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Continuity is key in Potong Pasir: Sitoh

PAP incumbent says he has no intention to replace or replicate Chiam See Tong's 27-year legacy in estate

Mr Sitoh says he only asks pertinent and relevant questions in Parliament, focusing on issues that directly affect the lives of his Potong Pasir residents.


CONTINUITY is key in Potong Pasir, the People's Action Party's (PAP) incumbent at the single member constituency (SMC), Sitoh Yih Pin, said on Wednesday on the last day of the General Election rallies.

The estate may have seen many changes and improvements since 2011, but there will be more enhancements to amenities in the next five years.

For instance, the current Potong Pasir fitness gym will be expanded and another gym will be added in Lorong 8 Toa Payoh; CCTVs will be installed in all HDB flats; a free 40-seater shuttle bus service will be chartered to ply nine bus stops around the estate to take residents to the MRT station, among other things. (The latter is a cost-sharing collaboration with a private property developer.)

These are among the 22 new items listed in his 2015 Manifesto to fulfil. In 2011, he had 23 items but outdid his target and delivered 120 projects and programmes, he noted.

Recently, Mr Sitoh overheard a Singapore People's Party (SPP) supporter saying that since the upgrading has all been done, the opposition can now just sweep in. "Actually, it is not like that. Because yes, the structure is up ... but there are many, many more details we have to do," he added.

On talk that Potong Pasir's kampung spirit has eroded since the estate changed hands, Mr Sitoh said he has always tried to maintain the charm and character there.

"Having a kampung spirit does not mean that we have to live in a kampung. Kampung spirit is about the community spirit. You must cheer for one another, care for one another and be happy with one another."

To this end, the town council has organised community events and installed a programme to deliver basic necessities to less well-off families.

On rival Lina Chiam's comment that if she had been given the money that Mr Sitoh had, she could also do wonders, Mr Sitoh clarified that while he did get resources from the government, so did the opposition wards in Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East.

"But what many people do not know is that apart from the Ah Gong funding, we actually had to raise substantial sums of money on our own."

He added that it was also not simply a matter of financial resources. Lobbying and meeting with the various governmental agencies is also important, and he has had more than 500 meetings with various agencies over the past four years in order to get things done and broker a middle ground between the authorities and residents.

Responding to topics raised by Mrs Chiam at her rally on Tuesday, such as the fact that she had raised more questions in Parliament than him in the past four years, Mr Sitoh wryly replied with an analogy about Jackie Chan's movies. He pointed out that the Hong Kong star only makes one movie a year, but it's always a box-office hit. "My point is we have to look at the quality of questions asked ... I don't talk for the sake of talking."

He said that he only asks pertinent and relevant questions in Parliament, focusing on issues such as the elderly, healthcare and on municipal matters that directly affect the lives of his Potong Pasir residents.

Mr Sitoh won Potong Pasir on his third try by a mere 114 votes in 2011, when SPP chief Chiam See Tong left the ward he held since 1984 to contest the neighbouring Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

Mr Sitoh said Mr Chiam's 27-year legacy in Potong Pasir is intact and, to rousing applause, added: "I have no intention to replace it, and I have no intention to replicate it."