At a press conference held in a Toa Payoh coffeeshop where three new People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates for Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency (GRC) were unveiled, long serving PAP member of parliament (MP) Mr Wong Kan Seng announced his retirement and thanked the residents who have supported him.
“Seven terms, 31 years, is a very long time. I think the only one left from my term is Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and before us Mr Goh Chok Tong.
“I’ve walked through this long journey, more than three-quarters of my working life,” he said. “Don’t you think I deserve a rest?”
His likely replacement in Toa Payoh ward, Chief Executive Officer of OUE Hospitality Trust Chong Kee Hiong was introduced by Mr Wong. He described Mr Chong as one who “works very hard” and has “strong, sound values”.
“Having come from a humble background, Mr Chong has moved up due to our meritocratic system. He comes with a good heart,” he said.
“As part of the PAP policy of self-renewal and bringing in new blood, I think we should do our part. I’m doing my part to find (the right) people, to carry on the work that the PAP started in 1959. It’s a long and arduous journey. We have many more years to go. We need to find people who will continue to stay committed, dedicated, and who will serve the people of Singapore.
Besides Mr Wong, the other two Bishan-Toa Payoh MPs stepping down are Hri Kumar and Zainudin Nordin.
Said Mr Zainudin, 52: “I’ve been with Bishan-Toa Payoh since 2001. It’s been a wonderful and enriching experience serving the residents. That brings me the most satisfaction and joy. But we know that as a party we must continue to be relevant to the people. I requested not to stand at the next GE because the time is right for me to focus on my family. It’s been a long time.”
Mr Hri Kumar, 49, said he grew up in Toa Payoh, having lived in the estate at the age of 10. “I’m delighted to serve in Thomson-Toa Payoh in particular. During my house visits I still run into many schoolmates and close friends,” he said.
“Politics is all about grassroots. It’s really all about what happens on the ground, and how to help make people’s lives better. What people are most interested in is about having a better home, a better life for themselves, and leaving behind something for their children.”
He added: “I have had to refocus my priorities because my wife is ill. She’s doing well, but she’s compelled me to rethink how I spend my time.
“You never quite retire from politics. We are all citizens and so we all have stakes in how the country is run, by the most capable team possible. Honesty and integrity are all we ask of our politicians.”