Parting Tribute to Yaw Shin Leong

I am extremely shocked by the Obituary of Shin Leong early in the morning. He was younger than me at 47 yrs old.

I had just dreamt of a coffin and a funeral yesterday morning but didn't know who was inside. Now I know.

I got to know Shin Leong in 2001, when he called me and asked to meet up. He was going through the membership file of Workers Party then and found my record.

Strictly speaking, it was Shin Leong who was the final catalyst that brought me into active political activism.

Shin Leong was the youngest among the new group of WP leaders of 2001 to 2006 era. I regard this period as Political Renaissance of Workers Party.

He was the most energetic and active member of WP, basically working full time for the party. He was the defacto runner for Mr. Low Thia Khiang and Worker's Party.
Shin Leong helped Sylvia Lim to canvass for votes in order to get her elected as Chairman, replacing Dr Tan Beng Seng. It was a period of great tension between the veterans and young new blood.

However I would regard this as the necessary growing pain for an organization. Nothing personal. In fact Dr Tan Beng Seng was still very supportive of Shin Leong both in his entrepreneurship venture as well as his 2006 GE contest in Ang Mo Kio GRC.

A lot of things happened between 2001 and GE2006. Shin Leong helped WP to recruit quite a number of people within a short period of time. He was a sweet talker with great persuasion. WP would not grow that rapidly with lots of new young blood within that short span of time if it was not for Shin Leong's relentless efforts.

Due to his recruitment efforts, he had also built up his strength in the party. While garnering great support base and influence among those whom he had recruited, he was able to connect well to the veterans as well.

However, the tension between Low Thia Khiang and Shin Leong built up due to several incidents just months before GE2006.

Unknown to many people, WP was going through real tough teething time during this period.

I didn't join any of the factions or groups but I was mistakenly seen or regarded as Low Thia Khiang's man. I wasn't really so. I was just myself. If you asked me who was I closest to, I would say it's Goh Seng Soon, not Thia Khiang.

That became a problem between Shin Leong and me. During one of the Hammer sales outreach, Shin Leong walked up to me in a car park and left me a remark, "Meng Seng, you are really a political animal, you are good to get the support of the veterans in such a short time". I was quite stunned to hear that from Shin Leong. Apparently he has regarded me as his "competitor".

But later, I realized it was because of the formation of the Aljunied GRC team, they have decided to put me in as one of the team member instead of Shin Leong.

To be honest, I have never asked to be included in the Aljunied GRC team but was actually more interested in contesting in AMK GRC!

From that day onwards, Shin Leong started to work on forming another team in Sembawang. I told him that Sembawang is not a good ground at all as compared to East Coast. After wasting a couple of months in Sembawang, Shin Leong and his team finally decided to switch to East Coast GRC instead.

There was a great tussle between Thia Khiang and Shin Leong in forming the Sembawang/East Coast team. The original strategy was to focus on Aljunied GRC and Hougang only.

I supported Shin Leong's effort to expand the battleground. I even wanted to form the AMK GRC team because I knew we have the numbers.

Even though I was asked to contest in Aljunied GRC, I was still planning for AMK team. Unknown to me, Shin Leong was also quietly planning for it.

During the CNY grassroot dinner in 2006, I told Shin Leong of my intention. I told him that we should be able to get at least 32% if our party contested in AMK. The Maths were all there.

Realistically, we were not expecting to win Aljunied GRC at all. Our realistic assessment was at most 45% for Aljunied. We knew we have to prepare ourselves for the next GE after 2006. Whoever lead the team to contest in AMK would gain the necessary political capital for the next GE.

Shin Leong sped up to secure the funds for his AMK team and approached Thia Khiang after knowing my intention. He got what he wanted.

Although I was very disappointed that I wasn't able to contest the AMK GRC myself, but I was very happy for Shin Leong and his team's performance. We all knew WP will never be the same again after GE2006.

After GE2006, WP had a massive influx of members and we had to re elect and appoint new key appointment holders. I have suggested to Thia Khiang that Shin Leong should become the President of Youth Wing but Thia Khiang disagreed and cited his reason. I was quite shocked to learned about the reason but it was a compelling reason which I couldn't argue with.

