Obituary: Comrade Chai Chong Yii (1935 – 2022) – A man who made Bukit Batok a stronghold


Comrade Chai Chong Yii passed on peacefully in his sleep on May 3, 2022. He was 87.

Under the Party banner, Comrade Chai first entered politics in 1972, when he contested in the then new Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency.

He won 73.78 per cent of the total votes and became the first MP for Bukit Batok and received strong support from Bukit Batok residents in the subsequent three elections. In the 1976 general elections, he even won by 84.57 per cent – second only to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s 89.03 per cent at Tanjong Pagar.

Under his strong stewardship, Bukit Batok SMC became a stronghold for the Party.

Career in office

After his win in 1972, he was appointed Minister of State for Education. Two years later, he changed portfolio, becoming Minister of State for Transport. Finally, in 1976, he returned to Ministry of Education, this time as Senior Minister of State.

During his time in MOE, he introduced the Special Assistance Plan in 1979, developing and promoting bilingualism in Singapore. He also contributed in the merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University to become National University of Singapore in 1980.

Comrade Chai was also one of the first graduates of Nantah and later became the Bursar at the university. He was also Honorary Advisor of Chin Kang Association, which paid tribute to him in a Facebook post.

It said: “As an advisor, Mr Chai always supported and cared for the development of the Chin Kang Association. We are sorry for his passing and we offer our condolences to his family.”

Comrade Chai is survived by his wife Mdm Khor Phaik Tin, three children and six grandchildren.

Thank you for your contributions to Singapore. Farewell, Comrade Chai.

Photo credit: National Archives Singapore