Malaysian born former Member of Parliament, Irene Ng, is searching for two of her junior college friends who treated her kindly when she moved to Singapore to study.
Ms Ng completed her primary and secondary education in Penang, Malaysia. Then, she went on to complete a pre-university course at Nanyang Junior College in Singapore. Ms Ng eventually completed the Bachelor of Arts & Social Science at the National University of Singapore in 1986, and her M.Sc in International Relations at the London School of Economics & Political Science in 1998.
She eventually became a citizen of Singapore and worked as a journalist. She was the senior political correspondent of The Straits Times, when she was elected to Parliament from the group representation constituency of Tampines. She was Member of Parliament (MP) for the ward from 2001 and stepped-down at the last General Election.
In a call for help to locate her friends in her Facebook, Ms Ng said that her friends names are Foong Yee and Shanti Chelliah. She lost touch with Foong Yee went they both started working, and Shanti, she last heard that this friend was in Jakarta.
Ms Ng has often cited both of these friends in her speeches to students and also to lower-income groups when was was an MP.
“This is because when I came to Singapore and had no friends in JC (junior college), they were my first real friends who looked out for me,” the ex-MP said.
Foong Yee lived in a one-room flat in Toa Payoh and was from a low-income family. “But she bought me things when she noticed I was doing without, and in that way, gave me heart to carry on despite the difficulties,” the MP remembered her friend.
Shanti too lived in Toa Payoh. Her mother was a widow who single-handedly raised three children. Shanti would invite Ms Ng to stay with her on some weekends. Ms Ng would sleep on the top bunk of Shanti’s double-decker bed. The ex-Mp said she loved waking up to the smell of Shanti’s mother’s home-made thosais (Indian pancakes).
“Both Foong Yee and Shanti did not have material wealth but they shared with me generously of their heart and of their home – the kind of wealth that really matters,” Ms Ng said.
“I will always remember that when I was alone and in need, it was the lower-income Singaporeans who helped me, without asking for anything in return, without making me feel like a charity case, without making me lose my sense of dignity, without judging me,” she added.
Saying she has been looking for her two friends for some years now, Ms Ng said that her two friends were one reason why when she was MP, she put in place many programmes for the lower-income.
“So if any of you know how I can contact Foong Yee and Shanti Chelliah (from NYJC) – please let me know,” she appealed.
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