Jose Raymond made his political debut at 45, joining the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) earlier this year with a mission to make a difference in the lives of Singaporeans, particularly in the Potong Pasir constituency.
His drive to give however, can be traced back to his time as a teenager, going around with his late father to listen to the Chiam See Tong’s speeches. In 1984, Mr Chiam made history by winning the Potong Pasir MP seat – it was a day that 13 year old Jose Raymond would not forget.
Four years later during the 1988 General Election, Jose would listen to Mr Chiam’s speeches at rallies and help his father hand out manifestos to the residents in Sennett Estate.
“My father drove a blue pickup truck to distribute the manifestos and I helped him by sitting at the back of the pickup truck, and pass the stacks of manifestos to him at every stop. I still have the party shirt which my father wore during the 1988 General Elections.”
But the moment that really changed their lives happened in 1990 when their home in Jurong West St 42 was compulsorily acquired by HDB as a result of non-payment. Unable to pay the deposit for the downgraded flat, Jose’s father sought Mr Chiam’s help.
And as you probably know, Mr Chiam came through. He wrote cheque to pay for the deposit, effectively putting a roof over their heads. From that one moment of pure kindness and generosity, Jose Raymond was able to kick-start his life and carry with him a strong spirit of giving.
Now 28 years later, Jose Raymond has carved out an impressive name for himself, having served as press secretary to a minister, vice president to the Singapore swimming association, chief executive of Singapore Environment counsel from 2011 to 2014, forming his own communications company SPIN Worldwide, and served as the Deputy Chairman (now on the board) of Mr Chiam See Tong’s sports foundation.
When asked how that moment of generosity changed his approach to life, Jose Raymond notes that “everyone, regardless of their backgrounds, will need help at some point in their lives and it is important that we are there to help them.” It’s clear that the spirit of giving has only grown stronger over the years.
On why he chose to join the opposition instead of the People’s Action Party (PAP) when he had helped them prior to the General Election 2015, Mr Raymond notes that this is his gratitude to Mr Chiam for what he has done for his family, and to continue the work which he started with the blend of politics Mr Chiam brought to the system. “Our role is to help as many people as possible”.
Jose Raymond recalls a recent moment where he raised an issue on behalf of a Potong Pasir resident and consequently, by raising the issue, that resident has been able to secure a job and provide for his family. Taking it one significant moment at a time, Jose Raymond is on a mission to help one person each day, to change one life every day, echoing that small gesture by Mr Chiam all those years ago. It’s a legacy that continues to live on in Jose Raymond’s life and which he hopes will continue to grow, paid forward by the people he has helped.
Of course, that wasn’t the only thing that Jose Raymond learned from Mr Chiam. Remembering his early teen years listening to Mr Chiam’s speeches during the 1984 election rallies, Jose says he was captivated. “The one ideal which has stuck for me is being pro-Singaporean every time, all the time”, he said. One quick look through his Facebook page seems to reinforce that core ideal.
Thought Jose Raymond is a fresh on the political map, he seems keen on working for the support of Potong Pasir residents and Singapore as a whole through a sincere intention of being as generous as possible.