I met Shin Leong for the last time face to face in 2011 right before GE. I was the SG of NSP then.

He wasn't friendly towards me and told me "Meng Seng, you know, we will not contest Tampines this time round but we will contest next round...".

I was shocked and felt bad about it, not because of his "threat" but rather how politics had changed our past comradeship into such hostility.

He had somewhat made me a more important adversary than PAP. I always thought our common aim is to build Democracy for Singapore and PAP is the major obstacle.

But I forgave him for such hostility. It's in his character of great competitiveness which provided the much needed passion and boost to go all out in what he did.

When YSL saga first broke out, I wasn't surprised at all as it's just a matter of time. But I felt that he should have just apologized but stayed on as an MP. This was after all, his personal matters. I tried calling him but it was cut off. I tried to see him in his MPS but he avoided me totally.

Both Seng Soon and I felt really bad that we have lost a good comrade and politician.
Everyone has flaws and not a saint. Shin Leong was no exception.

But Shin Leong has played a very important role in WP's Political Renaissance in almost every aspects. Together with the team, he has helped to bring WP up from its doldrums of GE 2001 in many ways.

He may not be perfect in his dealings with many things but nobody could deny that he was an important catalyst and played an important role in WP's Growth.

Farewell Shin Leong. It's regrettable that you had regarded me as some political adversary but I will still always regard you as a comrade in this long path of Democratic struggle.

Rest in Peace.


Goh Meng Seng



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11 Responses to “Parting Tribute to Yaw Shin Leong”

  • PAP mandate strong:

    Mr Yaw too young. With regards!

    Passed away in China ?
    So Mr GMS , no conclusion this round ?Blame China or again … mrna ?

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  • rice:

    Actually,his affair is his and his wife’s personal affairs.
    Even Clinton continued in his presidency?

    He could be a better OPPO Leader than the PAP ANOINTED ONE?

    RIP, AMOS.

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  • RIP:

    So young …

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  • Climate change is the cause?:

    Taken down by drastic climate change?

    The culprit is not mRNA vaccines for sure.

    Middle Kingdom was and still is reluctant to inject their citizens with mRNA vaccines!

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  • Light The Way:

    Those who wish ill upon others will be a nobody when it’s time to up lorry.

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  • So sorry to hear about that, such a young age.

    I wonder if his PRC mistress knows about this?

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  • SingaporeRide:

    November 17, 2023 at 10:48 am (Quote)
    So sorry to hear about that, such a young age.
    I wonder if his PRC mistress knows about this?

    @TRE Tech:

    Looking at your responses on China affair and this, I think I finally can conclude your personality.

    You could do a low blow to a dead, astonishing honestly.

    Tech: So showing concern for his mistress is a “low blow”?

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  • Alakarimacam:

    Amos Yee is incarcerated in a U.S. prison because of woman.

    Amos Rao lost his MP seat because of extra marital affairs.

    Check the names of the US President since independence, none of them were having the name of Amos.

    British Kings preferred the names of Charles, Edward…..none of them had chosen Amos as their names.

    Australian PM since independence also saw an absence of Amos.

    If any one intends to adopt an Angmomiah, please avoid Amos.

    It might not be auspicious. The presidents, Kings and prime ministers of Anglo Saxon countries overwhelmingly took names other than Amos for reasons only god knows!

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  • Singaporean R Free Rider:

    Pro demoncracy who supported Amos Yee, where are you now?

    Hello, Dr Chee, Ravi, Philip, has you all gone into hiding?
    Amos Yee is enjoying his freedom now in America.
    Singaporean blogger Amos Yee indicted in US on child porn charges

    Do not blindly support Opposition.

    Check their background. He could be another Amos Yee.

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  • Cockado:

    GMS can say all he wants to say about Yaw, but the latter is not around to defend or contradict the statements made about him!

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  • Lie Cheat Steal and Kill:

    Somewhat similar to those “condolence”, dagger-on-your-coffin, self-congratulatory letters sent by pee and poo.

    GMS can say all he wants to say about Yaw, but the latter is not around to defend or contradict the statements made about him!

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