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Bonding between Member of Parliament and foreign HDB cleaner

The Independent logo The Independent 12/4/2019 Suresh Nair
a group of people sitting at a table with wine glasses © The Independent Singapore

RESPECT means trust and it’s most heartening to read how MP Louis Ng treated a Bangladeshi cleaner in an extraordinary brotherly way to earn the gratitude of residents in Nee Soon constituency.

Not only did he work with Mohammed Hanif, he even visited his family while on an overseas visit to Bangladesh and this exemplary politician-cleaner bondship ranks as one of the most endearing community stories.

The bigger joy for Ng came last month when Hanif and his wife Tania had their first child, a boy they named “Al Amin” which means “honest”.

“I’m so glad Hanif got to go back to Bangladesh to spend some time with his family. It must be so difficult for him to be so far from his home and family,” says Ng, a first-term PAP politician and father of three daughter

“Hanif is a role-model for the foreign-worker community for helping to keep Nee Soon clean over the past decade. Thank you for being a part of our Nee Soon family.”

Ng walks the talk. He even sported blue-collared attire and picked up the brooms  and bins as he worked with Hanif, and other cleaners at the Nee Soon Town Council, two years ago, to “experience first-hand how difficult their job is and how back-breaking the work is”,

DEDICATED TO CLEANING

“I learnt a lot from him, how difficult his life has been and yet how he is so full of smiles and so dedicated about making sure he does his job well for us. His enthusiasm for life continues to be infectious and residents love him and treat him not as their cleaner but as their good friend and for some even their family member.

“I even had dinner with Hanif’s family when I was in Bangladesh last year and I saw first-hand how proud they were of him and, most of all, how much they miss him. Like all of us, Hanif works hard and sacrifices for his family.”

He added that, as Chairman of the Nee Soon Town Council, he will continue to implement more changes to improve things and ensure that residents continue to have a clean environment to live in.

Even in Parliament,  Ng has raised the importance of treating foreign workers, whom he describes as a “forgotten group of people and we need to make sure they are fairly treated”.

He explains: “The cleaners do a lot for us for very little. They help ensure we have a clean environment to live in, to work in and a clean environment to enjoy our food and drinks in.”

For the record, Ng spoke 308 times in Parliament in unofficially ranked as the politician who conveys the most down-to-earth feedback right at the austere corridors of Parliament House. In his personal year-end report-card he laid out the cards: Speaking on 151 Parliamentary Questions, 109 Bills, three Motions, three Budget Statements, one Ministerial Statement, two President’s Address Debates, 65 Budget Cuts, two Adjournment Motions and one Public Petition.

In Ng’s books, simply being told “you’re appreciated is one of the simplest and most uplifting things you can hear”.

Hanif, who is computer-savvy, took to Facebook to express his gratitude to Nee-Soon Town Council and residents, particularly Mr Ng, who would “bring the workers out for meals and bestow words of encouragement”.

In simple words, he recounted how he left Bangladesh in 2006 to work in Singapore, as well as the unforgettable experiences he had working here. The cleaner, who won the Best Conservancy Cleaning Operator Award in both 2011 and 2012, said a stable job in Singapore has provided his family back home with a better life.

APPRECIATING THE WORK

He wrote on Facebook: “I came here with the aim of securing a job to send back home some money and to improve the quality of life for my family back in Bangladesh. I’m very fortunate to be working for Nee Soon Town Council as a cleaner. They appreciate the work that I do, in helping to keep the place clean and green.

“The smiles they give me when I walk past the homes and the small talks we have like ‘thank you’ and all of that really touched me and make me proud to serve the estate as their cleaner.”

Even in his spare time, Hanif volunteers at mosques, citing: “Aside from working, I offer a helping hand at the Yishun Mosque. I was given an award for being an exemplary volunteer in 2016.  I really feel good for all the appreciation shown to me for my work and I hope to do more within my capacity as a human being and a cleaner for the estate.”

Before ending his post, Hanif saluted Mr Ng: “The good management of welfare of the workers shown from MP Louis Ng also motivates us to serve with pride. Like bringing us out to dinners and such, I really appreciate such gestures shown by him.”

It may sound like a heartland fairy-tale. But this bondship between Member of Parliament and a foreign HDB cleaner simply sums up the importance of respect.

7Ng has shown the importance of being respected by the community, from important people to the ordinary heartland residents, for the blue-collar foreign workers.

As he rightly picks a sincere line on humanity: “Respect means that you accept somebody for who they are, even when they’re different from you or you don’t agree with them. Respect in your relationships builds feelings of trust, safety, and well-being.”

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