17 July 2011.
I learned 2 words today.
The plan was to meet on 1230pm at the POSB, Toa Payoh Central for lunch. I was 10 minutes early but fellow supporters were there before me. Not long after, Mr Sindu came with his caregiver, Ms V R Sara, and friends. Ms Sara was a long time friend of Dr Tan Cheng Bock for more than 3 decades. With Sidhu's mobile disability, he would still encourage Dr Tan’s activity, not by mouth but to come on ground with us.
Almost everyone living around Toa Payoh would come to this place for a scroll in for lunch or activities. Looking among the crowd, I saw Dr Tan and his wife walked towards us. Immediately, the crowd turned their attention towards us, even the main attraction on the hall was the indoor kite flying exhibition.
Passerby stopped their routine and came to our crowd, trying to stretch their hands to greet Doc. Young family having their Sunday off scrolling the shopping center, saw us and wanted to take picture with President and First Lady hopeful, and would proudly post it on their facebook. Shop owners, hawkers and lunch crowds would place down what ever was on their hand, stood up to feel the texture of a President to be’s hand.
One came over and said,
I know you! I used to see you in your clinic when I was very young.
The lady was in her late 30s was very glad that she could see Dr Tan again.
Another one was an elderly man in his early 70s, limping on a walking stick. I saw him walking very fast from the rear, squeezing in between the crowd and appeared in front of Dr Tan:
Cheng Bock, nice to see you here!
I talked to this elderly and found out that he was Dr Tan’s senior when they were in Raffles Institution. I wondered it must be a very small school because after graduating half a century ago, this elderly still remembered Dr Tan even they were not in the class. Later he disclosed to me that they were living in the same kampong when they were young.
We also witness members of public came forward and told Dr Tan:
I know you, Dr Tan Cheng Bock. I used to stay in Teban Garden. You were my MP.
Some even step forward to greet him, even not staying under Dr Tan’s constituency, like Bukit Batok, West Coast, knew the existence of him. I could see that these people have something in common. They were very glad to see Dr Tan again on the street and want to come forward to greet him.
There must be something that Dr Tan did, leaving deep memories to these people. Either he had prescribed them with a wrong medicine or they had helped them in some way that they had remembered for life.
There was a key maker at Toa Payoh. He said,
Yes, last time I was staying at ‘Yung Toh Hng’ (Chinese dialect for Starfruit Garden,
which is the existing Teban Garden).
The journey from POSB to Mac Donald’s became an hour’s toddle, which I could walk in 5 minutes. It was these citizens that remembered Dr Tan that made him wanted to meet more. He told me he was a little tired because he spent 3 hours in the morning, walked the railway track from 10 Mile Junction to King Albert Park with his buddy, Chiu San.
He smiled and told me:
We were a little ambitious.
Chiu San laughed. I could smell that these 2 elders had a little adventure this morning.
I asked Doc why in Toa Payoh, he could meet so many people that had known him for good? This is not Teban Garden or Lim Chu Kang. Sometimes, even at Bedok, he would meet familiar people on street that were rejoiced upon seeing him. He explained to me about the word, Diaspora. Doc quoted that these people that he met were the diaspora from Teban Garden and especially Ama Keng, when this village was taken back by the authority.
What was the 2nd word that I learn? It came from the key maker.
After the lunch when everyone parted, Sam and I went back to the key maker and asked him why did he remembered Dr Tan? I watched him duplicating a set of key for an elderly and refused to accept his money. He then turned to me and said,
I remember in Yung Toh Hng, i studied at Huai Nan Primary School. I was primary 3. Yes, Teban community was well known and strong in supporting charity, with Dr Tan Cheng Bock. He was one of the good MP in Singapore that we could remember. He was one of the very few MP that can:
This was the second word that I learned.
It was my 6th time meeting Doctor Tan Cheng Bock and his wife.