Mr Yam Ah Mee was yesterday hailed as one of the People's Association chiefs who made the greatest impact, even as it emerged that he nearly did not make the cut for the job.
Speaking at the farewell party for the 55-year-old, former PA deputy chairman Lim Boon Heng said: "I wasn't sure whether he would fit into an organisation that deals with the broad masses (and) the grassroots.
"I told the Prime Minister that I have to try him out."
So Mr Yam was first made to chair a community club management committee in Jurong for about one year, and he raised over $300,000 for the club's renovations.
He won over the grassroots leaders, Mr Lim said, and later became PA chief in May 2010.