Hougang (Chinese: 后港, Tamil: ஹவ்காங்) is a planning area and residential town located in the North-East Region of Singapore. The town is the most populous in the region, being home to 222,310 residents. Hougang planning area is bordered by Sengkang to the north, Geylang to the south, Bedok to the southeast, Toa Payoh to the southwest, Paya Lebar to the east and Serangoon to the west.
Etymology and history
Hougang is the pinyin version of Aū-káng, a Hokkien and Teochew name meaning "river end", as Hougang is located upstream or at the back of Sungei Serangoon. In the past, the name connoted the area stretching from the fifth milestone junction of Upper Serangoon Road and Upper Paya Lebar Road/Boundary Road to the seventh and a half milestone junction of Upper Serangoon Road and Punggol Road. The area just beyond the seventh milestone along Punggol Road was formerly considered part of Punggol but is now within Hougang Town and that section of Punggol Road is now Hougang Avenue 8, with Punggol Road starting further north.
Pig farming was carried out in Punggol, including the area of Punggol that is now part of Hougang Town. The last of these pig farmers were relocated by the late-1990s to flats built in Hougang. Today, Hougang is an HDB new town with over 40,000 housing units interspersed with pockets of private residential areas.
There was also a fishing port at the end of Upper Serangoon Road beyond the seventh milestone.
At Hougang Street 21, there was a well that is still identified as the tua jia kha (大井脚) well structure. This well identified the Teochew village of tua jia kha 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.
Hougang has been developed since 1977 with the construction of Tampines Way. Further development has been made for the development of new neighbourhoods in Neighbourhood 1 - 3 by 1983, Neighbourhood 4 - 7 by 1992. Neighbourhood 8 is the city centre of the Hougang, completed in 1994. Neighbourhood 9 has been in the recent and has been completed by 2000.
In 2015, project named Hougang Capeview, a Build-To-Order project at Upper Serangoon Road, is the first public housing project to receive the CONQUAS Star, an accolade administered by the Building and Construction Authority. Hougang Capeview, which comprises 781 residential units in six blocks at Upper Serangoon Road, received a Construction Quality Assessment System (CONQUAS) score of more than 95, above the national average of 88.2. The CONQUAS score is BCA’s measure of construction quality across Singapore.
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 malls such as Hougang Mall, Kang Kar Mall, Heartland Mall, Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre and Hougang1.
Similar to most other residential towns in Singapore, Hougang was designed to be a partially self-sufficient with enough amenities to minimize the number of residents commuting to the Central Area. Facilities include Hougang Sports Hall, an indoor sports complex operated by Sport Singapore which runs ClubFITT membership and sports programmes, Hougang stadium home to S.League club Hougang United, an aquatics centre, 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.
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. This bus interchange was officially opened on 17 February 1995 by former cabinet minister Goh Chee Wee, who was then Senior Minister of State for Communications, Trade and Industry to serve all buses around the Hougang Area. Its sister bus interchange, Hougang South Bus Interchange (that is near to Kovan MRT station) ceased operations in 2004 and was converted to Kovan Hub.
Two even older bus terminals operated in Hougang before the construction of the Hougang Central and Hougang South Bus Interchanges. One was at the end of Upper Serangoon Road in Kangkar Village, which was replaced by Hougang Central, while the other was at the sixth and a half milestone of Upper Serangoon Road, which was replaced by Hougang South.
A distinctive feature of Hougang lies in the large semi-circular balconies which occur in many Housing and Development Board public housing flats in the area. This feature is not as prevalent in public housing outside Hougang.
Hougang belongs to five political divisions in four different constituencies. A portion belongs to Hougang Single Member Constituency, which is held by Png Eng Huat of the Worker's Party. The seat was left temporarily vacant from 15 February 2012 to 27 May 2012, when Yaw Shin Leong was expelled from the Workers' Party (WP). Yaw was one of six elected opposition Members of Parliament. It was previously held by Workers' Party secretary general Low Thia Khiang from 1991 to 2011. Low Thia Khiang is now the Member of Parliament for the Bedok Reservoir-Punggol division of Aljunied GRC, in the northern part of Hougang. Chen Show Mao is the Member of Parliament of Paya Lebar division, which contains the southern part of Hougang. Parts of Hougang fall under Ang Mo Kio GRC (Ang Mo Kio-Hougang, Jalan Kayu and Sengkang South constituencies).
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. Prominent members of the cabinet such as the then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong made numerous visits to the Group Representation Constituency to canvass for votes. 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, Chan Sek Keong, 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.
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. Later, in the 2011 election, Aljunied GRC would be ultimately won over by the Worker's Party.
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." However, Workers' Party received 54.72% of the vote, while People Action Party received merely 45.28%, the lowest vote in Aljunied GRC history. The Workers' Party won the Aljunied GRC election.
In the 2011 General Elections, Yaw from the Worker's Party won the seat for Hougang SMC against PAP's Desmond Choo, taking 64.81% of the valid votes. However, on 15 February 2012, Yaw was expelled from the Worker's Party due to allegations of extramarital affairs. A by-election was then called for 26 May 2012. Png Eng Huat of the Worker's Party and Desmond Choo of the People's Action Party ran for Hougang SMC. The Worker's Party retained Hougang SMC with a winning vote percentage of 62.09% and the People's Action Party garnered 37.91% of the votes, with Png elected as the Member of Parliament for Hougang SMC.
As for the southernmost portion of Hougang, Tai Seng, it is under the PAP's Marine Parade GRC and has largely stayed away from the activity in the north involving the WP and PAP. However, in the 2015 general elections, the WP decided to contest in the GRC itself, and as such the area has been dragged into the saga involving both parties. Also, as Tai Seng is an industrial area in Hougang, it is unlikely to have any voters that will influence the political scene in the town.
Template:As of, this area has a total of eight secondary schools, nine primary schools and Serangoon Junior College. Serangoon Junior College is closing in 2019 and merging with Anderson Junior College.
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- List of former bus stations in Singapore
- Aljunied Group Representation Constituency
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- School Information Service
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- Victor R Savage, Brenda S A Yeoh (2003), Toponymics - A Study of Singapore Street Names, Eastern Universities Press, Template:ISBN
- Hougang MRT Station
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