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Hougang is an urban planning area and a suburb in the north-eastern area of the city-state of Singapore. Under classification by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the area is part of the North-East Region, an urban planning division. Hougang borders Sengkang in the north and Serangoon to its south. Development started approximately around the 1980s. Most of Hougang is residential and encompasses the main Housing and Development Board's housing estate of Hougang New Town.

Image:Hougang Street 21, Dec 05.JPG
Hougang South, an old neighbourhood of Hougang New Town.


[edit] Etymology and history

Hougang is the pinyin version of Aū-káng, a Hokkien and Teochew name meaning "river end". In the past, the name connoted the area stretching from the fifth milestone junction of Yio Chu Kang Road and Serangoon Road to the seventh milestone confluence of Upper Serangoon Road and Tampines Road.

The area was once a large piece of forested land. Farming of pigs was also carried out by farmers. The last of these pig farmers were relocated by the mid-1990s to HDB flats built in Hougang. Today, it is a HDB new town with over 40,000 housing units interspersed with pockets of private residential areas.

At Hougang Street 21, there was a well that is still identified as the tua jia ka well structure. This well identified the Teochew village of tua jia ka which means the "foot of a big well". In the past, the village was a popular place for food, street wayangs, itinerant Chinese medicine men and story tellers spinning yarns.

[edit] Amenities

Image:Hougang Mall, Nov 05.JPG
Hougang Mall Shopping Centre
Image:Singapore hougang mall 2002.jpg
Another view of Hougang Mall Shopping Centre, before renovation

Hougang is regarded as part of the "heartland" of Singapore, a significant distance away from the Central Area. Most of its commercial activity is centred on a few shopping centres such as Hougang Mall, Heartland Mall and Hougang Festival Market.

Similar to most other residential towns in Singapore, Hougang was designed to be a partially self-sufficient with enough amenities to minimise residents commuting to the Central Area. Facilities include a sports stadium where the S.League plays, an aquatics centre, an indoor sports complex, a number of parks such as Punggol Park, along with many wet markets and hawker centres. One of the more prominent landmarks in Hougang is the Buangkok Green Medical Park, which houses several medical facilities including the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and Singapore Leprosy Relief Association (SILRA). Hougang is served by two MRT stations: Hougang MRT Station which is located beside the bus interchange and Hougang Mall; and Kovan MRT Station which is beside Heartland Mall. Residents in Buangkok bordering Sengkang have the option of using Buangkok MRT Station as well.

[edit] Hougang Central Bus Interchange

The Hougang Central Bus Interchange serves Hougang Town with a range of bus services going to other parts of the island. It is located in Hougang Central, near Hougang Mall and it has an underground link to Hougang MRT Station.

The services departing from Hougang Central Bus Interchange and their destinations are listed as follows:

A feeder service is also available, linking residents to the town centre.

  • Majority of Hougang except Hougang South - 325

Hougang South Bus Interchange was closed a few years ago when the authorities acquired it for other developments. It was situated next to the Kovan food centre, near Heartland Mall. Bus services operating from there included:

  • Jurong East - 51
  • Geylang - 62 (now from Punggol to Geylang)
  • Bukit Merah - 132
  • Kent Ridge - 151
  • Feeder Services 321, 322, 326, 327 and 328 (merged to form Service 101 from Serangoon to Buangkok)

The old bus station is now a public carpark and private terminal for express buses. Four bus services currently serve the bus stop there:

  • Hougang - 115
  • Hougang Central - 112, 113
  • Sengkang - 119

[edit] Highlights

A distinctive feature of Hougang lies in the large semi-circular balconies which occur in many Housing Development Board public housing flats in the area. This feature is not as prevalent in public housing outside Hougang.

[edit] Political history

Hougang belongs to five political divisions in three different constituencies. A portion belongs to Hougang Single Member Constituency which is held by Workers' Party secretary general Low Thia Kiang since 1991, it is embedded within Aljunied Group Representation Constituency. Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo is the Member of Parliament for Bedok Reservoir-Punggol division of Aljunied GRC, in the nothern part of Hougang. Yeo Guat Kuang is the Member of Parliament for the Aljunied-Hougang division of the GRC which includes the town centre of the new town. Cynthia Phua is the Member of Parliament of Paya Lebar division, that is the southern part of Hougang. A small portion of Hougang is located at Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency.

In the 1997 general election, Cheng San Group Representation Constituency which comprises large parts of Hougang was the scene of an intense battle between the ruling People's Action Party and the opposition team led by Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam and Tang Liang Hong of the Workers' Party (WP). Prominent members of the cabinet such as the then Senior Minister Lee Kwan Yew and then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong made numerous visits to the Group Representation Constituency to canvass. The vote was deemed too close to call such that the PAP thought it necessary for ministers to visit the polling stations on voting day. The opposition later charged that the PAP had violated the law which prohibits politicians from being in the vicinity of a polling station but the Attorney-General found no impropriety on the part of the ministers as the law only prohibits politicians from the vicinity of the polling station but not in the polling station itself.

Cheng San GRC was broken apart in the 2001 elections and the larger part of Hougang currently falls under the Aljunied GRC. Critics have lashed out at this blatant attempt of gerrymandering. The remainder falls under the political constituency ward with the same name, Hougang SMC, currently held by Low Thia Khiang from the opposition WP who is one of only two opposition Members of Parliament.

Hougang appeared in the limelight again in the 2006 general election. Both Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC were contested by the Workers' Party, with the latter being defended by the three-term incumbent, Low Thia Khiang, who is the WP's secretary-general. Once again, like the 1997 general election, WP won in Hougang, with Low securing his place in Parliament with 63% of the votes, an increase of more than 8 percentage point from 2001. Aljunied GRC was narrowly held onto by the People's Action Party with a slim 12% lead over the WP team who gained 44% of the votes.

It is widely believed that Hougang residents of the GRC had leaned towards the WP, with one PAP MP-elect describing the counting process as "tense", saying that the vote tally was about "a one-to-one ratio when the counting first starting, and we got worried." Nonetheless, this swing towards the opposition was neutralised by the strong PAP showing in other parts of the GRC, such as Bedok Reservoir and Eunos. Another PAP MP-elect remarked that "we received well over 60% of the vote in Malay-majority Eunos". Sylvia Lim, the de facto leader of the WP's team, subsequently accepted the NCMP seat.

[edit] Language

Many of the Singaporean Chinese residents in Hougang speak the Teochew language, because they were originally from Kampong Ponggol, a predominantly Teochew community, before they were relocated to Hougang as Singapore began developing. However, this is becoming less of a trend as the newer residents come from all over the island.

[edit] Schools

Junior Colleges

Secondary Schools

Primary Schools

[edit] Reference

  • Victor R Savage, Brenda S A Yeoh (2003), Toponymics - A Study of Singapore Street Names, Eastern Universities Press, ISBN 981-210-205-1

[edit] See also

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