Seng Han Thong and Inderjit to retire, Yeo Guat Kwang redeployed

Veteran politicians Seng Han Thong and Inderjit Singh are retiring from politics, but in a surprise move, their fellow MP in Ang Mo Kio GRC Yeo Guat Kwang will be redeployed to another constituency.

Where Mr Yeo will stand will be made known at a later date, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

All three entered politics in 1997, and their departure means that half of the group representation constituency's six-man slate for the upcoming general election will be different from the previous line-up.

Mr Lee, who leads the People's Action Party (PAP) team in the GRC, paid tribute to the outgoing MPs and thanked them for their service at a press conference where he unveiled the new PAP slate.

Mr Seng, 65, had paid close attention to needy residents and gone the extra mile to take care of them.

"He persevered and continued to serve even after a resident attacked him and he was severely injured," said Mr Lee, referring to a 2009 incident when a disgruntled resident poured thinner on Mr Seng and set him alight at a community event. The attack left Mr Seng requiring skin grafts.

"But he recovered, he came back and he's continued to do the work he was doing," said Mr Lee.

This work includes developing programmes to keep older residents active in the mature estate of Yio Chu Kang, and community singing events to bring residents from different races together.

"I've attended several of them. Hundreds - sometimes a few thousand people - they are singing together, mostly in tune but always in harmony," said Mr Lee with a laugh.

He added that Mr Seng, a former executive editor of Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, also had a knack for neat turns of phrase.

Responding, Mr Seng quipped in Mandarin that standing for elections is an opportunity, while retiring from politics shows wisdom. The Chinese terms for opportunity and wisdom sound similar.

He added that he has confidence in his successor, colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon, 43.

As for Mr Singh, who announced his exit from politics last month, Mr Lee said: "His attention to detail and concern for residents have made a difference on the ground."

"He's been mentoring the newer MPs in my GRC and I look forward to him helping us in the next election too," he added.

Mr Singh, 55, said he was fully focused on helping Mr Lee campaign for this election in Ang Mo Kio GRC as well as in his Kebun Baru ward, which was absorbed into Nee Soon GRC in the latest boundary review.

But he added with a smile: "You will continue to hear from me."

Mr Lee also said that Mr Yeo, 54, will be fielded in another seat.

He was first elected in the now-defunct Cheng San GRC in 1997, in what Mr Lee called "an important and hard-fought contest". He moved to Aljunied GRC for the 2001 and 2006 general elections, and to Ang Mo Kio GRC in 2011.

"Since then, he's been taking good care of Ang Mo Kio-Hougang," said Mr Lee.

Taking over in his ward is new face Darryl David, 44.

Said Mr Yeo: "Wherever I go, I will continue to do my best to serve our people."

This article was first published on August 16, 2015.
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