PAP65: Quick chat with Ang Mong Seng

27 Nov 2019 5 min read

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人民行动党65周年庆:与洪茂诚面对面

配合人民行动党庆祝成立65周年,我们访问了几名退休的国会议员,邀请他们分享担任议员的点滴。这一期,我们请前议员洪茂诚分享他的政治生涯中,让他印象最深刻的时刻。

洪茂诚,70岁

  • 武吉甘柏单选区议员 (1997 – 2001)
  • 丰加集选区议员 (2001 – 2011)

1) 在你的政治生涯里,能否和我们分享让你印象最深刻的时刻?

洪茂诚:让我印象最深刻的是1997年的全国大选。我第一次代表人民行动党,在反对党管辖的武吉甘柏区参加竞选。我以65.2%的支持率获胜,从反对党议员林孝谆的手中赢回武吉甘柏区。当选举官宣布我当选为武吉甘柏的国会议员的时候,支持者和居民欢呼的情景,我终身难忘。

我是在1996年1月被调到武吉甘柏区担任基层顾问。我的胜利显示我的竞选团队一年来的努力没有白费。

(可以谈一谈你当时获胜的因素吗?)

洪茂诚:我能够获胜有几个因素。第一,我在文礼担任支部秘书及基层执委多年。武吉甘柏位于西部,西部的基层对我很熟悉。

在1991年的大选中,原议员薛爱美博士仅以1.4%输给反对党民主党的林孝谆。所谓取人之长、补己之短,我通过和基层及居民的沟通了解落败的原因。我加强了和居民的交流,例如参加居民的婚礼和丧礼、出席中元会以及行动党教育中心每个月举办的幼稚园生日会。我也成立了委员会,以了解民生课题,例如为私人组屋区增添巴士服务。

另外,在竞选期间,我跟基层领袖拟定一套基本的作战策略,包含五个心,也就是信心、耐心、细心、转心和爱心来打动武吉甘柏的居民。我们积极收集居民的反馈,了解他们的需要,为市镇拟定五年计划。

2) 请你分享你在担任国会议员期间所面对的一些挑战。

洪茂诚:我当选武吉甘柏区的议员后,成功的为居民争取到建屋局在山景道组屋区推行选择性整体重建计划。那个时候,也就是1999年,建屋局选定在武吉巴督西5道,也就是现在武吉甘柏地铁站旁边的地段,兴建1000多个新的组屋单位。
我跟山景道的居民公布这个消息后,很多居民前去新的地点观察。他们看到那里是一片树林,纷纷来问我:你怎么能够叫我们搬到这样的地方?他们无法想象以后这幅地段的发展情况。

我和基层领袖花了不少努力去说服居民。我们举办对话会,让他们看建屋局为新组屋区定制的设计图,对新组屋区有一个基本的概念。2005那年,新组屋区-美景园竣工。组屋区不仅靠近地铁站,而且设施完善,有购物中心和学校。居民非常满意,他们感激我们之余,也了解我们当年的苦心。

另外一个挑战则是如何得到人民的支持。我们不只注重市镇的硬件发展,例如提升组屋区的居住环境,进行组屋及电梯翻新的工程;我们也重视软件的部分,加强与居民的联系。我们举办各类型的社区活动,例如带居民外出、招待贫困老人及颁发渡岁金、举办国庆晚宴、颁发奖助学金给学生等。有些活动的规模相当大,达到上千人。无论是发展硬件或是软件,我们的努力和取得的成绩,人们有目共睹。

3)请你分享担任议员,什么让你最有满足感?

洪茂诚:让我最有满足感的就是先前提到的,让山景道组屋区的1000多户居民在选择性整体重建计划下,搬迁到美景园的新组屋。那个时候,居民搬进新组屋的快乐模样,我至今难忘。

另外,担任议员的时候,我每个星期接见居民,通过不同管道解决他们的问题,也让我很有满足感。退下来之后,我偶尔会回去武吉甘柏一带走走,看到以前推动的项目,普遍提升了居民的居住环境,我感到很欣慰。

为民服务是国会议员的宗旨。我当选议员的时候,以65.2%的成绩胜出。到了2001年,我获胜的百分比达到79.5%;到了2006年,我不战而胜。选举的成绩,不是靠我个人,而是靠整个团队和基层的打拼。人们知道我们是真的为民服务。

4)谁让你印象最深刻?

洪茂诚:建国总理李光耀让我的印象最深刻。我在建屋局工作,负责产业管理。李先生私底下偶尔会到组屋区走动。有一次,他参观大巴窑的组屋区。在巡视的时候,留意到停车场的一棵树木长得不是很好。他问一旁的工程师原因何在。工程师解释说,可能是因为树木无法吸收水分才造成的。李先生立即回应:那你们就应该解决问题。其实,当年的停车场铺设水泥,没有预留空间,以种植树木。如今,所有的停车场都预留空间,以便种植树木。

从这件事可以看出建国总理李光耀心思缜密、明察秋毫。我也从中学到,无论看什么事物,都不能够只看表面,要看它的因果,才能够解决更大的问题。现在新加坡能够成为花园城市,李资政和他的团队功不可没。

5) 在人行动党庆祝成立65周年之际,你对行动党有什么期许?

洪茂诚:在过去65年里,在人民行动党的领导下,新加坡从一个落后的国家发展成一个发达的国家。第一到第三代领导为我国的发展,奠定了稳固的基础。我深信第四代领导能够把新加坡发展得更繁荣与昌盛。

To celebrate the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) 65th anniversary, we interviewed several retired Members of Parliament (MPs) for their insights.

