Think Centre mourns the demise of one of its founders

Posted by Think Centre under Breaking News on 14 August 2012

Think Centre mourns the demise of one of its founders, Christopher Neo Ting Wei. Chris as he was fondly known, was a seasoned opposition politician, civil society activist and generous friend to many.

Loss of a patriot, comrade, activist, friend

14 Aug, Singapore - Think Centre (TC), Singapore's oldest established political association, mourns the demise of one of its founders, Christopher Neo Ting Wei, 49. Chris as he was fondly known, was a seasoned opposition politician, civil society activist and generous friend to many.

Chris, a self-made businessman, had been a veteran member of the National Solidarity Party (NSP) and contested in the 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2011 General Elections (GE). When TC was first founded as a business with then-Registry of Companies and Businesses in 1999, its Board of Directors included James Gomez, Sinapan Samydorai, Yaw Shin Leong and Chris himself, in a period where political awareness of Singaporeans was nascent amidst the Government's pilot efforts in remaking Singapore society. He was instrumental in TC's founding years with his practical knowledge of regulatory requirements and responsibilities of political organisations.

In 2001, Chris and Samydorai oversaw the transition of TC from a business to a multi-partisan political society with the Registry of Societies (ROS). TC reached a political milestone on 9 October 2001 when it received news from ROS that its application dated 29 August 2001, was approved. Samydorai became President (2001-2010) while Chris was appointed Treasurer, a post he held concurrent with his appointment to NSP Central Executive Committee. He was elected as Executive Secretary and served from 2003 to 2005 before stepping down as part of TC leadership renewal plans. But he continued to be an active and integral team member, ever ready to nurture new blood to serve TC and Singapore.

Chris was instrumental to key local milestones that TC had achieved over the years - Politics 21 forum series, SHAME magazine, Speakers' Corner anniversary commemoration, Anti-ISA campaign, Ban Landmines campaign, Save JBJ rally, International Human Rights Day celebrations. Regionally, Chris represented TC at various civil society meetings, study trips and consultation workshops. In 2007, he was a key member of the local organising committee for the 3rd Asean Civil Society Conference hosted in Singapore.

Samydorai, current Director of Asean Affairs, hailed Chris for his contribution to Singapore civil society, to local politics and Asean human rights movement, "I am very sad he passed away so suddenly. Chris and I worked as a team to ensure TC continued to be effective and play a relevant role as a civil society organization within Singapore and the ASEAN. He was always willing to help to assist when necessary, to deal with the relevant authorities to apply for licenses, submit the required forms, and be clear headed when dealing with legal matters. Yet he was the one who was fun to be with and made everyone laugh over meals."

Kong Soon Tan, current President, echoed the shock and sorrow at the loss of a political comrade. Tan, who knew Chris from the time he joined TC in 2000, was his Election Agent in Tampines GRC at the 2001 GE. He was struck by how hardworking Chris was in his pre-GE groundwork, running up and down HDB blocks, knocking on every door and stopping to talk to every resident regardless of whether they were locals or foreigners, young or old. Tan recalled how Chris was as generous with friends as he was with strangers he met, "Chris genuinely wanted to serve the people...he was ever ready to help friends, to stand for elections time and again, to champion societal issues, to walk the ground - many times giving from his own pockets to needy residents he met. He was ever ready to give all he could, to the people, to civil society, to politics, to Singapore."

Long-time TC member Anbarasu Balrasan, expressed his condolences and summed up the political life that Chris led, "He truly believed in helping the poor, the underdog in society and his heart was always in the right place."

TC joins fellow political activists in extending deepest condolences and sympathies to the family of Chris. We have lost a patriot, comrade, activist, friend.

Kong Soon Tan

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