Veteran PAP MPs stepping down

MPs of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC bowed in appreciation to Mr Wong Kan Seng (fourth from left, seated) for his years of service.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Former deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng, lawyer Hri Kumar Nair and S'pore football chief Zainudin Nordin will be stepping down at the next general election.

This was revealed today (Aug 12) at a People's Action Party (PAP) press conference to introduce new candidates for the Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

Mr Wong, 68, said that his stepping down was part of the PAP's policy of "self-renewal and bring in new blood". Today Online reported him saying: "Don't you think I deserve a rest?"

As a mark of respect, the other Members of Parliament of Bishan-Toa Payoh - Deputy Prime Minister Ng Eng Hen, Mr Nair, Mr Zainudin and Miss Josephine Teo - and the three new candidates stood and bowed to Mr Wong, who has served for 31 years since joining politics in 1984.

Mr Nair, 49, has said that he is "refocusing" his priorities because his wife is ill. Although his wife is "doing well", Mr Nair said that his wife's illness spurred him to "rethink how I spend my time".

The Straits Times said that Mr Nair told reporters later that his wife was diagnosed with lymphoma, a kind of cancer of the immune system, in 2012.

However, Mr Nair added that no one really retires from politics, as, being citizens, we all have "a stake in this country and how it's run".

Spending more time with his family is why Mr Zainudin, 52, is stepping down.

Channel NewsAsia reported him as saying: "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."

With the departure of Mr Wong, Mr Nair and Mr Zainudin at the next GE, the PAP team contesting in Bishan-Toa Payoh in the next GE will be made up of Dr Ng, Miss Teo, and the three new candidates introduced today - Mr Chong Kee Hiong (49), Mr Chee Hong Tat (41) and Mr Saktiandi Supaat (42).