Newly-elected office-holders: What they have been posting on social media

(From left) Newly-elected office holders Ong Ye Kung, Ng Chee Meng, Chee Hong Tat and Amrin Amin.
(From left) Newly-elected office holders Ong Ye Kung, Ng Chee Meng, Chee Hong Tat and Amrin Amin.PHOTOS: ST FILE, LIANHE ZAOBAO, BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - It has been three weeks since the new Cabinet assumed office on Oct 1. How are the newly-elected office holders - Mr Ong Ye Kung, Mr Ng Chee Meng, Mr Chee Hong Tat and Mr Amrin Amin - settling into their new roles in politics?

The Straits Times takes a look.

Mr Ong Ye Kung, 45

  • Current post: Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills); Senior Minister of State for Defence; MP for Sembawang GRC
  • Formerly: Director of group strategy at Keppel Corp; deputy secretary-general at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC); high-flier in the civil service before leaving in 2008, taking on posts such as the Prime Minister's principal private secretary and the chief executive of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency.
  • Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ongyekung
  • Number of Likes: 13,387

Barely a day since he changed his Facebook profile picture on Wednesday (Oct 21), to one of him giving a speech dressed in a pink shirt, there has been some talk over whether it signals Prime Minister ambition.

Netizen Alvin Ng said "You have what it takes!", while Grace Teo more directly said "Future PM".

If it eventually happens, it should come as no surprise. Mr Ong, like Mr Ng, is part of the 4G leadership and has been widely tipped to be of potential Prime Ministerial material.

Judging by his activity over the past three weeks, it almost seems as if Mr Ong is trying to make up for lost time. After all, he had failed in his first bid to enter politics, when he was part of the defeated Aljunied GRC PAP team in GE2011.

Since he assumed office, he has attended several events in places from Pulau Tekong to Nanyang Technological University.

Beyond issuing a joint message to the Ministry of Education (MOE) fraternity with fellow Acting Minister, Mr Ng, he has spoken in a widely lauded speech about the tensions faced by higher education institutions at the first OECD-Singapore Conference on Higher Education Futures.

Netizen William Chong praised it as a "first class speech reflective of a truly incisive mind", while Joseph Tan said it was an "out-of-box analytical assessment of the raison d'être for higher education for Singaporeans". And earlier this week, Mr Ong was also given a tour of The Hive at NTU.

As part of his Defence portfolio, he has been to the Basic Military Training Centre where he interacted with recruits, as well as graced the diploma graduation ceremony of paramedics from the Singapore Armed Forces and Singapore Civil Defence Force.

One thing that rings clear from his Facebook posts is his human touch: he almost always gives kudos to the people he meets on the job.

During a visit to the call centre at the MOE building, he put faces and names to the voices manning the MOE hotline. On a trip to the National University of Singapore, he recognised medical students working on simulators, entrepreneurial alumni, as well as students living in the hostel who were learning the guitar. He also singled out national table-tennis player Isabelle Li, whom he met when he attended the inauguration of Yale-NUS College with PM Lee Hsien Loong.

He has also paid tribute to Mr Abu Bakar, a former colleague at Keppel, whom the MOE had made a video about. He said: "His is a really inspiring story - after graduating from Poly, joined the military, rose through the ranks, joined Keppel, headed the shipyard in Qatar, and now CEO of a major Keppel subsidiary in specialized ship building."

In the midst of all this, Mr Ong does not forget to give Singaporeans a glimpse into his personal life.

In his personal thoughts of leaving his office at Keppel for the last time, he said: "I will miss the many friends I made here. Have returned my keys, laptop, iPad, but I will bring along with me the Keppel Can-Do spirit."

He also posted a photograph of his child, when he acknowledged his wife for a nice message sent to his family Whatsapp chat on Children's Day.

He wrote: "(The message) says 'Happy Children's Day, my children!' Have been busy and forgot all about it. Happy Children's Day to all children. May you all stay pure hearted and curious!"

 

Mr Ng Chee Meng, 47

  • Current post: Acting Minister for Education (Schools); Senior Minister of State for Transport; MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC
  • Formerly: Chief of Defence Force
  • Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NgCheeMengforSG
  • Number of Likes: 10,495

As the highest ranking military man to enter politics in Singapore, all eyes are on how Mr Ng makes the transition into the Government.

His first post after he was sworn into Cabinet was made tongue-in-cheek. Mr Ng said: "It's my first day back at school."

