Heng Swee Keat's annual pre-Budget porridge with colleagues specially made by MOF staff of 47 years

The porridge keeps looking better every year.

Mandy How | February 16, 2021, 12:31 PM

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat will be delivering the Budget Statement on Feb. 16, 2021.

Preparing for the event has been hard work for those in the the Ministry of Finance (MOF) team, Heng wrote on Facebook.

But to cope, MOF's "Porridge Aunty", Auntie Mei Jok, has once again prepared porridge for the team in what has become a yearly tradition.

Besides providing a "morale boost," Heng said the dish is also a rite of passage for young MOF officers.

A behind-the-scenes video by MOF revealed that Auntie Mei Jok has been preparing the pre-Budget porridge since the 70s.

What started out 40 years ago as a "simple" dish has evolved into something quite elaborate.

Here's a bowl of porridge with century egg, shredded fish cake and ham, pickled lettuce, peanuts, and spring onions.

Photo via Heng Swee Keat/Facebook

Adapting to Covid-19

Due to the pandemic, Auntie Mei Jok and her team had to adapt and adhere to safe distancing measures while preparing the porridge.

Heng revealed that the cooking was done by two separate teams, at two different pantries.

The porridge was also individually packed, instead of being served "family style" at the pantry.

Those who were not working from home got to enjoy the "warmth and joy" of home-cooked porridge, Heng added.

In his 2020 post, Heng said then that Auntie Mei Jok has been with MOF for 46 years that year, and helps with their estate management matters.

You can read his most recent post here:

Auntie Mei Jok is camera-shy, though, so the BTS video only has a glimpse of her profile.

Budget 2021

This year's Budget is named the "Emerging Stronger Together Budget."

In a Facebook post on Feb. 15, Heng said that the name was chosen to focus on coming out of the Covid-19 crisis stronger, and forging partnerships to meet the challenges ahead.

The finance minister also signalled that those hoping for generous "red packets" (i.e. monetary benefits) from the Budget might be disappointed.

Heng said, "Importantly, we must continue to be prudent in our spending, and leave a better future for our children."

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Top image via Ministry of Finance, Heng Swee Keat on Facebook