Potong Pasir, My Kind of Town - Alvinology

Potong Pasir, My Kind of Town

Entering Potong Pasir, My Kind of Town
Entering Potong Pasir, My Kind of Town

Regardless, of which party you voted for, I encourage all Singaporeans to get your picture taken at the “Welcome to Potong Pasir” signboard with Mr Chiam See Tong‘s smiling face within the next few days.

The signboard is located at the entrance of Potong Pasir Ave 1, turning in from Upper Serangoon Road. If you are taking public transport, take bus 142 from Toa Payoh Interchange or alight at Potong Pasir MRT station and walk there:

Direction to the signboard
Direction to the signboard

The picture will make a nice memento of Singaporeans’ political awakening this election.

I do not know when our new MP, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin will get the signboard replaced or demolished, but I feel that the signboard is a symbol of Mr Chiam’s 27 years legacy in Potong Pasir with the residents. It will be a shame to see it go, but it would be unfair to our new MP to keep it either.

I had mine taken, together with a group of childhood friends who grew up together in the area earlier this afternoon:

Proud to be a Potong Pasir resident
Proud to be a Potong Pasir resident
Cheese!
Cheese!
Many others came to take their pictures by the signboard too
Many others came to take their pictures by the signboard too
More others taking pictures
Another couple taking pictures

We have not met up for some time, but such was the strong bond of being a resident in Potong Pasir that we were able to organise an impromptus photo-taking gathering within an hour.

There was a thank you parade from the SPP team, scheduled from 4pm. I headed there with my friends, bumping into many other old friends and neighbours along the way.

Emotions were running high. Many people, both males and females, of all ages and races were tearing as we bid our goodbyes to the Chiams and the SPP team.

Residents flocked down their flats
Residents flocked down their flats
Sad goodbye
Sad goodbye
Mr Chiam greeting supporters
Mr Chiam greeting supporters
A young boy shaking Mr Chiam's hand
A young boy shaking Mr Chiam's hand
Suppporters going up to Mr Chiam, one after another
Suppporters going up to Mr Chiam, one after another
Hoisting the SPP flag high
Hoisting the SPP flag high
This boy was shouting his lungs out for Chiam See Tong
This boy was shouting his lungs out for Chiam See Tong
Political awareness starts young here
Political awareness starts young here
The SPP lorry sets off for the thank you parade
The SPP lorry sets off for the thank you parade
A family of ardent supporters
A family of ardent supporters
Supporters, young and old
Supporters, young and old
Mr Chiam waving his thanks
Mr Chiam waving his thanks
Supporters and well-wishers flocking to shake Lina's hands
Supporters and well-wishers flocking to shake Lina's hands
Thumbs up for Lina Chiam
Thumbs up for Lina Chiam
"Don't cry"
"Don't cry"

“Don’t cry, we will be back. Please listen to your new MP while I am not here,” urged Lina Chiam to many visibly upset and shaken residents as they shook her hands.

No one was forced or paid to line the streets to welcome the SPP
No one was forced or paid to line the streets to welcome the SPP
Lina Chiam waving to supporters
Lina Chiam waving to supporters
Some watched from their flat windows
Some watched from their flat windows
Everyone whipping out their cameras as the SPP team arrives
Everyone whipping out their cameras as the SPP team arrives
Many drove by to follow the SPP lorry as they embark on the parade
Many drove by to follow the SPP lorry as they embark on the parade
Mr and Mrs Chiam See Tong
Mr and Mrs Chiam See Tong
One of many ordinary Singaporeans seen tearing as the SPP team past by
One of many ordinary Singaporeans seen tearing as the SPP team past by
Another lady, touched by the Chiams
Another lady, touched by the Chiams
Little boy crying
Little boy crying

There were many others like me and my friends prowling around the small town of Potong Pasir today, armed with their cameras and video-cams. Some could have been residents, others may have come from other parts of Singapore, either way, I am happy the awareness level for Potong Pasir has gone up.

