During the haze last year, you might have seen people wearing masks with an “X” on them, or read articles about 7500 Singaporeans who pledged to buy sustainable palm oil products. Now meet the 26-year-old behind the campaign- Melissa Chong.
Melissa founded a social enterprise called GameChangerz, which runs campaigns on social and environmental issues. She’s also founded a network named Singapore Youth for Climate Action, and represented Singapore’s young “greenies” at the United Nations’ Paris climate talks.
Through her passion for environmental issues, it was natural for her to get to know Louis Ng. Now, she helps him research his Parliamentary speeches on environmental issues. She revealed that while most MPs have paid assistants to do this, Louis relies instead on a group of passionate volunteers, each well-versed in their own fields. They compile research that he draws on when writing his speeches and parliamentary questions.
She said, “I got involved because I believe in what Louis is trying to do in Parliament, the debate he’s trying to bring up. I can tell that he really goes to the ground to listen to people, for example in his extensive dialogues with students and green groups. I think he’s really the person to represent us. Through helping him, I get to influence key decision-makers and hopefully drive real change. “
Beyond environmental issues, Melissa has also helped out in Meet-the-People Sessions and grassroots events. She feels that they opened her eyes to more bread-and-butter issues.
We asked Melissa what she would say to youth who feel like they don’t have the time to start volunteering. She said, “Of course you have to give up some things, like TV or shopping. But it’s so much more fulfilling when you contribute to a cause and meet like-minded friends. Once you try it, you’ll get hooked!”