Yam Ah Mee is General Election's overnight star

By Jecolia Tong

AN UNLIKELY star was born in the early hours yesterday, as Singaporeans gathered to watch the live television coverage of the General Election.

No, it was not prominent elected opposition member Low Thia Khiang, his party's Sylvia Lim or newcomer Chen Show Mao. It was Mr Yam Ah Mee, 53, the election's Returning Officer (RO).

The chief executive director of the People's Association was appointed to the post by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before the election.

And he caused an overnight sensation as he announced - with a straight face and in steady rhythm - the electorate winners 26 times with his prepared lines: "Pursuant to Section 49, Sub-section 7e, Paragraph A of the Parliamentary Elections Act, I declare..."

A YouTube search of the man returned at least eight videos paying humorous homage to his deadpan announcements.

One video set his announcements to Auto-Tune, while another mixed them with club music. "This is just for fun, of course. Full respect to the guy!" wrote YouTube user FallenSuperheroSG, creator of the Yam Ah Mee Club Mix video.

Singaporean bloggers, such as Mr Brown, have even dubbed him Yam "RObocop" Ah Mee.

On Facebook, the fan page titled "Yam Ah Mee, Returning Officer Extraordinaire" has more than 30,000 "likes" in less than 24 hours - testament to his surging popularity.

Fans have even suggested that he run for president, or become the "news anchor every evening, for good calming effect". A my paper reader, Mr Eugene Yeo, 29, wrote in yesterday to sing praises of Mr Yam.

He wrote: "I love this man - nobody can beat his calm demeanour in delivering results inside a room full of bright lights and packed with a phalanx of reporters. A mere mortal would quake and stammer at doing what he did yesterday morning."

He added that hearing Mr Yam's voice reminded him that "behind the scenes of every election, there is a team of civil servants who go around quietly in their duties, from manning polling stations to counting votes, one of whom has become Singapore's most-loved figure - the Returning Officer".

Indeed, judging from the groundswell of popularity, many Singaporeans will be looking forward to seeing Mr Yam again at the next general election, dressed impeccably, and reading out the results calmly.

jtong@sph.com.sg


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