If you bother to walk around Potong Pasir, the myth that we are a ”slum” will quickly be dispelled. Do these photos below look like a slum estate to you:

Our town centre - no NTUC FairPrice, but there are many mom and pop shops
Our town centre - no NTUC FairPrice, but there are many mom and pop shops
Looks like slum or not?
Looks like slum or not?
Your Town, Your Voice, Your Pride!
Your Town, Your Voice, Your Pride!
Again... slum?
Again... slum?
I remember it was a big deal in Potong Pasir when the first McDonald's outlet arrived here
I remember it was a big deal in Potong Pasir when the first McDonald's outlet arrived here
Children's playground
Children's playground
Spiderweb
Spiderweb
Elderly corner
Elderly corner
Potong Pasir Town Council
Potong Pasir Town Council
Accounting for what the Town Council spent on
Accounting for what the Town Council spent on
Lots of greenery in the estate
Lots of greenery in the estate
More nice greenery, planted by residents
More nice greenery, planted by residents
Town Council noticeboard
Town Council noticeboard
Residents' memories
Residents' memories

Potong Pasir has a lot of hearts. That why the slogan, “Potong Pasir, My Kind of Town” resonates so well with many of us here.

I am and always will be proud to be a Potong Pasir resident.

Technorati Tags: potong pasir, singapore general elections, ge 2011, lina chiam, spp, singapore people’s party, chiam see tong, mr and mrs chiam see tong, singapore general elections 2011, sitoh yih pin, pap wins potong pasir, spp loses potong pasir, potong pasir residents, spirit of potong pasir, potong pasir signboard, potong pasir chiam see tong signboard, welcome to potong pasir signboard, potong pasir my kind of town, direction to potong pasir chiam see tong signboard, how to get to potong pasir chiam see tong signboard, take picture with chiam see tong signboard

75 comments
  1. I think I saw you and your friends this afternoon.
    I also went around to take some photos of Potong Pasir for my memories. 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing the pictures, of a little town that people may have called “slum”. It is full of heart, and hope everybody there continues with the Potong Pasir spirit of friendship and community.

  3. This made me cry buckets even though I may not be a Potong Pasir resident, but it fills with so much love and gratitude that this man must be such a hero, with a character of steel to command this level of respect, almost unseen in Singapore.

  4. I’ve never been to Potong Pasir but it looks lovely and wonderfully nostalgic. All thanks to the people who seem to be immensely caring, just like Mr Chiam..a leader who walks behind the people and serves them unconditionally.

  5. Thank you for sharing this! I don’t live in Potong Pasir but the Chiams’ devotion to this little corner of Singapore became so clear to me at the SPP rallies. Thank you for this post showing Singapore the real potong pasir.

  6. I saw you and your friends today while we are waiting outside the CC!

    I am, always always always, a proud Potong Pasir resident. My kind of town!!!

    Thanks for those great pics!

  7. Nice post. I’m 22yo man and you had my tears swelling.

    I was there when Mr Chiam held his rally at Bishan. I will never forget the moment everyone stood up when he got onto the stage. His absence is PP’s loss.

    Sir, please hv some time for yourself. You deserved a graceful retirement. May god bless your soul.

  8. THANKS so much for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes, and I probably have NEVER been to Potong Pasir in my life (pathetic I know) cos I’m from the east of Singapore. Still, it was lovely to see the pics!! (I’ve shared on my FB wall)

  9. Your post made me miss “my hometown” so much. I really wish I could have been there to vote this time, instead of being in a place with no overseas voting station.

    I am so proud to be a “Potong Pasir-ian”, and will always be one, even if we are drawn into a GRC.

  10. It’s a befitting farewell for a hero. Despite losing the election, Potong Pasir residents still put up some form of resistance.

  11. Thank you for sharing these photos.

    I’ve been there quite a number of times & I love those greenery. Feels so much like huge gardens! Where to find another place like that? The spirit, the friendliness & so much of warmth.

  12. thank you for sharing this invaluable information. i come from a constituency where SPP is contesting for the first time. Judging by how PP is like in visuals, i’m glad i have no 2nd thoughts on how i voted. CST FTW. a great leader who’s entirely devoted to serving his people.

  13. Potong Pasir estate indeed looks and feels very different from the other estates under PAP… in a good way. It feels very homely where everyone knows each other, which is very rare nowadays. I don’t even know who my next-door neighbours are.

