Phone calls, Facebook live & more: innovative ways PAP MPs are reaching out during the pandemic

With the more transmissible but less deadly Omicron variant spreading amongst us, it will probably take longer for the situation to improve.

But our Party’s Members of Parliament continue to do their utmost best to reach out to residents who need help, with some using conference calls and live videos to reach out effectively and safely.

A report in The Straits Times on Jan 25 outlined some innovative efforts by our MPs, in addition to the usual house visits and estate walkabouts.

Alvin Tan, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC (Moulmein – Cairnhill)

If you frequent Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry Alvin Tan’s Facebook page, this should be a familiar sight to you:

Pinned at the top of his Facebook page is a list of social media platforms (yes, even Tiktok) to connect with him. Moulmein-Cairnhill residents can also use WhatsApp or Zoom conferencing calls if they wish to speak to him.

“We try to be more responsive during this pandemic when there are lots of uncertainties and anxieties,” he told Straits Times.

He added that there have been many questions pertaining to the different policies and safe management measures over the course of the pandemic.

Liang Eng Hwa, MP for Bukit Panjang SMC

Mr Liang Eng Hwa also prefers a more personal form of communication.

He told Straits Times that meet ups done at residents’ homes can be arranged, especially those who are not mobile. While emails are the preferred mode of communication for most, older residents prefer phone calls.

“Many residents are surprised when I call them. I usually keep the conversation less formal and more relaxed. Often it is like having a chat with a close friend.”

He added that talking on the phone is more convenient as they are not required to be at the Meet-the-People session physically.

Gan Siow Huang, MP for Marymount SMC

The Minister of State for Education and Manpower conducts her MPS in a hybrid mode of virtual and physical sessions.

Ms Gan also has a Telegram channel where residents can receive the latest news on community events such as Marymount’s food rescue programme, alerts from public agencies and schedules of her house visits.

Baey Yam Keng, MP for Tampines GRC (Tampines North)

For Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng, reaching out digitally is something he does regularly.

He started KopiTalk, a monthly live chat on Facebook and Zoom that his constituents can ask him any questions or give him any feedback.

Mr Baey also has an active presence on TikTok, where he reaches out to younger residents via live chats.

@baeyyamkeng Happy to answer your questions. #livewithBYK #fyp ♬ Butter – 방탄소년단 (BTS)

He told Straits Times: “It does mean that engagement has become 24/7, and residents can connect with us anytime, instead of waiting for weekly sessions. We may not always respond immediately, though we will do so for urgent cases.”

With his recent announcement that he has been diagnosed with stage one nose cancer, Mr Baey added that some of his residents have been turning to other MPs in the GRC for help.

“I think they just want me to rest,” he said.

Cover image credit: Alvin Tan, Baey Yam Keng, Gan Siow Huang, Liang Eng Hwa Facebook pages