01 April 2013 18:15
Yam Ah Mee bids adieu to 38 years of civil service

The farewell party was held at People’s Association Headquarters last week

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Photos: Kymie Hwang
Video: Teng Siew Eng

Singapore’s most popular Returning Officer and former Chief Executive Director of the People's Association (PA), Yam Ah Mee, served the last day of his 38 years in the public sector on Mar 28, following his resignation in January. The 56-year-old will join Sembcorp Design and Construction as Managing Director in April.   

The farewell party, termed as “Yam Seng Day”, saw the attendance of 600 employees at the PA Headquarters. PA Deputy Chairman, Minister Lim Swee Say and Special Adviser to PA Mr Lim Boon Heng also graced the event.

In his speech, Mr Yam showed his appreciation to his staff and to grassroots leaders in the various districts. He also expressed his thanks to Mr Lim Boon Heng for bringing him into PA, and to Minister Lim Swee Say for his assistance in widening outreach to the community.  

Mr Lim Boon Heng revealed that Mr Yam was tasked to manage Jurong Green Community Club when he first joined the PA as a test of his capabilities to work at the grassroots level. He was later found to be extremely competent and was thus recommended to the Prime Minister for the Chief Executive Director (CED) position.

“Even though he is the shortest serving CED, I must say he is the CED who has made the greatest impact on PA,” said Minister Lim Swee Say, who also sang praises of Mr Yam’s passion and sense of responsibility.  

Health Promotion Board (HPB) Chief Executive Ang Hak Seng, who will take over the helm, has spent the last month familiarising himself with the operations of the PA. At the farewell party last week, he mentioned that he will still contact keep in contact with Mr Yam, saying, “once a grassroots leader, always a grassroots leader”.

Mr Yam became an overnight online sensation during the 2011 General Election when he was the Returning Officer announcing the election results with his now-reknowned monotonous tone and straight face. Some netizens even uploaded clips with his voice as the background music onto video-sharing websites.

According to the PA, this is the first time a farewell event for the board’s CED is open to the media. At the party, many grassroots leaders commented that though Mr Yam is known for his emotionless demeanour on stage during the elections, he is actually very lively and cheerful in person. And the well-liked leader displayed that side of him when he entertained the crowd with a ukulele performance.

Mr Gerald Lim, Chairman of Tampines Central Citizens Consultative Committee, even suggested that given his popularity, Mr Yam consider running in the next election.

When asked if he would take up the suggestion, Mr Yam simply replied that he will be working in the private sector after he ends his journey as a civil servant.

Click through the gallery to recap the highlights of Yam Ah Mee’s career in the PA!

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