  14. Looking at this, I wished I stayed in potong pasir. Mr chiam is truly a hero. He touches not just potong pasir residents’ heart but many singaporeans’, earning our respect for him as well. Mr chiam all the best and stay healthy!

  15. dear alvin, this is indeed a good post and citizen journalists like you play an important part in society by reporting news that the mass media does not. i have seen several of your posts over the years, however i realise that some of the photos you post seem to have inaccurate labels. in this case, i do believe the ‘crying’ boy is wiping perspiration off not tears, and the ‘tearing’ woman could just be blowing her nose. but other than that, this is a lovely post and Mr Chiam will be sorely missed. The dedication he has put in for potong pasir is commendable.

  16. Hi, thank you so so much for bringing non-PP residents into your town! Very heartwarming indeed, am still tearing.. Perhaps the only one thing PP residents need to do now is to correct the right from wrong – ensure that the re-election happens. Praying for the well-being of PP-residents and good health for our beloved Mr Chiam.

  17. Alvin,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes and presented what a loss this was for us Singaporeans. I wish all the best to Mr. Chiam.

  18. When Mr Chiam first mentioned about creating lots of greeneries and mini farms, the PAP cabinet laughed. I felt so angry and unfair. Years later PAP took his idea and try to make it their own but failed. Only reason, Chiam is a man of true vision for social cohesiveness and love for the people. PAP people just want money and power. I am sad to see the Chiams go. Continue to treat them with love while they both rest for the next 5 years. My love from my family to the Chiams.

  19. A simple and yet wonderful tribute to Mr Chiam See Tong. A true reflection of the man.

    CST build up Potong Pasir, both in spirit and in infrastructure, with his heart. What he lacked in resources, he made up for it with hardwork, dedication and community involvement. How I wish the “kampong spirit” of PP is present in many other parts of Singapore.

  20. alvin, thanks for sharing this post. didn’t know you live in Potong Pasir. CST was and still is my favourite politician since young when he fought LKY with the likes of Jeyaratnam. i can’t believe it’s been 27years and his love for singaporeans and never give up attitude is very admirable. i wish him and his team all the best.

  21. I went down Block 108 at Potong Pasir to sign the petition for a by-election.

    Although it seems to be a fruitless attempt, I am glad I did my part for this nice homely town with kampong spirit.

  22. Hi Alvin,

    Thank you very much for sharing. I feel teary after reading what you share.

    I will definitely go and take a picture of the signboard and use it to teach my children about the type of politicans that Singapore should have…

    Vincent

  23. can i sign for the by-election even if im not a Potong Pasir resident ? i think that SPP team should win this election, anyway thank for sharing this memories with us. you had my tears swelling.

  24. Heartfelt entry. Couldn’t stop tearing after I read it and I don’t even live in PP (I’m at Aljunied – YEAY!). Have shared it on my blog. Thanks for the heartwarming story.

  25. It’s truly a sad moment to see Mr Chiam leave Potong Pasir…

    Although I am not a resident, I was schooled in the neighbourhood for a good 10 years of my life…so I practically grew up there 🙂

    Thanks again for the pictures

  26. I remembered when I first arrived at Potong Pasir almost 6 years ago to play street soccer with my kaki (the court behind the community centre), with the mindset that it being under an opposition ward, wouldn’t be as “nice” as those under the PAP wards.

    However, the community and people over there, really changed my opinion of Potong Pasir. I remembered how hard Mr Chiam fought for the shelter walkway (which wasn’t built then), as funds weren’t given to them unless the residents voted for PAP. And I felt so proud for the residents that they had such a terrific MP whenever I walked under it.

    I still remembered during the last election that I witnessed a rousing welcoming by my kaki when he walked past the street soccer court. Thinking that he might not have heard us, I suddenly saw him acknowledge the welcome by waving and smiling to us.

    2 big thumbs up for Mr Chiam. Potong Pasir will NEVER be the same without you.

  27. Hi Alvin
    I’m a Potong Pasir resident. Thank you for showing the world our home. It’s not flashy but it is such a cosy and warm home. I also don’t understand why the other half forgot Mr Chiam’s work for us. Potong Pasir people have always shared his dreams of a better, more democratic Singapore. No material offerings could sway tempt us then. What happened, people who went over to the other side? I’ve always been proud to be a resident of Potong Pasir, no matter how many eyebrows are raised when people hear that I live in an opposition ward. Slum? See for yourself. I will wait for the return of a leader who shares our beliefs and dreams.

