Veteran MP Inderjit Singh dismisses online chatter that he has quit the PAP

In a Facebook post, the MP said that he had asked PM Lee way back in January 2013 if he could step down.
In a Facebook post, the MP said that he had asked PM Lee way back in January 2013 if he could step down.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Veteran MP Inderjit Singh, who announced that he will retire from politics at the next election, said on Tuesday (July 28) that he remains a People's Action Party member and will help Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in campaigning in the next general election.

His remarks in a Facebook post on Tuesday came amid reports in some social media sites online that Mr Singh, 55 - one of six MPs for Ang Mo Kio GRC, which is helmed by Mr Lee - had quit the ruling party.

He dismissed the talk, saying in his post that he had asked PM Lee way back in January 2013 if he could step down as an MP.

"I have contributed almost 20 years as an MP and wanted to spend time on my work and family," he said. "I remain a PAP member and will be assisting the Prime Minister in his election campaign in Ang Mo Kio."

Mr Singh's Friday night announcement about his retirement came hours after the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee released its report on boundary changes.

In its wake, some netizens and online news sites dug up and uploaded speeches that Mr Singh previously made in Parliament and suggested that he was "forced" to quit as he had spoken out against various government policies.

They also cited as further proof, the fact that the boundaries committee recommended that Mr Singh's Kebun Baru ward be carved out of Ang Mo Kio GRC. It will be part of Nee Soon GRC at the next general election.

Reacting to the chatter online, Mr Singh said in his Facebook post on Tuesday: "I read with amusement that some people have taken my old speeches and reposted them with a headline that I have left the PAP. The White Paper speech was made in early 2013 and the one on the response to the President's Address was posted in May 2014."

On Sunday, PAP organising secretary Ng Eng Hen, who is Defence Minister, had said during an interview with reporters that the party wanted to handle the retirement of its MPs smoothly, in a "more deliberate and dignified manner".

He added: "You can post your retirement on Facebook but I think... an MP who has served 15, 20 even 30 years... that's not the best way to do it. For many of them, they'll have to prepare their ground, ensure... continuity and say goodbyes."

Again, some online sites took this as a reference to Mr Singh - the only MP to have announced his retirement on Facebook - and said it was a sign of "infighting" in the PAP.

But Mr Singh said on Tuesday when asked to comment: "If there was infighting, would I be helping PM Lee with his campaign?"

Separately, Mr Ng also told The Straits Times when asked about his comments: "When I read that Inderjit was retiring, two thoughts came into my mind. First, that at 55, he had many more years to contribute, and was big-hearted to retire now, so that younger candidates could stand in his place.

"I have great respect for Inderjit and learnt from his many good speeches in Parliament. He has a heart for the daily struggles of Singaporeans and could put it across in heartfelt and effective ways. When he spoke, Ministers took note, and followed up. He was a people's MP.

"Second, I thought we should do better than just Facebook postings for retiring MPs. After many years of service, the party should try to find a more dignified and deliberate way to announce their retirement. So when we announce new candidates, whenever possible, we will do it together with their retiring MPs, that they are taking over. I hope this approach will do justice to the many years of contribution that MPs like Inderjit have given to serve their residents."

yuenc@sph.com.sg