Mah Bow Tan leaves politics after 27 years as MP

Mah Bow Tan leaves politics after 27 years as MP
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The political career of one of Singapore's longest-serving ministers, Mr Mah Bow Tan, has drawn to a close, after he passed the baton yesterday to his successors in Tampines GRC.

"My work here in Tampines GRC is done after 27 years as an MP," said Mr Mah, 66, at a press conference to introduce the candidates for the constituency.

Mr Mah was National Development Minister from 1999 to 2011.

Public housing prices and shortages were hot button issues in the run-up to the 2011 General Election. Mr Mah was re-elected to the GRC that year but stepped down from the Cabinet.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who entered politics in 2011, will lead the GRC into the next election as Tampines' anchor minister.

"It's a heavy responsibility. But I have a very good team, and we have the whole (People's Action Party) supporting us," he said in Mandarin. "I have great confidence that we can serve residents very well."

Mr Heng was part of the PAP team which won Tampines GRC with 57.22 per cent of the vote in GE 2011, a drop of more than 10 percentage points from its 2006 showing. It was up against the National Solidarity Party, which has said it will again send a team to Tampines GRC at the coming polls.

Mr Heng dismissed suggestions that he was reaping "political dividends" from the Our Singapore Conversation national feedback exercise he helmed in 2013, saying it "helped deepen our appreciation of the issues of concern to people, understand the challenges ahead and our hopes for the future".

As for Mr Mah, his political career has been eventful, beginning in 1984 when he ran against opposition politician Chiam See Tong in Potong Pasir, and lost.

In the subsequent 1988 election, Mr Mah was elected to Tampines GRC where he served six terms.

He also held the post of Minister for Communications from 1991 to 1999, where he oversaw the implementation of the Certificate of Entitlement and Electronic Road Pricing schemes. He was concurrently Minister for the Environment from 1993 to 1995.

The PAP is fielding new face Cheng Li Hui, 39, in Mr Mah's ward of Tampines East.

Also exiting Tampines GRC - and politics - this round is Ms Irene Ng, 51, who has said she is proud of the causes she championed as a three-term backbencher.

These include more help for seniors and low-income workers, as well as better cycling spaces.

charyong@sph.com.sg

See also: More stories on the upcoming General Election


This article was first published on August 23, 2015.
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