SINGAPORE: Businessman and former politician Yaw Shin Leong passed away on Friday (10 November) at the young age of 47. His untimely death was announced on Facebook late on Tuesday (14 Nov), while the circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear.

Mr Yaw, who also goes by the name Amos Rao, was a Member of Parliament representing Workers’ Party (WP) stronghold Hougang SMC from 2011 to 2012. His family said, in a heartfelt post on his Amos Rao Facebook page: “Our hearts are broken with grief. You left us too soon, too sudden. You have touched our lives in so many different ways. We celebrate your life and celebrate your legacy. Your sudden passing leaves a void in our hearts that cannot be filled. We know you are in a better place. We love you deeply. You will live on forever in our hearts. Rest in Peace, Amos. Beloved Husband, Papa, Brother, Leader and Soldier.”

The family has invited Singaporeans to join them in a celebration of Mr Yaw’s life, honouring “the joy, wisdom and love he shared so generously.” The Celebration of Life will be open from Friday, 17 Nov to Sunday, 19 Nov at Maxwell Hall, Level 7, Woodlands Memorial. The Memorial Service will take place on Saturday, 18 Nov at 7pm.

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In a note to the media, the family requested privacy as they said: “Shin Leong’s passion for Singapore, his service in the National Service, and his contributions beyond politics have left indelible marks. We request the media to honour our need for privacy during this challenging time, as we remember and reflect on his profound impact.”

Born in 1976, Mr Yaw was raised by a single parent after his father died when he was 13. His widowed mother scrimped and saved to bring up his younger sister and himself and supported them through tertiary education.

Mr Yaw served as a medic with the Singapore Armed Forces and went on to study political science and sociology at the National University of Singapore. He later received an MBA from the University of Western Sydney. He worked in the education sector, running his own enrichment programme development firm, aside from working as a lecturer.

Mr Yaw made his political foray in 2001 when he joined the WP and was elected to the party’s highest decision-making body – the Central Executive Committee (CEC) – a year later.

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In the 2006 Singapore General Election, Mr Yaw was the candidate and leader of the WP team that contested the Prime Minister’s seat of Ang Mo Kio GRC.

Made up largely of young, first-time candidates under the age of 35, the team was dubbed the “suicide squad” by the media, and the People’s Action Party (PAP) chairman Lim Boon Heng boldly predicted that the Prime Minister’s team would win 80 to 85% of the votes, putting the “suicide squad” at risk of losing their deposits.

However, Mr Yaw’s team secured over one-third of the votes against the PAP team led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Yaw became the WP candidate for Hougang SMC during the 2011 Singapore General Election after the former MP, party leader Low Thia Khiang, opted to vacate his seat of 20 years to contest in Aljunied GRC.

Mr Low gave Mr Yaw his strong personal endorsement after explaining to the voters of Hougang that his decision to leave was one of the most difficult decisions in his life.

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On 7 May 2011, Mr Yaw won the Hougang SMC with 64.8% of the vote, beating Desmond Choo of the PAP, who took 35.1% of the vote. His margin of victory was the highest ever achieved by the WP since it first won the constituency in 1991.

Mr Yaw never returned to politics. Under the name/alias Amos Rao, he ventured to Myanmar to work as the senior vice president of Shenton Co, a private education training institute. He also served as the general manager of three subsidiaries in Myanmar, including Temasek International College, which awards degrees and diplomas in international business and hospitality.