  28. I was born and raised in Potong Pasir village 40 odd years ago. Many villagers were forced to move to Ang Mo Kio which was a developing estate then. My family refused to move and the gahment back then, bulldozed all the houses around us and my house was surrounded by only soil/sand. It scared the hell out of us as we were so young then. Though now we do not lived in PP, my siblings and I often chit chat about the good old days we had in PP..fishing, catching spiders, childhood mischief…

  29. all respects to chiam. but i dont think potong pasir has been managed well. the town council is really badly run. Not only me but my neighbours all have bad experiences with the town council. Potong pasir is no slum, but it is not managed well. (personal opinion)

  30. the picture taken is very lovely and beautiful . it is full of memories in Potong Pasir.
    it is warm and cosy in many people’s heart. thank to chiam keep it up. although I don’t live in Potong Pasir

  31. Thank you Alvin for the photos. The Potong Pasir estate looks like just any other PAP run estates, but with more warmth and coziness. Mr Chiam surely has run it well, and I salute him and team. You can look at the blocks at HKNorth which garnered most percentage votes for PAP, it is similar, minus the warmth or kampung spirit. How was upgrading there? Adding useless decorative features on the walls of the blocks was called wasteful upgrading!
    @Lee, try any other PAP town councils, you will torhuey even more. I just shifted to Sembawang GRC for less than 3 mths, and I had a few unpleasant encounters with them already. Talk about town management. *palmface*

  32. thank you for sharing. truly the people of potong pasir has been inspirational, their courage to make a stand when the rest of us couldn’t or wouldn’t. i’ve shared this post on my FB. hope this is fine. thank you.

  33. Thank you, Alvin. I remember you and your friends being there when we took the photos. =)
    I was there and I was tearing. My wife and I have only been in Potong Pasir for 1 and half years since we got married, and Mr & Mrs Chiam have made a great impact in our lives. Potong Pasir is the kind of home we want for our children. We love Potong Pasir.
    There is a petition for a by-election going on. There are so many people in Potong Pasir this evening to sign the petition, residents and non-residents alike. I also heard that after the overseas votes came in, the winning margin is only 78 votes. However, I’m sure that Mr Chiam himself will honour the result of the election, because he upholds democracy. Potong Pasir is an object lesson in democracy. To those amongst the 242 people who chose to spoil their votes, congratulations. They have ended up with someone they didn’t choose, and they have caused half of Potong Pasir to end up with someone whom they didn’t want to choose. I guess it turns out that we end up being the ones who have to “live and repent” for the next five years. I am very sad now, but I live in the hope that they will be back. =)

  34. I stay in Potong Pasir too! Your photos so nicely potray the cosiness of our little town! Geylang Serai looks more like a slum!

  35. Hi Alvin. Thank you for presenting Potong Pasir so well:) I’ve been living in PP since I was born. Potong Pasir is a peaceful n quiet town, except during elections haha…Different from popular belief, it is definitely not a slum. Those who said so probably never set foot on PP. Much as I want to keep Potong Pasir the way it is, the results have spoken for itself. Nonetheless , let us all wish Mr and Mrs Chiam the best n most importantly, take care of their health:)

  36. I am not a Potong Pasir resident but this simple yet beautiful post had me crying (still tearing while typing this comment).

    Thank you for posting this. Thank you for sharing. Potong Pasir is definitely not a slum, it’s a beautiful place.

  37. Thank you Alvin, I felt sad for mr chiam and those who chose to void their votes. It is really a pity that half of the residents never stood behind him when he took up the challenge to compete in GRC. That was the time that he needed most of the supports but that group of people chose to pick up the carrots.
    I am very proud of what mr chiam had done for potong pasir with the limited funds he had. And let us please keep a very close look out for what the PAP will do here. I want to see what kind of improvements they can contribute to potong pasir before it merge into other GRC. (well, i bet it will happen)
    Lastly, to those faithful potong pasir supporters behind mr chiam, you are always higher than those who voted for the PAP. I salute you all and mr chiam.

