Bukit Batok residents shocked by resignation

Bukit Batok residents yesterday said they were shocked and saddened by the news that their MP David Ong had resigned, saying it was a pity to see him leave.

They said he had done a good job of running their estate as the chairman of the Jurong-Clementi Town Council, and was always on the ground helping residents.

The Prime Minister's Office announced yesterday afternoon that Mr Ong had stepped down as MP and quit the People's Action Party (PAP), where he had been a longtime member before being fielded to contest the 2011 General Election.

Shortly after his resignation was made public, Mr Ong admitted that it was over "a personal indiscretion on my part which I deeply regret".

The dozen residents The Sunday Times spoke to yesterday were surprised at the news that he had quit.

Taxi driver Thomas Lim said: "Who doesn't make mistakes? He shouldn't have to quit. He should just apologise and stay on."

His sentiment was shared by several other residents, such as clerical worker Lim Soon Hiang, 59, who said: "I am not very concerned about his personal life. He is a very good MP and has helped my family a few times. I will still support him if he stays."

Some, like retiree Leow Leong Hai, 90, were however concerned about their MP quitting just months into his term, and having to vote again so soon after the general election.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that a by-election will be called "in due course".

Others were concerned their estate would be affected.

Asked a 45-year-old resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lim: "Are our toilet upgrading programmes and neighbourhood renewal programmes going to continue? Will there be changes?"

The PAP said yesterday that Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee, an MP for Jurong GRC, will take over Mr Ong's Meet-the-People Sessions. Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng will take over Mr Ong's role as Jurong-Clementi Town Council chairman.

Mr Ong, 54, has been an MP for the area since 2011, when Bukit Batok was a ward in Jurong GRC. It was made a single seat last year.

But most residents painted a picture of a hard-working MP who was friendly and approachable.

Madam Lim said that although her family moved to the area only seven months ago, she would often see Mr Ong around her block. "He's very hard-working. His Meet-the- People Sessions end very late, and I see him walking around again early in the morning," she said. "During Chinese New Year, he was greeting residents at the market at 6am."

Mr Arul Raja, 39, is among the residents whom Mr Ong has helped. The manager at a heavy equipment manufacturing company said Mr Ong wrote a letter to appeal to a nearby school to take his daughter in, so she could go to a school close to home.

"She was sent to a school in Jurong and was carsick on the school bus every day. Mr Ong helped us and she was transferred after one month," he said. "I have three other friends he has helped," he added.

Retired cleaner Tan Nan Hiang, 71, said Mr Ong was obliging and quick to respond to residents. "He was very willing to solve our problems and listen to our suggestions. When we asked him to fix this or that, he will always do it," she said.

Many of the residents noted that Mr Ong won over 70 per cent of the vote in a three-way fight last year.

Said pre-school principal Catherine Wong, 43: "Let's hope we choose the right MP again."


This article was first published on March 13, 2016.
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