Ministers drop in for surprise visit at Hougang Village

(Standing, from far left) Senior Minister of State Maliki Osman, Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung talking to residents at Hougang Village, which is part of Sengkang South division, du
(Standing, from left) Senior Minister of State Maliki Osman, Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung talking to residents at Hougang Village, which is part of Sengkang South division, during their community visit yesterday.PHOTO: ONG YE KUNG/FACEBOOK

Residents in Sengkang South division met some surprise guests yesterday morning.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman visited Hougang Village, where they spoke to residents and stall owners in the wet market, shops and coffee shops.

The trio were hosted by Mr Gan Thiam Poh, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC who oversees Sengkang South division.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Ong said small groups of ministers have been going on such visits every week.

The Education Minister, who is an MP for Sembawang GRC, said he took the opportunity to share his ministry's announcement last Friday that exams in schools will be reduced to free up time for better teaching and learning. "I am heartened that most parents welcomed the move," said Mr Ong.

In a separate Facebook post, Mr Heng wrote: "Glad to also hear that the schemes and initiatives that the Government has rolled out such as the SG Bonus, U-Save Rebates and GST Vouchers help to reduce cost of living, and benefit Singaporeans."

He said such community visits are useful "because we have a chance to hear from the residents the issues on their minds and their aspirations".

"The feedback helps us in our efforts to improve the lives of our people," Mr Heng added.

Mr Ong, who is in charge of coordinating ministerial community visits for this term of government, in July disclosed plans to have multiple ministers on such visits.

This new format is a departure from the past, as such ministerial community visits had typically involved just one minister each time.

Mr Ong had said that having multiple ministers go on visits together gives residents more opportunities to speak to the ministers directly.

He also added back then that the ministers would exchange notes after the visit, to more fully understand the issues people face.

Fabian Koh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2018, with the headline 'Ministers drop in for surprise visit at Hougang Village'. Print Edition | Subscribe