In Pictures – 60 years of Meet(ing)-the-People  

18/03/2024

These days, technology has brought us closer than ever to one another. Through social media, each of our MPs is practically a DM away. However, one of the most enduring aspects of communication has remained the same – that of the Meet-the-People Sessions (MPS). It is the human touch of reaching out, understanding ground sentiments and helping needy residents. After all, when you think about it, politics at the grassroots is both hard- and heart work. 

In recognition of all our MPs who have served tirelessly for their communities, here’s a look back at the many MPS through the years. 

1960: A crowd gathers, waiting patiently outside the Singapore Improvement Trust, where then-Minister for National Development Ong Eng Guan holds his MPS.   

1961: Then-Minister for Finance Dr Goh Keng Swee squeezes in a meal during MPS, an occupational hazard that continues to this day for many MPs and volunteers.  

1964: Mr Lee Kuan Yew might be better known as our founding father. But to residents of Tanjong Pagar, he was also their MP for six decades. As Prime Minister, Mr Lee chaired and attended numerous MPS all over Singapore, answering questions during constituency tours.  

1965: Mr Lee and community leaders raised their hands in unity during MPS in Pulau Tekong, which was once home to over 5,000 Singaporeans before the island became synonymous with the army.  

1972: To really meet the people, home visits are a must. Former Hong Lim MP Lee Khoon Choy is seen here at one such MPS. 

1978: Long before he became known as the ‘people’s president’, Mr Ong Teng Cheong had been serving Singaporeans as an MP for Kim Keat. He is seen here at an MPS in his constituency.  

1982: How did information get transmitted before emails and text messaging? Via an old-school, hand-written poster (of course) plastered at the void deck notifying residents about an upcoming MPS with Dr Goh Keng Swee. 

1988: There was a time when Pulau Ubin was a heartland like any other. During an impromptu visit, former Changi MP Teo Chong Tee met up with Ubin residents to assist them with their problems.  

1992: Meeting the MP might be considered the main event, but to this day, MPS would not run as smoothly without the help of volunteers. And if the Chinese calligraphy on the wall is any indication, ‘for country, for people’ has long been the philosophy behind their desire to serve. 

2012: Besides his day job managing the country, Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong continues his duties as MP in Teck Ghee. “I always find it useful to listen to my residents’ problems…(and) we always do our best to help wherever we can,” shared PM Lee. 

2015: Plenty of administrative work goes on behind every MPS. For MP Tin Pei Ling, checking appeal letters for accuracy is a way to understand the issues her residents are facing. “They have come to us for help and hope…(and) my team and I endeavour to represent our residents as best as we can,” said Ms Tin.  

2019: One of the longest serving politicians, Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam, at his weekly MPS. At this point, it is hard to imagine that he has dedicated over 35 years to helping the residents of Chong Pang.  

2020: With safe management measures in place because of COVID-19, it was a challenging year for MPS to go as planned. For Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, conducting virtual MPS over Zoom during this period ensures that Cashew residents with challenging issues can always find the help they need. 

2020: Getting creative with MPS venues, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee uses an open community space to meet Boon Lay residents with urgent needs.  

2021: MPS is a chance for all Singaporeans, young and old, to get their voices heard. As MP Mariam Jaafar said: “It’s always been about people”.  

2023: The moment that makes all the hard work and effort worth it – knowing that their actions have made a difference. Here is MP Sim Ann receiving a thank-you note from a resident.  

2024: For residents of Limbang, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong continues to be a friendly and familiar face on his regular house visits. “Always good to be on the ground engaging residents,” said DPM Wong.  

Photo Source: National Archives/ Mariam Jaafar/ Sim Ann/ Tin Pei Ling/ K Shanmugam/ Desmond Lee/ Vivian Balakrishnan/ Lee Hsien Loong via Facebook