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Dad inspired him to join politics

He had an early start on his political career, trailing his father on walkabouts during the last two general elections in 2006 and 2001. -myp

Tue, Apr 12, 2011
my paper

By Joy Fang & Kenny Chee

HE HAD an early start on his political career, trailing his father on walkabouts during the last two general elections in 2006 and 2001.

But Mr Ong Teng Koon, 34, son of Mr Ong Ah Heng, 67, MP for Nee Soon Central, had a different role then - he carried his father's water bottle and gave him moral support.

The younger Mr Ong, a commodities trader, would fly back from abroad - when he studied in London and later worked in cities such as Chicago and Tokyo - to spend a few days with his father and watch him in action. He cites his experience observing his father as having a great influence on him.

"My father is a kopitiam MP. He's very strong when it comes to grassroots issues and getting along well with the residents," he said, adding that he hopes to learn from his father how to mix well with the residents and communicate with them.

Mr Ong was part of the seventh batch of new People's Action Party (PAP) candidates unveiled yesterday at the party's headquarters in New Upper Changi Road. The other two candidates were former managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Heng Swee Keat and unionist Alex Yam. PAP chairman Lim Boon Heng, who was present, said the latest batch of candidates was "probably the second-last" batch to be introduced.

Mr Lim, 63, a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, reiterated that there was not enough information offered about the opposition parties' new candidates and that "the public deserves to know". He also said that Mr Heng, 50, would be a "core member" of the PAP's fourth generation of leaders.

On why he decided to enter politics after nearly three decades in the public service, Mr Heng said that he wanted to strengthen social cohesion in Singapore.

He added that, over the years, his conviction that the Government needs the people's support so that public policies can benefit them grew.

Mr Yam, 30, is the second- youngest PAP candidate after Ms Tin Pei Ling, 28. When asked if he would be worried about criticisms akin to those posted online about Ms Tin's age, Mr Yam said he would take them "in his stride".

Ong Teng Koon, 34

Occupation: Commodities trader with American financial-services firm Morgan Stanley. Spotted in: Sembawang GRC.

Background: He graduated from the London School of Economics in 2001 with first-class honours in Economics, before obtaining a Master in Finance from Princeton University in 2003. He worked for Goldman Sachs in Chicago as a trader and joined Morgan Stanley in 2009.

On the integrated resorts: "I was a little bit sceptical at the outset...but there is no question that the casinos have brought tangible benefits to the economy, in terms of tourism and attracting high-net-worth individuals."

 Alex Yam, 30

Occupation: Head of Strategies and Planning in Young NTUC.

Spotted in: Chua Chu Kang GRC.

Background: He obtained an honours degree in Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. He was an administrative officer at the National University of Singapore in 2005 before joining NTUC’s youth unit in 2006. He has been active in grassroots activities since 2000.

On having a multi-party system: “Many times, there is gridlock in policies and budgets, and dis-
agreement over very minute details because of differences in policy ideals... What we have in Singapore so far has been a system that works.”

Heng Swee Keat, 50

Occupation: Former managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Spotted in: Tampines GRC.

Background: A Singapore Police Force overseas scholar, Mr Heng has over 27 years of public- sector experience. He was Principal Private Secretary to then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew from 1997 to 2000 and, in 2001, became Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry. He joined the MAS as managing director in 2005.

On one cause he will champion: “We have made strides in getting more students to enter (institutes of higher education) but we must still work on this as education is vital for our children’s future.


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