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PM Lee going all way out to please Fernvale residents in the forthcoming General Election

At a community event in Fernvale yesterday (24 Mar), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a new sports hub as well as community care facilities for the residents living in the area. Fernvale now forms part of a new ward called Sengkang South which itself comes under Ang Mo Kio GRC.

PM Lee who is also an MP of Ang Mo Kio GRC officiated the groundbreaking ceremony for the new $1.1 million sports hub called Fernvale Square, which will be located near Jalan Kayu Joint Temple in Sengkang West Avenue. It will be available by September.

There will also be a community care hub for seniors and a childcare centre due by the end of next year. The care hub will offer befriending services, community exercise programmes and home care services in addition to other health check services.

PM Lee was flanked by fellow MPs from Ang Mo Kio GRC at the event. "Had a delightful time at the Ki-bies (short for kids and babies) Carnival in Sengkang South yesterday. Good to see young ones and families bonding through the games and activities," PM Lee wrote on his Facebook page.

"Residents will enjoy more sports facilities when Fernvale Square is completed in late 2018. My thanks to Gan Thiam Poh, the Jalan Kayu Joint Temple members, residents, and volunteers for working hard at this."

MP Gan is responsible for the new Sengkang South ward in Ang Mo Kio GRC. He was formerly from Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC. He told reporters that the new facilities were planned after collecting feedback from residents in the area.

"We have to plan ahead for childcare facilities, as there are a number of young families here, and also provide medical services to seniors on their doorstep, so that they don't have to travel to the hospital," he said.

ST reported that a delighted resident Chan Cheow Yong, 75, had welcomed the new community care centre. The resident said, "Getting to the nearest hospital takes at least half an hour, but I can get to this centre in just a few minutes for health screenings, to check if I have chronic diseases like diabetes."

Fernvale in AMK GRC carved out from Sengkang West SMC

On closer inspection, it is noted that Fernvale area in Ang Mo Kio GRC was actually carved out from Sengkang West SMC just before the last GE in 2015.

In late Dec 2014, news of a columbarium expected to be built in Fernvale Lea HDB BTO estate surprised and angered many HDB owners in Sengkang West.

HDB development booklet of the area has shown that the site was reserved for a Chinese temple but the developer, a public listed company in Australia, intended to integrate it with columbarium facilities.


(Photo from Redwire)

In response, HDB and URA said that the town map and site plan issued did include notes which indicated that "places of worship may include columbarium as an ancillary use".

With many unhappy HDB owners and with the election looming in Sep 2015, MP Lam Pin Min quickly called a town hall meeting in Jan 2015. Over 400 Fernvale HDB owners and residents turned up for the dialogue session. Many were alarmed and demanded explanations from the authorities. MP Lam's response at the session was pretty dismal.

A resident asked Lam if he was aware of the land tender bid and the columbarium to be built. While Lam said that he was aware but he did not answer the question directly if he was aware of the plan to build a columbarium too.

He was much dumbfounded when another resident from another Sengkang BTO project asked if their sales brochure had the same wordings to say that there would be a Chinese temple/columbarium. Some residents wanted to know if they could get a refund but Lam was unable to reply. A video of the dialogue session captured by a resident went viral online with many netizens condemning the performance of MP Lam at the dialogue session.

Eventually in May 2015, Ministry of National Development terminated the original tender awarded to the Australian company and put up a new tender which restored the original planning intent of a Chinese temple. The Government refunded the company the full land premium of about $5.2 million, as well as the associated taxes and duties that it paid for the site.

On hindsight, this move was observed to have been made 4 months before 2015 GE in Sep. Obviously, the PAP government was going all way out to "please" the residents in Sengkang West, considering the fact that Lam only garnered 58.1% at Sengkang West SMC in 2011 GE.

PM Lee notifies public of transfer of 3 polling districts from Sengkang West SMC to AMK GRC

And in Jul 2015, 2 months before GE, PM Lee notified the public through a gazette of Election Department, which comes under his office, that 3 polling districts of Sengkang West SMC, namely SW 13, 14 and 15 would be transferred to Ang Mo Kio GRC.

The 3 polling districts are bounded by Jalan Kayu, Sengkang West Way and Fernvale Road:

Hence, quite a number of blocks (403–407 and 441–453) from Fernvale area were moved into Ang Mo Kio GRC and they now constitute part of Sengkang South ward.

No doubt, with the new $1.1 million sports hub as well as community care facilities, PM Lee will surely hope that Fernvale residents would vote for him and his party in the forthcoming GE.