Obituary: PAP stalwart Ch’ng Jit Koon, praised for being “absolutely first-rate”, dies at 90 


Ch’ng Jit Koon, a People’s Action Party stalwart and a former Senior Minister of State, passed away on March 1. He was 90. 

Comrade Ch’ng entered politics in 1968. He served as MP in Tiong Bahru for over 28 years, from 1968 to 1991, and then later in Bukit Merah from 1991 to 1996. He dedicated himself to looking after his residents and improving their lives. He was also second adviser to Tanjong Pagar grassroots from 1975 to 1996.  

He served as Senior Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, and later Minister of State and Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Community Development. 

In a Facebook post on March 2, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid tribute to Mr Ch’ng, whom he called “a treasured Old Guard comrade”. 

He recalled that founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had lauded Mr Ch’ng for being “absolutely first-rate” and possessed “excellent interpersonal skills”.  

“Even after retiring as an MP in 1996, he kept up ties with the residents and remained a familiar face in his old constituencies.”  

PM Lee commended Mr Ch’ng for his service in the Cabinet. He was tasked with connecting government leaders to the people, a mission he carried out wholeheartedly, he said. 

“In fact, it was Jit Koon who had put forward the idea of Ministerial walkabouts, a practice which the Party still continues to this day.”  
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong noted on Facebook on Mar 2 that Mr Ch’ng had chaired the committee which organised the Ministerial walkabouts in the 1980s, and “that political exposure was invaluable”. 

“I am immensely indebted to Jit Koon for the part he played in my political journey.  

I learnt a lot from him. I value his friendship and advice in handling the political ground.” 

In a Facebook post on Mar 2, President Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Mr Ch’ng served the country with humility, and was “profoundly Singaporean in his instincts”.  

“He had a down-to-earth way of interacting with people of all backgrounds. Never hesitating to help when asked.” 

Mr Ch’ng was influential and respected in the Chinese community, PM said, noting that he worked hard to “foster unity within the Chinese community, and strengthen the Chinese identity in our multicultural society”. 

In the late 1970s, Mr Ch’ng lent his voice to support the “difficult decision” to merge Nanyang University with the University of Singapore. The new entity became the National University of Singapore.  

He also played a key role in the formation of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clans Associations in 1985, and served for over two decades on the Chinese Development Assistance Council’s board of trustees.  

Mr Ch’ng was also the founding chairman of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCMPB) Practitioners Board in 2001 and served for six years.  

In a Facebook post on Mar 2, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung mentioned that under Mr Ch’ng’s leadership, TCMPB had completed acupuncturists and TCM physician registration, established registration examination system, published an Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines for TCM Practitioners, and upgraded local TCM training from diploma to degree level.  

“He set the standard for future generations of leaders to follow and we are grateful for his many valuable contributions. Thank you for your service.”  

Mr Ch’ng leaves behind his wife, four children and their families. 

Source of feature image: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission