Singapore—Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung posted photos of himself working in a community vegetable garden on Wednesday (Mar 31), adding that when he was younger he worked as a “farmhand” on a kampung.
His extended family, Mr Ong explained, lived in a kampung off Lorong Chuan, where he worked on weekends.
“I was a farmhand, mostly helping my father catch and pack fishes,” the Transport Minister wrote.
He was not paid for his work but did it “for the joy of it”.
His father, Ong Lian Teng, was also active in politics, but he belonged to the opposition Barisan Sosialis party. The late Mr Ong served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Bukit Panjang constituency from 1963 to 1965 and was a Member of Parliament from 1965 until 1966, after which he resigned in protest against the “undemocratic acts” of the PAP government. Barisan Sosialis merged with the Workers’ Party in 1988.
Mr Ong, the Transport Minister, is the MP for Sembawang Central ward. Helping out at the community garden over the weekend helped him “relive a bit” of his childhood, he wrote.
At the garden, he had a chance to help “our community family harvest, clean and pack vegetables to be given out to the needy”.
He acknowledged that this is not exactly what he did as a young boy in his family’s kampung, but the activity was “close enough to bring back a lot of memories”.
The Minister added, “Even as the town continues to develop, I am glad the Kampung spirit continues.”
Two days ago, the Sembawang Central Community Facebook page said that vegetables had been harvested and given to residents in need under the Gardens Give Back programme. It added that there are 23 community gardens across Sembawang taking turns in harvesting vegetables in Sembawang GRC.
This was reported in The Straits Times on Mar 28 as well, which said that the Gardens Give Back programme began on Feb 28.
Last Sunday’s harvest at Sembawang Central Residents’ Network Community Garden, which Mr Ong wrote about in his post, took place at the sole garden found in a private housing estate.
Around 60 kg of produce was harvested on Sunday.
The minister told ST that the gardeners from the area mostly used to live in kampungs, much like himself.
They started the garden under Mr Ong’s predecessor, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, who retired from public service last year.
ST quotes Mr Ong as saying, “Since I came over here I thought it’s a good idea if we can distribute some of their harvest to lower-income families.
“As Sembawang continues to develop, we’re going to see more concrete and steel coming out from the town. At the same time, that kampung spirit ought to continue, and today is a very good manifestation of that.”
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