Singapore—In a truly unusual time, things that are more or less “normal” can lend both comfort and stability.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who will be announcing this year’s budget on Tuesday afternoon (Feb 16), took the time to shoutout to the woman who has been preparing porridge for the Ministry of Finance team working on the Budget Statement.
He thanked her in a Facebook post on Monday (Feb 15).
Despite the Covid pandemic, “Auntie Mei Jok,” as Mr Heng called her, managed to keep up a tradition that has lasted over four decades.
He called the tradition “a rite of passage for many young MOF officers, and a morale boost for the team, who would have been working very hard on the Budget.”
Auntie Mei Jok needed to make some adjustments this year, however, in the interest of keeping everyone safe.
“Cooking was done by two separate teams at two different pantries, one for each of our split teams. The porridge was individually packed and served, instead of ‘family style’ at the pantry,” Mr Heng, who is also Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, explained in his post.
And since some people were working from home, like many of us amid this pandemic, not all the members of the team were able to enjoy the porridge, which looked truly delicious, judging from the photo the Minister posted.
“But for those in office, this was a moment of warmth and joy,” he added.
Mr Heng seemed to even take a lesson from Auntie Mei Jok and this year’s porridge.
“Adapting amidst change. Not just for our workers and economy, but also for our tradition.”
The Finance Minister also shared a BTS (Behind The Scenes) video of Auntie Mei Jok preparing the porridge, the last of a series of BTS videos that the MOF has shared this year.
“Every year, Auntie Mei Jok, with help from many others, lovingly prepares the delicious Budget Porridge to cheer on the MOF team.
Like this home-cooked treat, the Budget is the result of the teamwork and dedication of our MOF officers past and present – not forgetting many partners, stakeholders and colleagues across the Whole-of-Government.”
In the video, Mr Heng talks to Auntie Mei Jok, who tells him the tradition started in the 1970s.
He tells her how good the porridge smells, even behind his mask, and that it is something that the MOF staff look forward to yearly.
The Minister also called it “an important part of our journey to our Budget.”
After he tasted the porridge he exclaims, “Wow, this is great! It gets better every year.”
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