Mending a broken Potong Pasir

Posted on 11 May 2011

Sitoh Yih Pin remains silent while police try to disperse petitioners in Potong Pasir.

By Fang Shihan

Sitoh Yih Pin has some very large shoes to fill

THE show ain’t over till the fat cat sings. It’s been 3 days since Potong Pasir was lost to PAP man Sitoh Yih Pin and still, the former opposition bastion seethes with indignation. It’s not difficult to see why this would be the case: Sitoh won by a mere 114 votes, or 50.36%.

The winner could have been either party had the 242 spoilt votes been properly cast. Or if the rumors that after including overseas voters, the winning margin was only 79 votes, were true.

Potong Pasir’s split along political loyalties – between the Chiams who’ve served the longtime residents for a good 27 years, and any PAP man who’ll dispense infrastructure upgrades like Santa Claus.

Since the ol’ fort fell, various pages have been set up on Facebook in support of Chiam, including one petition calling for a re-election (http://www.facebook.com/PotongPasirPetition). The petition has nearly 14,000 likes at this point.

Beyond a Facebook page, the organizers have also called for residents to sign a physical petition at Block 108, where Chiam’s Meet the People’s sessions used to be held. This message spread via Facebook as well as SMS.

According to one resident, Tim (not his real name), a crowd of less than 50 people were peacefully gathered outside the office around 630pm on Tuesday. The crowd consisted of residents, former residents and supporters of Chiam who had travelled down to sign the petition.

Yet when he tried looking for the petition, all he saw was a piece of paper was pasted on Chiam’s table, stating that the petition was cancelled for the day.

photo courtesy of Faris Mokhtar of Yahoo News

This was apparently because the police had been visiting the area every half hour, asking the crowd to disperse since 4pm. There was no riot van (the big red one) present but 8 white police vans and a few traffic police motorbikes were spotted.

When New Nation called one of the organisers at 815pm, she denied that the petition was seized, though the campaign was now restricted only to the residents of Potong Pasir. Non-residents were advised not to come down.

Now with the facts established, you’re probably wondering: what’s the fuss about? Elections are over so shouldn’t people move on?

Put it this way. Sitoh Yih Pin is a difficult man to like. Especially if you’ve been a longtime resident of Potong Pasir. After the results were announced, he thanked the residents for giving him a “strong mandate of more than 50%”, and subsequently went on to deride Chiam supporters by saying “for those who didn’t vote for me, please cooperate” in another speech.

No transcripts of these juicy bites can be found so you’ll have to take New Nation Man’s word for it. Because he watches a lot of local TV.

Residents who were present during the 2006 elections would also remember the street lamps that were built, and then left unrepaired when Sitoh lost the battle, leaving in a huff. Even longer-term residents would recall the NTUC supermarket that was yanked from the estate when the constituency fell to Chiam, and the bus services that were discontinued.

If you’ve been in Potong Pasir your whole life, you’d hate the PAP for their discrimination, and you’d worship Chiam for his village chief attitude towards even the most menial of things, like clearing the rubbish with the residents.

But the votes have spoken, and 50.36% of Potong Pasir has voted for Sitoh to be the next chief. The man has some huge shoes to fill, and nearly half the local population to charm over.

For a start, he’ll get some massive street cred by doing his MPS at the ramshackle void deck that Chiam has been using. Then maybe follow up by chillin’ at the hawker centre with a cold beer before overseeing the cleaning of rubbish personally. Unlike other PAP constituencies, merely kissing babies just doesn’t cut it in the former opposition stronghold. Respect must be earned.

If that’s not enough, Sitoh could also extend an olive branch by enlisting Chiam as consultant-at-large. After all, like George Yeo in Aljunied, the man has years of experience running the town and would be an invaluable resource. This could potentially save Sitoh from a lot of embarrassment as Chiam knows what flies in the town (keeping S&C charges low, keeping the kampung spirit, rustic environment and unique identity), and what doesn’t (multi-million dollar shopping centres, promenades and facelifts into facelessness).

More importantly, Sitoh must understand that wounds must be healed. He has not spoken a word since yesterday and one can only assume he’s waiting for the tide to blow over before plonking his ass in town, expecting all to be hunky dory.

The silence sir, is haunting.

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  • Something to consider

    This shows something:

    For Mr and Mrs Chiam, they are both second in ballot, but first in the residents’ hearts.

  • Anonymous Coward

    I like how the picture of Sitoh shows him being surrounded by PAP folks instead of residents while Chiam’s photos online are usually surrounded by residents of Potong Pasir.

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  • no

    Your views are too slanted! Try writing objectively about Mr Chiam, Mrs Chiam and also Mr Sitoh. Don’t put one in the limelight and another in contempt.

