This 'small brother' wants to pay it back

Name: Chee Hong Tat
Age: 41
Ward contesting: Thomson-Toa Payoh

He was a high flyer within the civil service.

The former Principal Private Secretary to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Chee recently left his post as Second Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry to contest the elections.

The career civil servant - he joined after graduating with two degrees, one in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, another in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Adelaide, Australia - is the son of Chinese-educated parents.

He was brought up to recognise the source of his success and to "pay it back", he said earnestly in Mandarin.

Speaking in Hokkien, he drew smiles when he referred to himself as a "small brother" at the introductory session yesterday.

"If you want to do it, then you should do it well. This is what I believe in. This 'small brother' here hopes to have an opportunity to serve the residents," he said.

The father of four admits he had a late start with grassroots work. In 2013, he helped out at Marine Parade, assisting Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong to set up the WeCare@Marine Parade initiative, which aims to help vulnerable residents in the area.

He is also a volunteer with Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises' training committee, which focuses on skills training for inmates and helping them to find jobs after they are released.

The decision to enter politics was not easy, he conceded, as both he and his wife were concerned that their four children, aged between four and 15, will be affected.

"But I was driven by a firm belief that Singapore needs a strong government at this crucial stage of its development...

"So I persuaded my wife to support my decision. If I am able to contribute to my country through politics, I should step forward to serve and do my part to improve the lives of Singaporeans," he said.


"One of my priorities is to meet as many residents as I can, to hear from our residents how we can enhance their living environment.

"So this includes looking at improving the infrastructure...We have quite a significant elderly population in Bishan-Toa Payoh, and residents would like to have exercise corners for the elderly.

"Residents have also told me that they would like to see walkways to make it more convenient for them, and green spaces for them to enjoy their estates..."