SINGAPORE - His fingers brushing a crystal ball, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave the official cue on Saturday to start the building of a community club that will be the first of its kind.
The Ci Yuan Community Club in Hougang Avenue 9 will be the first in Singapore to have a hawker centre.
When completed in 2015, its 40 stalls will operate under a taller-than-normal, two-storey-high ceiling that will ensure a light and airy feel even when every one of the 640 seats is taken.
The 6,000 sq m club will also have a theatre fitted with digital sound equipment from the China company that produced the acoustics for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
But it is the promise of hawker food at their doorstep that has caught the attention of residents who now travel 20 minutes by bus to Kovan for such fare.
They were brimming with ideas on Saturday on the kind of food they favour.
Said Mr David Lim, 40, a broadcast systems integrator: "Wanton mee from Joo Chiat, lor mee from Bukit Ho Swee and fish head noodles from Clementi West.
"These will bring back memories as my family talk about them over dinner. It will make the neighbourhood unique."
Housewife Toh Mui Kee, 60, prefers "healthier options" such as vegetarian meals and double-boiled soup as well as Teochew porridge.
The decision to locate the hawker centre in the club is part of a plan to provide facilities-in-demand under one roof, said Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, the MP for the area, which is in the Ang Mo Kio GRC led by PM Lee.
Hence, the club will have a medical clinic, a care centre for seniors and, possibly, a centre for children with special needs.
Together, these will bring convenience to residents, add vibrancy and make use of space efficiently, said Mr Yeo who, in overseeing the design, sussed out the aptness of the acoustics in Guangzhou.
As a result, the sound in the 500-seat theatre can be changed digitally, at the press of a button, to suit a concert, movie screening, play or a town-hall event, he added.
It could be a draw for polytechnic student Riyan Khairulanwar, who prefers hanging out with his friends at Hougang 1 mall.
"If they invite hip hop or rock bands to perform, I will go to the CC," said the 17-year-old.
Meanwhile, PM Lee, in a Facebook posting last Saturday night, drew attention to the excavator operator who responded to his cue during the ground-breaking ceremony.
He said: "Met the skilled excavator operator who actually dug the first scoop of soil. He hails from Tamil Nadu in India, and he's been working in Singapore for 18 years. Grateful to him and the many more like him who help us to build our CCs, homes, roads and train lines."
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