SINGAPORE - After 30 years of public service, outgoing Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan has chosen to return to the backbench following a minor stroke in May that prompted him to "change gear".
"Many of my friends have asked about my health and it is true that I was hospitalised for a mini-stroke in May this year," said Mr Lee, 53, on his last day as Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development.
"My friends advised me to look at life differently, to perhaps change gear a little bit, but still remain productive and useful, take on something that would best suit this stage of my life.
"I thought that was good advice,'' he told reporters at the opening of the Manufacturing Solutions Expo.
"By the end of this five-year term, I would have spent 35 years in public service, right out from university. Of course, a good part of it was in the civil service (and) close to 10 years of political service, so I feel quite proud to have given the best part of my working life to serving the nation," he added.
"So as part of the transition, I asked to step back and serve in a different way."
Mr Lee said the move also gives him more time to attend to the needs of residents in his Kampong Chai Chee ward in East Coast GRC.
But he will not be a full-time Member of Parliament. "I also hope to find something to do in the day time," he said.
Wednesday was a busy last day as Senior Minister of State for Mr Lee, who was scheduled to shuttle between a handful of trade events as a guest of honour. But he was all smiles as he performed his duties for the last time.
He also urged Singaporeans to give their fullest support to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his new Cabinet.
"As we all understand and PM has said, this is really a very important milestone in Singapore history, in enabling the new generation of leaders to take over," he said.
As well, he called on Singaporeans to be active in nation-building: "Singapore is special. Indeed, it is unique. And we have come this far. I think it is our individual duty to contribute wherever we can to make sure that Singapore will remain relevant and successful, to ensure that we have a great future for our children.
"So I think all of us will have to play an active role in some stage of our life, and then when the new generation is ready, it's also our responsibility to groom them."