WHEN Mr Low Ser Hui was growing up in Punggol in the 1960s, it was largely an area of pig farms and squatters - but it was home. With marriage and a move with his new family to Pasir Ris, he made the decision to return 12 years ago when plans to turn it into a residential new town were announced.
"When we moved back, it was not exactly a jewel," said Mr Low, 50, who works in sales. "But there were big plans for it, and it was exciting to see it grow. "There's been a tremendous change; it's a place I have no regrets coming back to."
Its growth was one of the key themes at the opening of Punggol North's latest community club, the Punggol 21 CC.
Mr Low was one of 3,000 residents and grassroots leaders who packed the floors of the four-storey CC for its opening by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.
In his speech, PM Lee congratulated Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Penny Low and grassroots leaders who helped shape the development of Punggol New Town since its inception in 2001 - the year Ms Low was elected.
"They started from scratch. It was a brand new town. They had to set up everything: the Residents' Committees, the network, the facilities; not enough buses, not enough childcare centres, not enough schools - so many problems. But they worked at it year after year, and consistently, and I think they have got it more or less arriving now."
But infrastructure and facilities aside, he said that for Punggol to be a success, "we need also the spirit of togetherness amongst the residents. And I know the residents are working together in order to make it work".
The CC along Punggol Field serves residents of Punggol North with facilities that include a SingPost branch, the HDB branch office, a Eu Yan Sang TCM clinic and a McDonald's outlet.
It also has mural walls with 10,000 tiles drawn on and coloured by residents, and a heritage wall depicting the area's history. Ms Low said the opening was another chapter in Punggol's growth and was made possible through collaboration: "Punggol 21 CC is a product of our 'all hands on deck' approach.
"As our new town developed and grew, residents, merchants, grassroots leaders thought it was timely to work together as one to build a community space that also embraces the unique history and culture of this area."
Punggol resident Sharon Ow, 40, is pleased with the facilities, saying: "The facilities are good, but I hope to see more services offered, like childcare and affordable after-school services."
This article was first published on May 11, 2015.
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