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Home Team Merdeka Moment: Growing with SCORE
Meet a SCORE pioneer who’s seen the organisation develop over almost four decades.

Ms Lee Geok Buay is systematic, meticulous and a whiz when it comes to working with numbers – no surprise since she has been with the Finance Department of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) for 39 years.

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Ms Lee has been with SCORE since 1980, when the organisation was only in its fourth year of operations. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

Proper Jobs Were Difficult to Find
Born in 1959, Ms Lee is among those in the Merdeka Generation who grew up in the tumultuous 1950s and early 1960s – an era when many left school early to work in order to support their families.

Ms Lee was the eldest of five siblings and the first to start working. “During our era, proper jobs were difficult to find – the economy wasn’t as good as it is now,” she said. “I saw my dad working very hard so I felt that I had to start working early.”

Ms Lee found a job right after she completed her GCE “A” Levels. She worked as a relief teacher for a few months, then took on a temporary position conducting interviews as part of a labour force survey before becoming a proof-reader for an advertising company.

Then came a full-time job opening at SCORE, which had been established in 1976. 

“When I first joined, I found the office very interesting because the front part of it was a rattan furniture showroom,” she said, recalling her first days at the former SCORE Headquarters in Kallang. “Our core business unit back then was furniture production, with the items made by inmates.”

Starting from the Ground Up
Ms Lee joined SCORE just as it was starting to take shape. The organisation has undergone many changes over the decades, and Ms Lee is one of the few SCORE pioneers to have witnessed its expansion and growth.

For one thing, SCORE’s business enterprises have developed significantly, offering a range of work programmes to inmates and ex-offenders. Today, SCORE’s business enterprises include a bakery and catering service as well as services such as food manufacturing and electronics assembly. 

Technological changes have also transformed the workplace. “I still remember typing out a fixed asset list on the manual typewriter during my first week of work,” said Ms Lee. “It took an entire week! Now, it’s much easier to gather the information we need because everything is automated.”

Almost Four Decades with SCORE
One reason why Ms Lee has stayed with SCORE for almost four decades is the close bond and longstanding friendships that she shares with her colleagues. 

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The 35-year challenge: On the left is a photo of Ms Lee (at right) and her colleague at a SCORE dinner event in 1984; on the right are the two of them today, at SCORE’s Headquarters in Changi. PHOTOS: Lee Geok Buay, Muhamad Khair

Next year, Ms Lee will celebrate four decades with SCORE, but she isn’t planning to retire just yet. She hopes to continue helping others in the same way that SCORE supports ex-offenders by giving them a second chance.

“If I do retire, I’ll move on to charity work,” she says. “Volunteering gives you a different kind of satisfaction.”

Reflecting on her career with SCORE, Ms Lee had this to share: “I think I made the right decision to start working early. I found a job that was meaningful, enjoyed my work and was given many opportunities to grow and learn.”

  1. by Muhamad Khair
  2. 17 May 2019
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