Made In Melbourne 行走在墨尔本街道

KEN ONG

Councillor, City of Melbourne, Chairman of Planning

“For me, being a Councillor is not a career path,” claims Cr Ken Ong, a Malaysian-born businessman who is currently serving his second term as Councillor of the City of Melbourne. “My background is in Engineering but I have also been very active in community volunteer work since 1984. I found it very rewarding to help and support non-profit organisations in their work, but I  also discovered that a lot of it is run with very little support from the Government, hence much time is spent on fund-raising. About 15 years ago, it was suggested that maybe I could look at entering politics and try to influence policies that increase support for the non-profit sector.”

This altruistic intention was set in motion when he joined the Liberal Party before trying for a seat in the Victoria State Parliament, back in 2006. “Why the Liberal Party?,” Cr Ong asks before explaining his decision. “Their values of respecting individual rights and supporting the endeavours of individuals to better themselves is something I also adhere to. While I believe that there needs to be social welfare services to support those who need it, those who are able to improve themselves should be encouraged to do so rather than to just receive handouts and not try to do something about getting themselves ahead.”

Failure to get elected did not prevent Cr Ong from trying again in 2008, this time running for the Local Council elections for the City of Melbourne, instead. The first two years following his appointment was focused on Community Services, the Arts and Multicultural Communities, Waste management and the business precincts. “I spent 30-40 hours a week on this “part-time” role in addition to running my own business and other community activities,” says the busy statesman who is keen to walk the talk. “It is not about how much time spent and how much we get paid – for me it is about wanting to achieve outcomes which will improve the city for its people. It is the reason why I entered politics. I believe that we need to achieve and not focus on the politics of the role or the popularity factor which is about votes and getting re-elected. As I mentioned before, it is NOT a career in politics that I am after. As such, I am not about trying to please everyone or please some small group of voters.”

As councillor, Cr Ong has faced his share of challenges in ensuring the world’s most livable city retains its allure. One of the key components is infrastructure, which ironically, is lacking budget allocations despite the predicted growth of people living and working in the city. “We have a saying: “Great streets make great cities”. A great city is designed firstly for people and people will need to use the streets. New developments need to contribute to improving and expanding infrastructure at ground level. Otherwise, one of the key factors of our liveability – urban design and urban landscape and the streets – will be affected negatively,” he points out.

The effects of progress is something that Cr Ong has witnessed first-hand after he moved to Melbourne three decades ago, some for the better and some for worse. “From less than 6,000 residents in the city in the late 1980s, there are now 120,000 residents living in the municipality of the City of Melbourne and a daily weekday population of 900,000. All these changes are actually very good as it has developed into a very cosmopolitan city which is also a centre of sports, arts and culture, food and wine and tertiary education. (But) one thing that has happened in the last 3 to 4 years is the influx of foreign investments which seem to have a view that we can develop Melbourne similar to that of a mega city, with large residential towers which sometimes do not provide for amenities for its residents, that do not respect its neighbours or do enough to respect the streets.”

With so much time dedicated to the city, his business and volunteer projects, its not surprising that moments of leisure are scarce but valued. “My garden provides me with relaxation, reading both fiction and non-fiction and spending time at home relaxing,” says Cr Ong who is married with two  children in university. “Raising children anywhere is a challenge. Raising children in a foreign country has the added challenge of ensuring that they are able to remember their heritage and mother language as well as the cultural values. It is not always easy. In Australia, where nearly half the population are immigrants, it is even harder. However, there are many communities who have groups who try to encourage cultural and language activies to help in this area.”

On the cultural note, Cr Ong who chose to move to Melbourne for the better quality of life it offered, is himself, very involved in the Chinese Association of Victoria, having served  in the committee since 1985. “I believe that our heritage and where we come from is very important in defining our beliefs, our character and how we express ourselves in what we do. Staying close to our roots means we do not forget who we are, where we came from, what we have learnt and experienced, and that we hold them as our underpinning principles. Otherwise, our identity will be lost.”

由于纯粹醉心于城市建设,让这名看起来缺乏政治细胞的男人卷入了政治世界的漩涡中。其实对我来说,政治和议员并非工作计划之一。

Cr Ken Ong-在马来西亚出生的商人,有着专业工程师背景,现在则是墨尔本市议员。从1984年开始,他活跃穿梭于志愿团体中,只因对建设社会的执着。过后我开始清晰认知,如果要成为非营利组织的后盾,那么只有我投身政治,利用其中影响力做出改变。

依循这个目标,他在2006年加入了澳大利亚自由党。自由党的价值观是保护和尊重个人权益,创造一个权利与义务皆受到认同的社会,这个理念也是塑造福利社会所需要的。

在维多利亚州议席选举失利的结果并不影响Ken Ong继续前进的心志。2008年,他终于在墨尔本市议会的选举中胜出,而在当选前两年里,他把工作焦点都集中在社区服务、艺术和多元文化组织、有害废弃物管理和商业区域。

我每周要花费30-40小时在我的兼职工作,并且还要兼顾商业本职和社区活动。这名忙碌的议员边走边说,无关于自己可以取得多少报酬,他认为,让这个城市的人生活得更好才是重点,也是他走向政治的唯一目的。

企求某些群体和小部分人的选票不在我的概念中。

作为负责规划的市议员,他最大挑战的就是进行更完善的基设组构,但面对的是紧涩的预算分配。我们常说,好的街道才是构成完美城市的基础。新的发展蓝图将扩建和改善地面基设结构,否则墨尔本的宜居关键因素将受到负面影响,尤其是我们的城市设计、景观和规划。

至于这个城市进步所带来的改变是什么?他回忆迁移到墨尔本的30年间变化:80年代后期不到6000个居民的城市,拓展到现有12万居民,目前为日均(平常日)有90万人口流动的直辖市,实际上已经是国际化的城市。墨尔本除了是体育、艺术和文化中心,甚至成为高等教育的中心,当然我们也拥有美食与美酒。

不过,他认为,在近3-4年,涌入太庞大的外资和人口也会对居住基设,城市和街道造成一定的负荷。

紧迫的工作日程使他的私人空间几乎被压缩,因此,家中的花园和阅读爱好是他休闲的避风港。谈到家庭生活,他两个孩子已是大学生。

在非土生土长的国家养育孩子,父母有义务让孩子记住自己的母语和文化价值,这个非简单任务;在澳大利亚,有近一半的人口是外来移民,情况更艰难。当然,许多社区群体都会在激活母语和文化上提供协助,试图鼓励大家铭记本身的传统文化。

1985年开始,他就是维多利亚州华人协会的委员。我相信,传统和根源界定我们的信仰、性格和表达能力,勿忘自己是谁,否则将会丢失本质。