By Suresh Nair
TEARS welled in Louis Ng’s eyes as he delivered an endearing speech on family values in Parliament yesterday. I blubbered, too, as I listened to the brief television excerpts over Channel 5.
Louis is only 37, my Member of Parliament from Nee Soon East and since I worked with him as a grassroots leader the past one year, I found him to be someone extraordinary, exemplary, esthetic, an enduring politician who is prepared to serve the community on the eighth day, if ever there’s an extra day in a week.
His father, the late Robert Ng, and I were wonderful football friends and when he passed on last year after a prolonged cancer battle, I felt a silent moral obligation to reciprocate the family-friendship. And that’s what I exactly told the son, that I’d help him to serve the Nee Soon heartlanders, in memory of his dad.
Louis described Thursday’s speech as “my most heartfelt and painful speech” as he shared memories of “daddy” at the highest parliamentary stage.
“It is an understatement to say that I miss him,” he said, his voice choked in emotion.
Louis’s tribute touched on the importance of dad-son and family values and the need for Singaporeans to spend quality time with loved ones.
“He worked very hard and he didn’t work for himself or purely for money. He never wore branded clothes and never liked expensive things,” he said. “He worked hard for his family, his company and his staff members. But he didn’t have much time for family and he passed on before he retired and before he was about to have more time for family, especially his grandchildren.”
Louis cited a heartfelt quote, which reads: “Spend time with those you love. One of these days you will say either “I wish I had,” or “I’m glad I did.” With my father, I’m sure his reply is “I wish I had” and with him “I wish I had” too but I know I can’t turn back time and will have to live with that regret.”
A father of a two-year-old girl and now going to be newly-minted father of twins, he said: “I hope members enjoy the stories I tell about my daughter and my parenthood journey because there are going to be more stories, as my daughter will now graduate to become a big sister.
“I’m happy to announce that we are expecting our second child. And there was a one-for-one offer and so I’m happy to announce that we are also expecting our third child. We are having twins!”
The former founder of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) was downright honest of the new family challenges ahead of him: “Just saying twins makes me feel tired already. But we (British wife, Amy Corrigan) are both excited, extremely excited about our two little girls and I can’t wait to welcome them to this world and spend time with them. I have to say though that this factory is closed after these two babies.”
He ends his speech with this beautiful tear-jerking quote:
“You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow they will be a little bigger then they are today. This day is a gift. Breathe and notice. Smell and touch them. Study their faces and little feet and pay attention. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today. It will be over before you know it.”
Thank you, Louis, for such a family-endearing message to every Singaporean enduring an ultra-hectic lifestyle: Remember to spend time, quality time with your children.
Let me end with a favourite personal line, Louis told me when I first started grassroots work with him and when I recognised he was more than a rousing workaholic, sometimes at the expense of finding family time.
“Suresh, I better spend time with my little daughter before she calls me ‘Uncle’!”
What a whimpering line from a phenomenal 37-year-old MP, who sets the best example for me, the Nee Soon East grassroots, and every heartlander man and woman in Singapore.
Oops, let me confess, we share the same birthday, December 8, and I look forward to blowing the big candles with him, in four weeks. By then, he’d be more than a changed family-man, a father of three.