Made In Melbourne 行走在墨尔本街道


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.”


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。


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。