A steadfast and courageous comrade, this was how founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew described his fellow PAP stalwart Chor Yeok Eng.
Mr Chor joined the People’s Action Party (PAP) in 1955 soon after its founding. As a young man growing up, Mr Chor had his studies disrupted due to family hardship and war. During the Japanese Occupation, he witnessed atrocities, cruelty and injustice. The experiences, Mr Chor said, heightened his political awareness and consciousness. “We had to exercise self-determination and be able to defend our own country,” Mr Chor wrote in his reflections.
In 1959, Mr Chor was elected at Jurong and was amongst the first batch of 43 PAP Legislative Assemblymen. However, political unrest followed soon when left-wing PAP members walked out to form the Barisan Sosialis.
Mr Chor’s integrity and loyalty was tested then. He had publicly shared that he was asked to defect to the leftist Barisan Sosialis on several occasions. Once, had even turned down a $200,000 bribe to switch over.
During the 25 years of his political career, Mr Chor held the appointments of parliamentary secretary in the Ministries of Health, National Development and Environment. He was also the chairman of the PAP branches at Bukit Timah, Jurong and Bukit Panjang from 1955 to 1964.
Having lived in the Bukit Timah area for most of his life, Mr Chor maintained a close relationship with his constituents. This enabled him to better explain government policies to them.
Mr Chor retired from politics in 1984 and passed away in 2016.