The school in question is Bukit View Primary, and the visit "an energising start to my education journey". Having dropped in on an English and a Chinese class where the students were "unusually quiet", he wrote: "When I asked, the teachers told me the kids were trying to be considerate for their seniors taking the PSLE. I thought how marvellous!"

He has also visited Frontier Primary, where he joined in their Children's Day celebrations. He praised a Primary 4 student - Talia - for her initiative in starting a bookworm club to sell her books for charity.

 

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Had a good time at Frontier Primary School joining in their Children’s Day celebrations yesterday. Happy to see the...

Posted by Ng Chee Meng 黄志明 on Thursday, 8 October 2015

He has also visited Metta School, which caters to students with mild intellectual disability and autism. There, he sat in on a class which teaches students how to better manage their emotions, and toured the school's training facilities to equip students with work skills for sectors like food preparation and housekeeping.

He has also issued a joint message to MOE staff with fellow Acting Minister, Mr Ong, and attended Special Education Learning Day, as well as the Leaders in Education Programme graduation dinner.

Meanwhile, for his transport portfolio, he has met the leaders of the National Taxi Association to understand their concerns over the proliferation of taxi booking apps and private hire car drivers.

He has pledged to factor some of their concerns into his policy work.

 

Mr Chee Hong Tat, 41

  • Current post: Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Health; MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
  • Formerly: Second Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry
  • Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hongtat.chee?fref=ts
  • Number of Likes: 1,796

Mr Chee was part of the Singapore delegation who visited Brunei for the Singapore-Brunei Youth Leadership Exchange Programme, along with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Minister of State for Finance, and Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann, and Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah.

There, he met Brunei counterparts Pehin Adanan (Minister for Health) and Pehin Abdullah (Minister for Communications), adding that he "looks forward to working closely with them in my new roles at MOH and MCI".

He was also at the opening of the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong East with PM Lee earlier this month, which was also attended by fellow MPs Chia Shi-Lu, Rahayu Mahzam and Tan Wu Meng. Also in attendance were Ms Fu, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, and Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor.

Most of his posts are grassroots-related, including pictures of residents he encounters, as well as of community events he has attended. For example, he has presented the letters of appointment to the latest batch of Pioneer Generation ambassadors in his GRC, as well as attended a charity dinner.

In one of these posts about a visit to a local kopitiam, he said in jest: "Hope my MOH and HPB colleagues are OK with me eating chicken rice, roti prata and carrot cake once in a while!"

Mr Amrin Amin, 37

Last week, Mr Amrin spoke about his pride to be in the Home Team, serving alongside "such fine, brave men and women who keep our Singapore safe and secure".

Sharing a video which provides a glimpse of the life of a Home Team officer, he said: "The sacrifices are real. A moving part of the clip is a mention on how a mistake could cost you your job, but for the Home Team officer, a mistake could cost him/her his/her life!"

On Wednesday (Oct 21), while in Kuala Lumpur to attend the General Police Equipment Conference and Exhibition, he paid a courtesy visit on Malaysia's DPM and Home Affairs Minister Dato' Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, together with Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon.

And earlier this week, he also opened a "secret" police bunker in the heart of Chinatown to the public. The British-built bomb-proof facility used to be nerve centre for police communications from 1956 to 1980s. It was where all 999 calls in Singapore were once answered and where the police managed operations to deal with security threats.

In a Facebook post, he lauded pioneer police officers, Mrs Lorna Jenner and Madam Lillian Lee, for being "lion-hearted" and "giving their heart and soul for the peace and security we enjoy today".

Mr Amrin has also been active in Malay-Muslim events, such as a youth seminar organised by Jamiyah Singapore, Singapore Kadayanallur Muslim League and Im.Prof - Indian Muslim Professionals - where "Youth Ambassadors of Peace" were appointed.

They plan to hold dialogues and activities to reach out to young people to spread the importance of peace and harmony, and correct distorted religious interpretations spread by terror groups, he said, adding: "But really, all of us are ambassadors of peace. In a multi-racial and multi-religious Singapore, all of us have to tackle the threat of extremist violence and terrorism together. So it should be 20 youth ambassadors of peace plus ALL of us."

He also attended a book donation drive for Syrian refugee children.

Mr Amrin has also granted media interviews about, among other things, the recent detention of two self-radicalised Singaporean youths for involvement in terrorism-related activities.