    I have stayed here long enough to see the polyclinic, post office, posb branch, ntuc fairprice and bus terminus come and go.

    It’s not the end of the world like the way you put it.

    The PAP train has arrived at Potong Pasir MRT, that can bring us to all facilities.

    How Mr Sitoh has his team, hedoes not need to use the ramshackle blk 108 pathetic place, he can do his MPS more effectively, for sure.

    Just keep your eyes and ears wide open!

    And take photos all round, cos Potong Pasir is in for a massive transformation!

    • Anonymous Coward

      Not the end of the world but you gotta admit, Chiam did an excellent job against all that odds stacked against him.

  • Potong Pasir Resident of 20 years

    I’m sorry. Ur post is grossly biased against Mr Sitoh. I’m pro-opposition but ur facts are based on hearsay that has been floating around since donkey years ago.

    The only thing I can’t be sure is the comments Mr Sitoh made after he won bur u can’t prove that either. Saying u watch a lot of TV doesn’t cut it.

    Don’t be another predictable blogger by being pro-opposition because u can get more eyeballs.

  • ALAN ANG

    I live in Potong Pasir for 25 years. There is nothing to be proud of this ” my kind of town “. We have lost 10 years of estate renewal under Chiam See Tong. Potong Pasir is in the heart of Singapore. For those want who remain laid back, please shift to Pulau Ubin.

    Potong Pasir need change and those who needed lifts will appreciated PAP.

    Come on, wake up old sleepy town…… and the old beetle.. you lost the race.

    • terence

      so you would vote for the PAP even though they are the ones who put PP last in priority for estate upgrading?

      • Something to consider

        For me, yes. Because I have the freedom to believe in what the other residents in my estate don’t – that there is a party that represents the interests of a better Singapore. Practically, this is not possible in most governments, but I do not think Mr Chiam or his wife is able to represent my interests if I were a Potong Pasir resident.

        I need a sustainable government that works for the long run, and that I try my best to involve myself in the decision-making process, which I believe PAP will do their best to listen.

    • Rango

      @Alan

      Your wish came true , you pro-PAP fellow. I lived in PP too. I loved the town being serene and peaceful. Let’s see whether PP will turned into a circus fiesta town for MIW or remain the CHARMS of old times with only facade upgrading. 5 years down the road, you may change your mind and move out of PP.

      • Something to consider

        I’m afraid he can’t do so – Potong Pasir will be in a GRC.

        • Rango

          @ Something to consider

          Thank you. You are right about this…..Sigh….

          • Something to consider

            I am sure Potong Pasir residents who voted against SPP/the old TPL will repent not having Potong Pasir as their kind of town. But to the greater scheme of things, look at Goodview Gardens of Bukit Gombak.

            Vote PAP in, their lives are improved, though not in the way they want. They got new schools, buses (though not to Upper Bukit Timah, what a pity), access to MRT and access to nature, too.

            I am not sure whether Potong Pasir will be a circus. I am sure, though, that Potong Pasir will be a better place, for their own good, in their own ways.

  • ALAN ANG

    Contest was between PAP Sitoh, Accountant 47 and SPP Lina, nurse 62 .

    Lina is still branding herself as Chiam and hid under her husband. It was a sham watching her in the CNA political forum and at the rallies. She got no speaking skill, no general knowledges and cannot speak Mandarin. Please put her in a rejected Taiwanese game show.

    My house value sure drop further in Potong Pasir.

    How to be a NCMP at 62.

    • Something to consider

      To me, it’s a wonder why the Tin Pei Ling of opposition politics can lose by only 100+ votes. And I believe Eric Tan or Nicole Seah would be a better NCMP than Mrs Chiam.

      Bye-bye Potong Pasir! Next elections, your MP will most likely be Mrs Josephine Teo – Mr Sitoh’s role is over if his ward is absorbed to the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, which can make room for a few extra polling stations for its 5 MPs.

      • Rango

        Rite on, @ something to consider

        The legendary town of PP will be gone. History of this town will be re-written. PP is either part of Bishan-Toa Payoh or Kallang/Moulmein GRC. Or added empire to Marine Parade GRC.

        • Something to consider

          Part of Edwin Tong’s territory? Or the real Tin Pei Ling… Oh my.

    • Rango

      Stop bickering about Lina. You ain’t better yourself.

      Stand in the GE yourself and prove your worth.

      You have no guts to pit against the Chiams Factor. Only after your 25 years then you decided to speak up after MIW won.

      • Something to consider

        Singapore’s General Election rules are more stringent than other countries, like Australia. I don’t know how can I stand without a party platform? And as you know, even if I am a PAP member, I cannot contest for them because they have all the checks to screen candidates that best fit their interests.

        • Rango

          Sorry my friend

          The last comment “Stop bickering about Lina. You ain’t better yourself.” was for Alan.

