Mah Bow Tan is proud of tenure as National Development Minister

SINGAPORE - Former National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan has denied that he had to give up the post after the 2011 General Election because of skyrocketing property prices.

It was time to retire and make way for younger and talented people to take over, he was quoted as saying in a new book.

Mr Mah is one of nine prominent Hainanese Singaporeans interviewed in the book.

There had been talk that he had to take the blame for rising property prices, but he did not think so.

He had no regrets when he retired, he said. He also felt he had given the best part of his life to serving Singapore's people and government.

Mr Mah was happy, grateful and proud about the years he had spent at the National Development Ministry.

Proud

He felt particularly proud of his role in the development of the Marina Bay area.

When he was young, he loved to visit the Clifford Pier area. And he wanted something there that would impress the younger generations of the future.

Asked what was the most unforgettable event during his years in politics, Mr Mah said it was the SilkAir crash in Palembang, Indonesia, in 1997.

It remains a pain in his heart that the cause of the crash has not been fully found.

He was then Minister of Transport and when it happened, he had been on his way to a Meet-the-People session.

Indeed, he could not sleep at all that night.

On one hand, he was dealing with Indonesian authorities involved in the rescue efforts and on the other, he had to console the loved ones of the victims.

Mr Mah also spoke emotionally about his childhood days.

He lost his father at a young age, and his mother took on odd jobs to raise him and his younger sister. From the age of seven, he had to live with his uncle.

He had no money to attend tuition classes.

Instead, he taught other students to help his mother make ends meet and he won a President's Scholarship eventually.

If not for the scholarship, Mr Mah said he would not have been able to complete his studies, even though he had done well.

His childhood dream had been to become a teacher so that he could earn money and help his mother.

If Mr Mah has a regret, he said it is that he could not spend more time with his family during his earlier years in politics.

Now, he is trying to make amends by spending more time with his wife and go on holidays with his family.

As he had been so busy with his work, his wife, a doctor, stopped working, to care for the family.

She later started a charity with some friends and is involved with the Breast Cancer Foundation.


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