by Suresh Nair
Louis Ng Kok Kwang believes in walking the talk.
Simply put, this newly-minted Member of Parliament (MP) for Nee Soon GRC wants a real feel of the ground.
He dares to be different from other parliamentarians and soon after the General Elections, he announced that, every month from November 2015, he would temporarily step away from his MP post for a variety of work stints.
Driver, cleaner, coffeshop assistant and even a cop. You name it and he is prepared to have a go to get to the shoes of the heartlander folks, who seldom get recognised for doing what they do.
In a Facebook post, 37-year-old Mr Ng said: “I want to really understand and really see what’s happening on the ground and to be able to make a difference, I want to gain some first-hand experience. And so, every month, I will try a different profession and literally put myself in their shoes.”
To prove he meant business, in November, he went to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital as a healthcare worker, doing a morning shift at a C-class ward, where he changed pampers and cleaned the patients. His longer-term view, in his words, was to “help healthcare workers but also how we can make things better for hospital patients.”
Video of Louis’ experience as a healthcare worker
To date, he has done three assignments, the second as a driver during the year-end December period, and the third as a Town Council cleaner in January 2016.
As a driver, he graciously used the day’s earnings to buy Christmas presents for the children from lower income families in Nee Soon.
Video of Louis’ experience as a driver
Mr Ng even relished holding a broom and dust-pan, picking the dustbins and sweeping the streets together with Hanif, the cleaner he shadowed. He says: “As Chairman of the Nee Soon Town Council, it’s important for me to understand what’s happening on the ground, see where the gaps are and where we can improve. It is also important for me to understand the difficulties our cleaners like Hanif face.”
Video of Louis’ experience as a cleaner
For his out-of-the-box work, Mr Ng drew praises from Nee Soon residents. Facebook user Peter Teo wrote: “Great. The first time an MP is doing this. Proud to be a resident of Nee Soon GRC.” Another user, Christopher Andrew Sin, wrote: “Good idea. Support. All thumbs and hands up.”
Big debut in Parliament
His longer-term goals are to make a more substantive debut when Parliament convenes for the new season on January 15. He explains: “I’m really looking forward to doing this, gaining more experience and also use these experiences to help draft my questions in Parliament and help improve policies in Singapore.”
He said that he has the chance to “try 60 jobs” in one five-year term of office, but he will want to return to some of the jobs he has tried to see if conditions improve after he gave feedback. “I don’t want it to be a one-off thing,” he said.
His love for the grassroots are close to legendary as before venturing into politics, Mr Ng, who has a Bachelor of Science (Biology) from National University of Singapore and a Masters in Primate Conservation from Oxford Brookes University in England, founded the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), an animal activist group.
Even Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who is the anchor minister for Nee Soon, gave the thumbs-up and shared Mr Ng’s video as a healthcare worker on his Facebook page.
Yes, this new MP dares to be different. He seriously walks the talk at Nee Soon East.