  • Something to consider

    Potong Pasir is now history, but most probably people will not forget Potong Pasir the way they didn’t forget Anson and JBJ. But for now, PAP is status quo, and we tried hard to keep it through our votes (on 7 May 2011).

  • http://yahoo Justine

    For goodness sake all of you dudes, give the new MP a chance and stop all these bickerings. There are more to life than moping over the ‘Lost Chiams’.Be gracious , there is no need to make life difficult for the PAP. What wrongs have Mr Sitoh done to you to receive these adverse remarks? Please grow up.

    • Something to consider

      Mr Sitoh served there for 10 years, and I’d gladly support him if he were my MP. However, his opponent represents a ‘different’ Singapore from a conventional one, which most Potong Pasir residents desired to keep for almost 27 years. And I watched a video that there’d been no lift upgrading in the estate (forgot the link), the lifts are left as they are and not fixed. That’s what the Town Council could do without enough charges on the residents, imo.

      Note even Hougang are thinking of new lifts for all, though.

  • ALAN ANG

    Looking at Lina holding Chiam’s hand to canvass vote during the election compaign is like looking at a auntie holding an old blind man sell package of tissues paper at a hawker centres. There is some similarity of sympathy votes. No offense Lina.

  • Something to consider

    Hope you will say the same things when Potong Pasir changes in the next 5 years. I expect great changes beyond my imagination.

    • KWM

      The only change will be the electoral boundary. Nothing else will change.

      • Roxanne Lee

        Then how to differentiate PP from Hougang?

  • Alfred Seetoh

    Having lost in 2 consecutive elections and he is back again (and win this time)that is courage – Never say die! Look at Ng Pok Too and Mah Bow Tan who ran to another ward and their loss – that is useless.
    The high vote for Mrs Chiam is mainly sympethatic votes for Mr Chiam See Tong – he is a good man.

    • Something to consider

      Indeed – I know Mr Ng Pock Too lost twice… Will Mah suffer the same fate too?

  • Mr K

    Right….And I believe Potong Pasir might be even more closer to Toa Payoh area…..So,that will be absorbed directly into Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC the next time around….
    But it seems much clearer enough that Lor 8 Toa Payoh’s even more closer to Toa Payoh East,so fairly enough he will have to take care of the residents there and not only Lor 8 but also the whole Toa Payoh East….Menawhile,Josephine Teo could stand in Potong Pasir under a new GRC created alongside mostly Serangoon area,and she will be leading a 4 member team…Lina Loh may have then lead the SPP team against hers,which includes a certain member,Dr Intan Azura and also a newbie….Coincidentially,Potong Pasir,Serangoon Gardens,Jalan Kayu and also Braddell Heights are just clustered up,and Sin Kek Tong;s been in favour of it,so this’ll be great news for him….Suggeting that Josephine may then lead an all woman PAP team to challenge Lina,Sin Kek Tong,Alex Tan and even a Malay,namely Juliana Juwahir…
    If PAP wins Seranggon GRC by close margin,I believe Bishan-Toa Payoh TC may take em as their very own,returning the nostalgia of Bishan-Serangoon Town Council,only with the whole Bishan,Toa Payoh,Potong Pasir and even Serangoon areas all under it,given the fact that Bishan is even much closeR to Serangoon area while Potong Pasir is even more closer to Toa Payoh,so if PAP wins it earlier,Toa Payoh may have then take it……
    Now that Potong Pasir is under the PAP,I’m sure Mr Sitoh may have then contribute a lot,even to renewal,and also the new addition to Bishan-Toa Payoh Town…..Hope that we wont forget this remarkable town even though it will be vanished in several GRCs by 2016….

    • Something to consider

      This looks geographically impossible, but who knows?

  • KWM

    I guess the fate of PP will be this. PP will be split into 2. Toa Payoh Lorong 8 will be absorbed into Bishan Toa Payoh GRC. The rest of PP will be absorbed into Kallang Moulein GRC.

    And people in PP will still have no other facilities, coz as many as half did not vote for PAP.

    For that “ALAN ANG”, please be more respectful to Mrs Chiam. If you are hankering for some upgrading programmes or some amenities, and therefore voted for PAP, that is fine. It is entirely your right to do so. But stop calling Mrs Chiam names. She, is far superior than TPL. At least she served PP residents for the past 27 years without monthly allowance of SGD15K.

    And what is so bad about nursing as a profession. Anyway, accountants are not that smart. Remember, when you think she performed badly in the CNA political discussion, she is squaring off against Tharman. For all you know, if she sqaured off against Sitoh, her performed might be better.

    • Roxanne Lee

      Don’t the Potong Pasir part feels closer to Bishan-Toa Payoh than Moulmein-Kallang, which could be potentially supporting opposition?

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