Jennie Chua: Time to bring in fresh thinking at ComChest

SINGAPORE - The Community Chest's longest-serving chairman Jennie Chua is stepping down next month, believing that it is time for new blood.

"Once you are the longest serving, you need to review and ask if you are bringing in the same value as you did before," said the 69-year-old hotelier, who has been chairman for the past 14 years.

"I enjoy ComChest activities a lot, but maybe I am in my comfort zone and cruising. It's time to bring in fresh thinking."

She will be succeeded by Mr Phillip Tan, who is vice-president of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) board.

In thanking Ms Chua for her service, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing yesterday pointed out in a press release how the organisation not only widened its reach, but also collected more funds than ever under her leadership.

Despite increasing competition from other organisations, it raised $72.3 million last year, a new high for the charity.

Her successor, Mr Tan, wants ComChest, the fund-raising arm of the NCSS, to continue focusing on raising money to fund the work of other charities here.

But he may also broaden its role by providing temporary financial aid for families or individuals in emergencies, he revealed.

"For example, if it's a family with many kids and they lose their sole breadwinner, we may consider providing emergency financial aid," said the 64-year-old, who has been involved in volunteer work here since 1983.

"Or we can connect them with voluntary welfare organisations to tide them over.

"Our aid would be temporary; we won't replace the Government.

But getting welfare from the Government takes time."

He also hopes to increase Com-Chest's activities with children, cultivate the spirit of charity among the young and increase the charity's engagement with the community.

Said the group finance director at CityState Capital Asia: "We want to organise activities to bring the community together - charity is not only about money, it is also about looking out for your neighbour."

Besides being the vice-president of NCSS since 2006, Mr Tan is currently the chairman of the Yellow Ribbon Fund Committee while actively contributing to other charitable organisations.

Ms Chua, who will remain an adviser to ComChest, believes that the charity, which began in 1983, will continue to make a difference in Singaporeans' lives.

She said: "ComChest has been around for a long time. It is a brand name people can trust and give their money to, in good times or in bad."

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.