Here’s the eighth part of our series. Former Ang Mong Seng shares the challenges he faced as a politician.

Ang Mong Seng, 70

  • MP for Bukit Gombak SMC (1997 – 2001)
  • MP for Hong Kah GRC (Bukit Gombak) (2001 – 2011)

1. What was the memorable moment of your political career?

Ang Mong Seng: In 1997, I represented the PAP in the General Elections for the first time to contest at opposition ward Bukit Gombak. I had 65.2 per cent of the vote. When the returning officer announced that I was elected as the MP for Bukit Gombak, my supporters and residents broke into loud cheers. This is the moment that I will remember for life. This victory shows that the efforts of my campaign team had borne fruit.

(Can you share some of the reasons for the victory?)

Ang Mong Seng: There were several reasons that contributed to our team winning the trust of Bukit Gombak residents. First, I was able to understand the demographics of the residents intently as I was the branch secretary for Boon Lay branch and a committee member of the grassroots organisation for many years. I was familiar with the residents staying in the west due to my past experience as an estate manager with the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in Woodlands Branch.

In the 1991 GE, Dr Seet Ai Mee lost Singapore Democratic Party’s Ling How Doong by a mere 1.4 per cent. I learnt from the experiences and adopted strategies to overcome my shortcomings. I talked to grassroots and residents to understand possible reasons that we could have lost the ward.

To ensure that we know our residents well, we made sure that we seize every opportunity to interact with our residents in Bukit Gombak. I attended from weddings, wakes, seventh-month rituals, to the monthly birthday celebrations at PAP Community Foundation kindergartens. To resolve residents’ issues, I also formed various committees and we made improvements such as adding new bus services plying private housing estates.

During the campaigning period, our team developed a strategy to emphasise our determination to serve our residents. Our promises should allow our residents to feel confident about the team serving them. They would feel the empathy and kindness from the team that would serve them wholeheartedly. With that in mind, we gathered residents’ feedback to understand their needs and translated them into a five-year action plan. Our efforts had touched our residents’ hearts and paid off in the election results.

2. Can you share some of the challenges that you have faced when you were an MP?

Ang Mong Seng: In 1999, the housing estate at Hillview Avenue was selected to undergo the Selective En-Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS). HDB intended to build 1,000 new housing units at the replacement site situated next to Bukit Gombak MRT station.

I informed the residents of the good news and many of them immediately went to the new site to take a look. However, they were shocked to see a forested area. Many came to ask me questions. They could not imagine moving to that area and wondered how it could be developed into a new housing estate.

My grassroots leaders and I spent much effort to explain the SERs project to the residents. We organised dialogue sessions for them and showed them the concept plan of the new estate. The new housing estate was completed in 2005. It was next to the MRT and there were amenities such as a shopping mall and a school within walking distance. The residents were happy and appreciated our efforts.

Another challenge I faced was garnering the support of residents. To do so, we not only focused on the hardware of a town, but also the heart ware.. For the infrastructure upgrading in Bukit Gombak, we improved the living environment of the town and carried out estate upgrading and lift upgrading programmes. As for the heart ware, I forged stronger ties with my residents by organised community events, bringing them on excursions, providing free meals and ang pow for the elderly, and others. We had overwhelming response for some of our activities, the number of participants totalled 1,000 residents. Be it developing the hardware or software, the residents could see that we had put in our best efforts.

3. What was the most rewarding aspect of being an MP?

Ang Mong Seng: Helping 1,000 families from Hillview Avenue to relocate to Bukit Batok West Avenue 5 under the SERs project, was one of the projects that I derived a lot of satisfaction from. I will always remember how happy the residents were when they moved into their new homes.

Helping residents to resolve their problems at the weekly Meet-the-People sessions is rewarding too. After I retired from politics, I would drive to Bukit Gombak occasionally. Looking at the projects that I have implemented in the past, how they have improved the overall living environment of the residents, gives me a sense of pride.

It’s an MP’s job to serve the residents. When I was first elected as an MP, my vote share was 65.2 per cent. Subsequently in 2001, my vote share increased to 79.5 per cent. In 2006, it was a walkover for my constituency. Our success is the result of a team effort.

4. Who was the most interesting person you have met?

Ang Mong Seng: Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew left a deep impression on me. Mr Lee used to visit housing estates occasionally and facilitating such visits was part of my job at HDB. He paid a visit to Toa Payoh once and during the visit, he noticed a particular tree not growing well at the carpark. He asked the engineer next to him for an explanation. The engineer explained that the building of car parking lots did not set aside enough area for the growth of trees. As a result, the root system of the tree could not absorb water. Mr Lee immediately told the engineer to do something about the problem. Because of this insight, the authorities had made provisions to set aside area in between parking lots so to allow healthy growth of trees

This episode showed that Mr Lee was meticulous and eagle-eyed. I learned not to just resolve problems on the surface, but to take a deep dive into looking at a problem in totality.. We have Minister Mentor Lee and his team to thank for turning Singapore into a garden city.

5. As PAP celebrates its 65th birthday, what is your wish for the Party?


Ang Mong Seng: Under the Party’s leadership, Singapore has evolved from a developing nation to first world over the past 65 years. Upon the solid foundations laid by our first- to third- generation leaders, our fourth-generation leaders will bring Singapore to greater success and prosperity.