Unsung heroes' sterling commitment
Between them, they have given nearly 70 years of service to the People's Action Party. In the eyes of Party Chairman Khaw Boon Wan, they are veteran PAP activists who deserve respect for their sincerity and humility as they tirelessly toil the ground.
This year's three Commendation medal winners - Lim How Kim, Kuek Chiew Peng and Samuel Ling - topped the honours list. A total of 353 party activists were recognised for their hard work at the party awards held at the Kallang Theatre on December 7, 2013. Petir meets with the trio to find out what motivates these unsung heroes.
Lim How Kim
Branch: Jalan Kayu
Position: Branch secretary
Years of service: 19
While most people his age might be planning their retirement, Mr Lim How Kim isn't quite slowing down just yet. The 61-year-old deftly juggles his day job as a senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic and an equally demanding schedule at the Jalan Kayu branch.
Be it managing the meet-the-people sessions (MPS) or helping with community activities, Mr Lim says the work never really stops.
Being a part of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Ang Mo Kio GRC also means that there is always that "higher expectation" from the residents to perform and deliver, he added.
Not that he is complaining. He clearly enjoys the adrenaline rush as well as the chance to work with like-minded people who think nothing of sacrificing their time and energy to help the party succeed.
"The bond that we share is very strong. Many of us have been friends for more than 10 years and I enjoy working with all of them," says Mr Lim, the current branch secretary.
He notes that many of his activists put in long hours, especially on Thursdays when the MPS usually ends past midnight due to the number of cases.
The activists work hard, but they know how to play hard too. A group of 50 of them, led by Jalan Kayu MP Dr Intan Azura Mohktar (part of Ang Mo Kio GRC), spent a weekend in Batam recently where they played team-building games, sang karaoke and did the usual touristy stuff.
Mr Lim prefers to downplay his Commendation medal, saying it only means that he and his team will have to work even harder in the coming years.
"I'm very grateful to Dr Intan and the PAP HQ for recognising my contributions and past activities over the years. I hope I can do even better and take the party to greater heights," he says.
Kuek Chiew Peng
Branch: Boon Lay
Position: Vice chairman
Years of service: 28
After more than two decades as the branch secretary of Boon Lay, Mr Kuek Chiew Peng decided it was time to make way for some fresh young blood.
In April 2013, the 58-year-old businessman stepped down from the top post and took the vice-chairman job to provide continuity.
Mr Kuek's wish is that the party will continue to attract more young people into its ranks, a task he admits is not easy. "The youngsters are good in areas such as social media and IT, which are increasingly becoming part and parcel of everyday life. We need to be strong in these areas so that we can better connect with all segments of society," he says.
A party member since 1985, Mr Kuek has watched the PAP flourish in tandem with Singapore. The fact that PAP has never wavered in its policies from day one is what drives his commitment to the party, he pointed out.
"We have done a good job so far to grow Singapore to be where it is today. I continue to have that faith in the party to continue serving Singaporeans with a heart, and this is what keeps the team and myself going," he says.
Seeing the smiles on the residents' faces is more than enough reward for him. "We don't go looking for rewards. Everything we do is for the benefit of the community.
That said, I still feel honoured and proud and I want to continue to serve as best as I can," promises Mr Kuek.
Samuel Ling Teck Seng
Years of service: 22
The 1991 general election was an eye-opener for Mr Samuel Ling Teck Seng. Having joined the then Simei single-member constituency just months earlier, he was thrust into the thick of the action as the campaign got underway.
He had a ring-side seat, watching how then incumbent MP, Mr Teo Chong Tee, retained his seat with 53 per cent of the votes in what was one of that GE's toughest fights.
"When the result was announced, many of us felt quite sad. We thought we had done a good job but the margin turned out to be so narrow. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, because we were all motivated to work even harder to meet the aspirations of the people," he recalls.
Mr Ling eventually became branch secretary of Changi-Simei, which is now part of East Coast GRC. After nine years as branch secretary, the 54-year-old businessman retired but remains as active as ever.
He enjoys meeting the residents, especially during house visits and on incumbent MP Jessica Tan's regular walkabouts. It's a privileged position to be able to help others in need, he explained.
Mr Ling is confident that Singapore remains in good hands because the leadership believes in having a long-term strategy for the country.
"The PAP is a far-sighted party that tries to identify the possible problems 20 to 30 years down the road, and then come up with the right policies to address them," he says.
"I have real faith in what the party is doing and I'm glad to have played my small part in this process."
This article was first published in the Jan 2014 issue of Petir Magazine