By Howard Lee
In what could be a rarity for Singapore civil society and politics, animal rights activists Louis Ng has announced that he will be entering politics, joining the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).
Mr Ng, the founder and executive director of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), made the announcement on his Facebook page, saying that many have asked if he intends to enter politics, including joining opposition parties.
“I’ve given this serious thought for some time. My choice was to join the PAP.”
Mr Ng said that he has been campaigning for animal rights in Singapore for more than a decade, and “there is no doubt that things are indeed changing in Singapore for the better, for both the animals and the wider community.”
“The public knows me as a very strong advocate for animal welfare. While we may not see eye to eye on all issues, I have explored working with various MPs, political officeholders and government agencies in order to further the cause. I’ve seen that things can change when we work from within.”
Why not any other political party? “Other parties have not voiced out as much. I’d engage all politicians, and will work with any party that seeks to champion animal welfare. ACRES remains a non-political organisation.”
Mr Ng also shared that he has been working closely with Law Minister K Shanmugam since 2008. Apart from animal rights issues, he has also been helping residents at his meet-the-people sessions, serving in the Community Club Management Committee and also as the Animal Welfare and Environment Secretary in the Youth Executive Committee.
“The experience (working with the government) has been positive. I have been able to push a number of issues, press for policy changes, and I intend to continue with ACRES and advocacy work.”
He cited the Animal Welfare Legislation Review Committee, which he has been working on with other animal welfare groups for the past two years, as “one of the best outcomes”.
Mr Ng admitted that while some might see the government’s efforts in animal rights as minor policy shifts, he also indicated that the increase in engagement post-GE2011 was a positive sign.
Some of the positive developments include the keeping of cats in HDB flats, preventing the culling of stray cats in Chong Pang, and the annual Chong Pang Animal Protection Forums.
He cited the increased penalties for animal cruelty offences that will be discussed in Parliament next month as “one of the best examples of our success.”
“This year, I’ve started serving in the Kembangan-Chai Chee constituency and will now initiate projects in this constituency under Minister Tan Chuan-Jin. We have many projects in the pipeline and will be rolling them out in the next few months and years.”
“Although I started out focusing on animal welfare, and will continue to do so, I have come to realise the impact that we can make on many fronts. I’m keen on also working on projects focusing on bringing back the kampong spirit and helping to break the poverty cycle in the less fortunate families.”
Some of his followers have already asked if his entry into politics will affect his advocacy work. Mr Ng’s fight to free the Resorts World Sentosa dolphins would notably pit him against the government, some noted.
Yet despite his political affiliations, he maintained that ACRES is and will always remain close to his heart.
“I'm still the same Louis,” he said with a smile.