SMC for slightly more than 10 years from Jan 1998 to Aug 2008. I frequented the nearby wet market cum hawker centre at Blk 11 Hougang Ave 5. Surely I know a thing or two about that nostalgic place.
That hawker centre cum wet market with the surrounding one room rental and four storey three room rental flats together with some of the single storey light industry factories are now gone. ( Blks 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 11A, 12, 13 and 14 ) The entire neighborhood teeming with humanity within Houagang Ave 5, Old Tampines Rd and Hougang Ave 3 boundary was obliterated just like that when HDB suddenly decided to re-develop that area. Is that really so?
Let me recall and capture some of the memories I still have of the small neighborhood comprising the few blocks of flats centering around the vibrant hawker centre.
There were more than three coffee shops at the few blocks of four storey flats. The food was cheap and tasty. I used to take my lunch there for only $2 compared to other places then selling at a minimum of $3 for the same.
Some stalls inside the hawker centre selling porridge with 3 varieties costing $2 also. Mee was available for $1.50! Every 15th and 21st of the lunar month, the fresh flower stall at the wet market did brisk business. Residents from faraway Sengkang and elsewhere came here to shop and eat for the cheap and delicious food.
I remember on every Sun the car park would be full and jammed pack. People were everywhere. Business was good for those HDB shophouses too. MP Low TK could be seen mingling with the crowd there in the market and coffee shops. He too had his breakfast and coffee in the morning joining the residents there.
When it’s about few days before CNY, the whole area came alive with even much more business hive of activities. Most of the workers had already stopped work in anticipation of the coming CNY and they would have started their early celebration by drinking crates of beer and merry making around the coffee shops and hawker centre in the area.
Most would agree that place was the “stronghold or bastion” of WP power base. Almost all would cheer and welcome MP Low TK whenever he made his appearance. If you care to listen closely to the coffee shop talk, it’s staunchly pro WP.
I can vouch for the pro WP sentiment in the area then cuz I used to read my morning papers bought from one of the two mini kiosks near to the market and had my breakfast. I could sense the mood of solid support for WP. It’s in the air. One could almost smell it.
When the then comical SM Goh was tasked to recapture Hougang by PM two GEs ago under Eric Low, he commented that Hougang SMC comprised mostly of blue collar workers after a tour of the hawker centre and market area. He promised “upgrading” of the hawker centre and wet market amongst so many other goodies if the PAP won.
When the residents asked the SM if food prices in the newly upgraded hawker centre and wet market would increase citing the recently upgraded nearby Lor Ah Soo hawker centre and wet market. He comically replied that it couldn’t be avoided. Those residents then told him that in that case it’s better to maintain the status quo. Why upgrade to increase prices? That’s what’s happening all over the island which indirectly led to the rising costs of living for the commoners! That common sense sentiment (but never understood by those elites drawing millions in paycheck) was translated loud and clear in the ballot box.
I’ve also heard frequent comments by residents that they would support WP cuz the MP came to pay respect on their parents’ funeral wake. WP even sent scrolls and banners to the wake. The residents’ loyalty to WP was secured in such a subtle incremental gesture by the incumbent MP. How could I not vote him when he paid his respects at my parent’s altar? Thus, WP’s presence is entrenched.
In the name of redevelopment, the entire neighbourhood has been obliterated by the govt. To be fair to the govt, those flats were indeed very old – more than 35 years old. But in GE 2011, we saw YSL’s share of votes hit nearly 65% gaining much support even though that area which was well known to be WP supporters especially those one room rental flats were removed.
The huge empty piece of land is now cleared for a condominium development. It’s now quiet and deserted with only two remaining surviving blocks ie Blks 6 and 7. The era of cheap delicious food and the kumpung spirit is completely wiped out and gone.
But then, the “obnoxious and eye sore” red & yellow trademark twin pillars gracing every HDB car park entrance in Hougang can now be found all over Aljunied GRC from Hougang Ave 1, 2 and 3 to Lor Ah Soo and Bedok Reservoir Rd to Kaki Bukit etc. If you care to go down to Bedok Reservoir Rd wet market cum hawker centre, similar sentiments as in those yester years prevailing in Hougang SMC circa Blk 11 hawkers centre & wet market could also be found here. The Hougang spirit is already replicated all over Aljunied GRC – the midas touch by WP!
The Hippo is a cute and huge herbivorous animal. But it is known to shit in large amount wherever it goes. This is to demarcate his territory by leaving it’s shit to warn off intruders.
Similarly, I used to bring my Jack Russell dog outdoor. I noticed that it would sniff around and then deposit a little of urine all over the place as wide as possible and as far as possible, sometimes more than ten spots then only it would be satisfied and reluctantly agreed to go back. This is an act of territorial demarcation to warn others to keep away.
By planting those eye catching red and yellow twin pillar lightings at every car park entrance in WP area and hopefully to more territory is tantamount to that innate desire like those found in animals to stamp it’s presence. We are basically no difference from those animals in that sense.
Will those red and yellow “twin pillar lightings” spread further come 2016 is anybody’s guess. In the meantime, Hougang seat is now left vacant. WP has to ensure that the seat be returned to them.
Whether the PM under the constitution ‘can or cannot’ withheld a by election at his discretion or ‘when’ to hold it within or without any time frame at his discretion does not matter here since he has already said that by election for Hougang will be held.
Yes to discuss about our assisting laws pertaining to “by election” will be “sub judice” which can lead to jail.
The PM has said that by election will be held but at his discretion of the timing. It could be 1, 2 or 3 years from now! The 4th year is the GE. PM said it will be held but “when” only he and God will know! We don’t know. We can only speculate.
Anyway, we are curious as to how the high court shall interpret the existing laws for by election. It will put to an end once and for all the relevance of any future “by election”, if there is any.
I think PM will at least wait for the two main issues to pass i.e. the COI and Malaysian GE which is expected any time soon. If there are no other issues after these two issues, then he might just suddenly set a date for the by election.
Once the findings of the COI are made public, there will be much debate and discussion on the measures and counter measures of the recommendations. At the same time, we are also worried about the Malaysian GE which will have an impact on our future.
I foresee the time frame to be in the 4th quarter of the year at the most after National Day and his rally speech where major policy considerations are usually announced. If he drags on too long, the cyber noises will get louder! It will cause more collateral damage and voters in Hougang will feel alienated.
Of course from what we read, PM is putting the blame solely on WP for leaving Hougang residents in the lurch. But then if WP did not take that decisive action of sacking YSL, I’m sure there would be more much worst artillery shelling from all quarters.
So the Chinese saying, “官子两个口” is quite true. The character “官” (Govt Official) is written with two “口” (mouth). They can say what they deem right or wrong. They can choose what to say as they deem fit to say depending on the occasion or whether they favour you or otherwise. Akin to roti prata where they can flip flop whichever way they prefer.
My two cents’ worth.