PAP founding member, 87, dies from heart failure

PAP founding member, 87, dies from heart failure
PM Lee (above) visiting the wake of Mr Lee Gek Seng at Mount Vernon Sanctuary on Monday night.

MR LEE Gek Seng, a pioneering unionist and a founding member of the People's Action Party, died last Saturday from heart failure, said family members. He was 87.

Mr Lee was among the PAP's 14 convenors when the party was officially inaugurated on Nov 21, 1954, and one of 11 men on the party's first pro-tem committee.

On Monday, politicians, unionists, community leaders and family paid tribute to a man they described as humble, self-sacrificial and a generous mentor.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited the wake at Mount Vernon Sanctuary late on Monday night, spending close to an hour speaking to the family and looking at old photos of Mr Lee.

He also noted in a Facebook post Mr Lee's many contributions, including serving as PAP deputy secretary-general and as a community leader in Jalan Besar and Toa Payoh.

PM Lee said he had just met Mr Lee at last month's Pioneer Generation party at the Istana. "He came in a wheelchair, but was clearly very happy to be there. Now he has left us."

In a condolence letter to Mr Lee's elder son, Lionel, NTUC president Diana Chia and secretary-general Lim Swee Say praised Mr Lee for the instrumental role he played in setting up the Singapore Union of Postal and Telecommunications Workers in 1947 and later, in forming the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE).

It was formed from a merger of Mr Lee's former union and the Union of Postal and Telecommunications Uniformed Staff.

He then went on to serve as general secretary of the postal and telecommunications branch of AUPE for 20 years and remained an AUPE trustee after he retired.

In their letter, Mr Lim and Ms Chia said Mr Lee had staved off promotion at Singapore Telecoms for more than 20 years so that he could continue being a unionist to represent and fight for workers.

Mr Lim said Mr Lee "laid a very strong foundation" in expanding the public sector into a core pillar of the labour movement and building up AUPE to the No. 1 union in NTUC's public sector arm.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.
Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.