  38. Really thanks so much for sharing…I have not been to Potong Pasir my entire life till today. It brought tears to my eyes. Mr and Mrs Chiam deserve to win more than anyone else. Potong Pasir is their home. Potong Pasir is full of love. It’s the first time I see Mr and Mrs Chiam, they are really great people. Has been an honor for me to see them and shake hands. We love you, Mr and Mrs Chiam!

  39. Thanks for sharing.. I actually teared when I see your photos above, esp Mr Chiam – how old he has become, working so hard for all the people of Potong Pasir. Although I have never met him in person, I think he is the kind of MP Singaporeans want.. I say from the bottom of my heart, I respect and love him!

  40. Thanks for sharing. the photos show a very homely , peaceful side of S’pore, simple yet warm… which all the gaudy colours and frills of ” upgrading” is taking away… sigh… wish our blocks look like what u have in potong pasir , and not the cold showflat-like look i see day in day out now… PP, this is home truly , where i know i must be…

  41. I was born in anson the year jbj won the smc, and I rem the kampung spirit which prevailed in the 80s, this sense of pride in the neighbourhood. However, it was soon lost to pap, and “absorbed” into tanjong pagar grc in the 90s. No more soul and no more heart – and neighbourhood became colder. I sincerely hope potong pasir will not be another anson. I salute mr chiam’s 27 years of tireless work for Singapore and potong pasir, a true selfless gentleman, ordinary Singaporean with an unordinary spirit, going against all odds!

  42. Alvin, I came across your blog by chance..
    Thank you for sharing those priceless moments. I’m not a PP resident, nevertheless, it was a neighbourhood all so familiar to me, coz i used to give tuition there, 12 years ago.. twice a week at that so called “slum” somehow always made me calm, peaceful n most important of all, homey.. now thats what i call “this is home, truly”. It exudes such pride, non pretentious existence.. and yes.. i remembered feeling very happy to see a MacDonald there 😉
    Now and then.. whenever i passed by that familiar road… it always brings a smile on my face.
    I will bring my children there one of these days to have a “photo-taking session” with our HERO.
    Mr Chiam has fought and sacrificed a great deal for making PP what it is today.. I salute and adored him for his bravery… his sincerity in serving His Singaporean..
    And Sir Chiam See Tong… I am a Singaporean.. And I Love You….

  43. Thanks for the pictures; Mr Chiam will be missed. It’s not just PP but the whole of Singapore have lost a fighter & a champion for the weak! Good luck & farewell.

  44. hi hi

    Last time i stayed at PP …… too bad the address changed before the election comes n i have to vote elsewhere

    btw, the board of CST posted in the earlier pics…. where is it exactly located? is it near the CC area or its behind behind the Mac/Kopitiam area? i am guessing its behind the kopitiam area where last time when i stayed, there’s an optical shop, stationery shop behind… is that right? so long never went back so no idea if the shops changed but u said u grew up there so we should be staying ard same time too before i left as i also stayed in PP 2-3x the guy that came before Sitoh and until Sitoh came too…

  45. Though i have not lived in Potong Pasir b4, but i believe the Chiams will claim it back someday, can really tell tehy have done alot for the people there. PAP has alot to work on, until next election, it will be a fierce battle!

  46. Well, little other known facts throughout the course of Chiam’s mandate.

    PAP losing election 1: NTUC taken away (its okay we don’t need them anyway =)

    PAP losing election 2: POSB branch taken away (its okay we save more money =)

    PAP losing election 3: Reroute bus service 147 so that it does not feeder past Potong Pasir anymore. (Service 147 used to feeder from Hougang to Potong Pasir, like how 142 feeders around Toa Payoh and Potong Pasir)

    PAP losing election 4: Right after the threats of no upgrading of HDB nor its lifts (wax lyrical much, PAP?)

    PAP losing election 5: After GST was hiked, cost of living being too high and wages not proportioning to the people’s equity. As righteous a response the people of Potong Pasir could have held true to.

    PAP winning election 6: After the people who decided in their 30s they didnt need your stinking lifts… they are in their 60s now thanks to the long awaited political epiphany of the rest of Singapore (i call this virgin democratic lag). You were lucky to take us with your measly 78 votes and crawl past the legendary leader we have had all these years. (Chiam for President!)

