Dr Chee Soon Juan has been on a mission to highlight some of the more “questionable” neighbourhood renewal programme (NRP) projects that the People’s Action Party (PAP) proposed for Bukit Batok.
Dr Chee stood for elections at the Bukit Batok SMC in the previous general elections. He ultimately lost to PAP’s Murali Pillai.
Here is a list of the issues he’s highlighted so far pertaining to the NRP as well as other infrastructure issues in the area:
1. Linkways proposed near Blks 192 and 193 leading to desolate pavilion
On 12 October, he talked about a linkway to be built near Blks 192 and 193 according to the Jurong Town Council Bukit Batok 5-year master plan 2020-2025.
He question the placement of the linkway and asked what it would be connecting, as it is not indicated on the map. In fact, the spot on which the linkway is to be built is currently a standalone pavilion, he noted.
In this post, he also talked about a playground planned for the area even though there is also an existing playground just a few metres away. In that same post, he also noted that the proposed BBQ area also has BBQ pits that are rarely used by residents.
“Is the TC proposing tearing up the current pits and rebuilding new ones a few feet away?” he asked.
Dr Chee went on to note that the TC website says that the NRP will be “fully paid for by our government”. He countered this, saying that the construction, maintenance and upgrading costs will actually be borne by residents and taxpayers.
Two days later in the second part of this installation, Dr Chee described the Masterplan as “confusing” given that the plan to turn a pavilion into a link (in #1) has been altered so that now two linkways would be built to connect Blk 192 and 193 the pavilion.
He question whether this alteration made sense given the desolate state of the pavilion and the fact that residents have been “crying out” for much needed payment along the route from Blk 187 to the bus stop along Ave 1.
2. “White elephant” elevated boardwalk
Next, Dr Chee talked about the plans to install an elevated boardwalk at the BB Neighbourhood Park—which comes under the proposed works for the Planned Future Improvements Project.
He noted, “The problem is that the construction of this boardwalk is already almost completed. The information board indicated that the work had started back in 2019.”
He then asked why the JRTC included this project among items proposed for future work when it is going to be completed soon.
“This is, to put it mildly, highly misleading,” he asserted.
He also questioned whether the boardwalk would be yet another “white elephant” structure that looks good but won’t be used by residents.
3. Bad drainage at Blk 121
On 6 November last year, he highlighted the issue of inadequate drainage at Block 121 in Bukit Batok.
Dr Chee shared a video in his post – which was sent by a resident in the area – showing the drains outside the residence block being overflowed during a heavy downpour recently.
He stated that he has urged the Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JRTC) to “take prompt action” after informing them about the situation.
4. Replacing still-good canvass roof at basketball court ad other serviceable amenities
In the same month, Dr Chee highlighted the JTC’s plan to replace a fairly new canvas roof at a neighbourhood basketball court.
Dr Chee said that he did not see any visible signs of disrepair, adding that the roof seems to be in “good condition”.
“JRTC needs to tell residents why, if there are indeed problems, can’t the roof be repaired instead of replaced,” he stressed in a later post, adding that the bigger question is why the basketball court was built in the first place.
In that same post, he also questioned the need for the toilets in the facility to be upgraded, noting that the roof looks “perfectly serviceable”.
He also pointed out the plan to remove and replace the seats and tables at the void deck of Blk 175, called the “cosy corner”. Again, he noted that the structure is in good conditions, and questioned the need for this upgrade in the first place.
5. Changing ‘well loved’ rooftop carpark to garden with too-narrow footpaths
In the following month, Dr Chee shared that a BB resident pointed out to him the HDB’s proposal to change a rooftop carpark used by residents for recreational activities into a “garden. The resident also bemoaned the HDB’s lack of consultation with residents before even making such a proposal.
In the post, Dr Chee stated that the resident mentioned to him that if the garden is built as per HDB’s proposal, then there will be only a narrow footpath for residents to do other recreational activities.
“The problem is that the carpark has become a ‘well-loved space’ by the residents – people take walks in the morning, exercise, walk their dogs, play ball games with children, etc. It has become part of the fabric of many residents’ daily lives,” wrote Dr Chee.
He went on to state that while the authorities’ intentions are not wrong, but it is still important for JRTC and Mr Murali to “make a genuine attempt to consult residents and seek their views before going ahead with the reconstruction”.
6. Two new parks inside existing BB Hillside Park
Also in December, Dr Chee talked about the development of Bukit Batok Hillside Park which National Development Minister Desmond Lee would include two new parks.
However, Dr Chee highlighted that the area which the MND has renamed the Bukit Batok Hillside Nature Park actually lies within the current BB Hillside Park.
“It now seems that the govt will go ahead and clear BBHP for development and then leave a fraction of the forest as BBHNP,” said Dr Chee.
The second part MND will develop is named the BB Central Nature Park, he added.
“As I understand it and as described in the ST report, this area is already a forested one. Why would the MND want to develop it into a park and then rename it?” Dr Chee questioned.
7. Pointless shelter for passageway only 15 steps from existing sheltered linkway
In January, Dr Chee made a video about a shelter that is proposed for a passageway at Blk 642 in Bukit Batok Central leading to a bus stop, only 15 steps away from an existing linkway that leads to the same place.
In the video, Dr Chee described this proposal as “stupid” given how many people have lost jobs in these difficult times due to COVID-19. He described this as using money in a “careless manner” and that the planning is in “poor form”.
Bonus: Some projects have been cancelled & JRTC has set up a feedback form for residents
On 18 January, Dr Chee shared in a Facebook post that some of these ideas he has highlighted as being dubious have in fact been “ditched”.
This includes the initial plan to convert a pavilion to a linkway and building playgrounds and BB areas just metres away from existing ones.
Declaring that “common sense has prevailed”, Dr Chee also said he is glad that the JRTC has recently drawn up a feedback form to get ideas from residents, as he has repeatedly urged them to consult with residents on neighbourhood renewal projects.
“I note, however, that many of the ideas in the form are the same old suggestions: void-deck seating areas, games courts, playground, BBQ area, drop-off points, etc. These are amenities that already exist,” he continued.