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SG50: WP’s Yee Jen Jong Shares His 50 Years Growing Up in Singapore and Hopes for the Future

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A little piece here from the Workers’ Party’s Yee Jenn Jong, who’s currently a non-constituency MP in parliament. He shares with us more on growing up in Singapore over the last 50 years. Jenn Jong was born in 1965, which makes him as old as an independent Singapore!

YEE JENN JONG: I grew up in Opera Estate, living with my parents – both of them teachers – and three siblings.

Just behind our house was Kampong Chai Chee, which had some small farms then. The farmers would sometimes take food waste from our house for their animals and give us eggs on festive occasions.

Afternoons were usually spent exploring the neighbourhood on my rickety bicycle, or playing with neighbours. Once in a while, we would get a supper treat when dad came home with his pay from giving tuition.

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I have happy memories of schooling, which were all in neighbourhood schools in the east. Many of my friends went through the same schools from primary school till junior college.

I remember the numerous campaigns in schools, such as Use Your Hands (encouraging students to take care of their surroundings), Anti-littering, Courtesy, and so on. I enjoyed these campaigns and other shared experiences with my peers.

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I now have children of my own. My wish is to see a more resilient new generation of Singaporeans so that we can chart a better future for our children.

My wish for Singapore politics in the next 50 years:

I hope to see a more resilient political system, where people of different ideologies can play their parts to develop Singapore, and where there are strong and independent institutions to provide checks and balances for a stronger democracy.

I have always believed that Singapore has enough talent for more than one team. I hope to see the day that enough people will come forward in the political scene so that there will be viable alternatives in the political system.

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Yes, growing up in Singapore was memorable. I could only use about 200 words for the ST article. I had found other interesting photos while searching for the above for ST, which I have inserted here.

I went to St. Stephen’s School near my house because dad wanted us to have an English-based education. My parents were Chinese teachers but they realised that it would be a dead end for us to go to a Chinese school given the strong switch to English as the medium of education throughout Singapore then. Most of my schoolmates and I graduated to St. Patrick’s for secondary school and later to Temasek Junior College. We studied hard but we also played hard. I ended up taking part in five CCA groups in college, something unheard of these days.

I had received my education entirely in Singapore, including for my postgraduate courses. It was during my working years that I got to travel more widely and became exposed to different forms for governance and political systems. I started to write to the forum pages of newspapers and international magazines.

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