SINGAPORE — Workers’ Party MP Louis Chua reminded Parliament on Tuesday (Jan 10) that “home is where the heart is.” The Workers’ Party has called for a revival of convenience and coffee shops, where the HDB should allocate a portion of void deck space to provide for at least one coffee shop for every two precincts.
“Many residents have often shared with me and my fellow Sengkang MPs about the lack of coffee shops and everyday conveniences in their neighbourhood. Within my Rivervale division, for example, while it is great that Rivervale Plaza and Rivervale Mall provide various retail offerings for those living in the immediate vicinity, there is only one coffeeshop and one convenience store in the entire division.”
This is potentially difficult for people who are older or for whom there are challenges in mobility, such as those who are disabled.
“Having a meal or buying groceries can be quite a troublesome affair requiring the use of public or private transport,” he said, adding, “If my childhood was spent living in present-day Sengkang compared to Ang Mo Kio where I lived, I wouldn’t have been able to buy lunch for myself!”
He urged the Housing and Development Board to look at neighbourhoods or precincts “such as Sengkang, which are currently underserved. Mr Chua also suggested that the unused parts of Multi-Storey Carparks or MSCP could allow commercial spaces, even if these would not be allowed for coffee shops.
“To take it one step further, the HDB could even offer low-rent commercial spaces allocated by ballot to stimulate microbusinesses, social enterprise, and entrepreneurship in the heartlands,” he added.
“Coffee shops and convenience shops are community spaces that allow residents to meet their everyday needs and foster ties with their neighbours while also being an integral part of our heartland culture and should be more actively promoted,” the MP said.
Mr Chua, who has been representing the Rivervale division of Sengkang GRC since 2020, voiced his support for the HDB Amendment Bill, noting that the bill’s attention is centred on facilitating the upgrading of existing heartland shops.
“At the heart of our public housing estates are our heartland retailers and hawker centres, which play an integral role in our lives throughout one’s life stages,” the Sengkang GRC MP said, recalling with fondness his growing up years in Ang Mo Kio, saying that there, “the unassuming neighbourhood centre had almost everything that we needed.” /TISG
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