Launch of book by ex-MPs a reunion of old comrades

It was a reunion of sorts for many former People's Action Party (PAP) MPs at the launch of the book, We Also Served - Reflections Of Singapore's Former PAP MPs, at the SPH News Centre auditorium in Toa Payoh yesterday.

Although only 25 wrote autobiographical essays for the book, nearly 40 "Men In White", as PAP members are popularly known today, were among the 120 guests.

They included guest of honour and former Cabinet minister Othman Wok, and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who dropped in at the reception after the book launch to meet the former MPs.

Mr Othman, 89, who is among the contributors to the collection of personal essays by former MPs, said he met many of his old colleagues at the event yesterday.

Pointing to 84-year-old Chor Yeok Eng, a former senior parliamentary secretary and a fellow contributor, he said: "I haven't seen him for years and I am happy to know he is well."

Others like Mr Chai Chong Yii, 79, added: "We rarely meet after we retired from politics and I am happy so many who did not contribute to the book also came."

They included several former PAP ministers, namely Mr Lee Khoon Choy, Dr Seet Ai Mee, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua and former Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi.

In his speech, Dr Chiang Hai Ding, one of the book's two editors, said that there were

more than 100 former PAP MPs from the period between 1965 and 2011.

He urged them to follow the example of the book's 25 contributors to tell their stories and "inform and inspire other Singaporeans".

"Who knows, some Singaporeans who read their stories may follow in their footsteps and, in time, they too can say, 'We also served'," he said.

A panel discussion followed the launch when Dr Chiang, co-editor Rohan Kamis and former MPs Chau Sik Ting, Wan Hussin Zoohri and R. Sinnakaruppan took questions from the floor.

The questions included whether a Chinese-language edition would be published and why it had taken the editors eight years to put the book together.

Mr Kamis said the book changed its publisher from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies to The Straits Times Press midway.

They also had to raise money to get it published.

We Also Served - Reflections Of Singapore's Former PAP MPs is available at major bookstores at $39.90, inclusive of GST.

This article was first published on July 9, 2014.
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