    For your vehemence and maliciousness, you have fused the hearts of the people of Potong Pasir. 7 coffeeshops and 5 minimarts have sprouted to accomodate the Estate’s needs. We have a furniture store, bicycle kiosks, spectacle shops, handphone shops, 8 hair saloons, an aquarium, 4 tuition agencies, 2 music/dance schools, a daycare centre, 3 handyman DIY stores, 2 bakeries and 3 chinese medical halls, 5 GP clinics and plenty of HEART to go around. NONE of which are thanks to PAP, ever.

    In typical PAP pettiness, you had to dispute whether or not to name the MRT station built right in our estate zone “Potong Pasir” or “Senett Estate” after all that you’re done.

    Then you throw obstacles in Chiam’s way when he tried to fully fund Sheltered Walkways from the MRT to the nearest HDB walkways and make it difficult for him to use the saved up conservancy fee for the huge lift project he had by implementing your silly 10% Sink Fund rule: 10% of town council funds MAX can be used at any one time for any project subject to PAP approval, [dear PAP, wtf? its not even your money]

    Unlike the previously reported sink funds of town councils like Sembawang that have excesses of a few billion dollars with fund managers trying to roll your money, the prudent Potong Pasir estate has a measly amount.

    For someone like Chiam who needed a better bid for his lift project, that 10% rule basically stops him from executing anything unless you elitists approve, but i guess hedge funds, blue chips and commodities trading has the seal of your wanton approval.

    Come 2016, you shall witness vindication of our Kampong Potong Pasir pride, for you have done NOTHING in these 27 years that deems you worthy as Chiam’s equal nor you worthy of redemption as you wax richer and more depraved each day. The brilliance of his soul and ours tramples you underfoot as it shall once again.

    Looks like the only freak election result for GE 2011 is Potong Pasir.
    Singapore, whats taking you so long to achieve political rapture?

  47. Though i don’t live in singapore now but in switzerland, i wanna lend my support to Mr Chiam See Tong and potong pasirians. I am really so touched by the human spirit displayed. Thank you!

  48. I can feel the kampung spirit and see why Chiam See Tong is so well liked by his Potong Pasir residents over the last 27 years.

  49. My family and neighbours have stayed in Pontong Pasir for over 30 years. However, there many dirty spots in and around the estate which ALVIN did not show you.
    Where are the pictures of old folks in search for the lifts. Or they choose to stay in door because there is no lifts available. These elderly need lifts and they are suffering in silence. A sad old town indeed.

  50. hey, loved the article
    i went to potong pasir just last week and was quite upset to see that Mr Chiam’s picture on the signboard had been removed. but overall i really like the feel of the town, very quaint and peaceful…
    but just wanna ask if potong pasir residents actually feel that way too – you know, now that it’s Mr Sitoh and not Mr Chiam do yall feel like the entire neighbourhood feels different? or maybe you feel like you’re not as attached to the place… idk just asking haha

  51. Dear Alvin, Like several other commenters, I came across this blog post by chance – well, not altogether by chance since I did run a google search for Potong Pasir. I am a mei guo ang moh who lived in Potong Pasir for a couple of years and, along with my then-wife, owned a flat on the second floor of the flagship flat block, which I was very pleased to see featured in a couple of your lovely photos. I loved Potong Pasir and its residents, made many friends there whom I have not forgotten, and long with all my heart to return. I’ve never been happier anywhere than in Singapore. By the way, I wonder if Evelyn is still delivering the mail at Potong Pasir? And if Steve is still running Promax Stationary? And if Laksmi still has her tuition center around the corner from the big coffee shop and next door to the aquarium/fish store? If you run into any of these folks, please remember me to them. They were all very kind to me. And if they’d like to write to me, you have my permission to give them my e-mail address.Thanks again. Best wishes to you. Sincerely, George Dahl

  52. I live in Potong Pasir too. Mr. Sitoh Yipin, pls don’t ever change our estate colour to garish candy colours like in sengkang and elsewhere!

  53. I chanced upon this post and it brought back memories.

    TIME Flies.

    Apart from the new condos, I am still awaiting the positive changes.

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