If you thought Yee Jenn Jong only started serving the community after entering politics, you would be way off the mark.
Mr Yee, a Workers’ Party (WP) member who became a Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) in 2011 after the general election, has in fact always been involved in the community – whether it was in school, in his working life or now, as a politician.
“For College, For Nation” was the motto of his alma mater, Temasek Junior College, which he has lived by all his life.
He has since been involved – as executive committee or board member – in various government policy workgroup committees, in schools, national committees and non-profit organisations.
Mr Yee has also served in other committees, including the ACE subcommittee on start-ups and he has received MOE’s Long Service Award (2012), for service to TJC College Advisory Committee, and the TJC Distinguished Alumnus award (2013).
These organisations continue to be supportive of his work.
“When I was about to join politics,” Mr Yee told The Online Citizen (TOC), “I wrote to all the organisations I was then serving in and asked if they like me to step down prior to my announcement as candidate for WP. All told me to stay on and wished me well.”
In GE 2011, Mr Yee narrowly lost to the PAP candidate in Joo Chiat SMC by a mere 355 votes.
When the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) released it new electoral map for the upcoming elections, Joo Chiat SMC was wiped off the map when it was absorbed into Marine Parade GRC.
Understandably, Mr Yee was upset as he had been making visits and fostering relationships in the constituency for many years, before and after the last elections.
But he was not going to let that be a setback.
“The day after EBRC was published,” Mr Yee explained, “I asked the party to allow me to lead a team to Marine Parade GRC as I take voters’ support seriously and had said I would be back.”
“Many parts of Marine Parade GRC were contested by WP in the past with close results. Eunos, Kg Chai Chee, Kembangan, Ubi, Joo Chiat were either SMCs or parts of GRCs that had given strong support to WP in the past.”
“We decided to contest MP also because we cannot allow the ruling party to game the electoral system for their benefit,” he said. “I have always believed that if people push you around, one should stand up and challenge back.”
It took him only a few days to put a team together, a team made up of those who had already been volunteering in the WP, and whom Mr Yee knew to be committed individuals who would not shy away from such a battle.
TOC sat down with Mr Yee at the Dunman Food Centre, one of the oldest food outlets in Marine Parade, two weeks ago for a chat.