Singapore GE2020: Lee Bee Wah, Chia Shi-Lu and Sam Tan among MPs making way for 27 new faces

(From left) Incumbent Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, Tanjong Pagar GRC's Dr Chia Shi-Lu and Radin Mas SMC's Mr Sam Tan.
(From left) Incumbent Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, Tanjong Pagar GRC's Dr Chia Shi-Lu and Radin Mas SMC's Mr Sam Tan.PHOTOS: ST FILE, LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE

Incumbent Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah has lit up many a parliamentary sitting with her colourful speeches and relentless advocacy for residents, earning the affectionate nickname of "Hua Jie" or "Sister Flower" among her constituents.

Such speeches will be missed when Parliament sits again. Yesterday, the three-term MP announced her retirement from politics, saying it is part of the renewal process of the People's Action Party (PAP).

New face Carrie Tan, 38, founder of charity Daughters Of Tomorrow, will be taking over from Ms Lee, 59, in her Nee Soon South ward. "I am glad that a much younger candidate has been fielded," Ms Lee wrote on Facebook.

She is among the incumbent MPs retiring to make way for 27 new PAP faces who will be fielded at the polls on July 10.

Yesterday, Tanjong Pagar GRC's Dr Chia Shi-Lu and Radin Mas SMC's Mr Sam Tan also said that they will be stepping down as MPs.

At a virtual press conference where the new PAP line-up for Tanjong Pagar GRC was unveiled, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing paid tribute to Dr Chia, 48, an orthopaedic surgeon, who has served as MP for two terms.

He said Dr Chia's Queenstown ward is not an easy place to take care of, as it has more residents than some other wards in the group representation constituency.

On top of serving as MP, Dr Chia tends to elderly residents' complaints of aches and pains, and has become a "resident orthopaedic doctor" in the area, Mr Chan quipped.

PAP new face Eric Chua Swee Leong, 41, a former civil servant, will take over from Dr Chia.

Mr Chan, the PAP's second assistant secretary-general, also thanked Mr Tan, who is Minister of State for Social and Family Development. Incumbent Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Melvin Yong, 48, will be fielded as a candidate in Mr Tan's Radin Mas single seat.

Mr Chan said Mr Tan, 61, will continue to help to guide Mr Yong and other MPs. "I owe a debt of gratitude to Sam, who mentored me and guided me with a lot of useful tips when I first became an MP 10 years ago," said Mr Chan, 50.

 
 

A new PAP slate was also announced in neighbouring Jalan Besar GRC yesterday. Former communications and information minister Yaacob Ibrahim, 64, and general practitioner Lily Neo, 66 will retire. Polytechnic lecturer Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah, 41, and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, 51, will take over from them.

Mrs Teo, who was part of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, yesterday thanked Dr Yaacob and Dr Neo, who have been MPs since 1997. Dr Yaacob, she said, has served with great distinction and oversaw Malay-Muslim affairs, a "very important" area. Dr Neo, meanwhile, has spoken up vigorously in Parliament in support of the vulnerable and the elderly.

"And as an MP, my grassroots leaders know I always say that she is my role model," said Mrs Teo.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, 79; Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, 67; Deputy Speaker of Parliament Charles Chong, 67; and incumbent Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Ong Teng Koon, 43, had also announced last week that they will not be contesting the election.

Other incumbent MPs who are expected to retire include East Coast GRC's Mr Lee Yi Shyan, 58; Pioneer SMC's Mr Cedric Foo, 59; and Bukit Panjang SMC's Dr Teo Ho Pin, 60.

Among those expected to retire this year, Mr Ong, a two-term MP, is the youngest. But former PAP MP Inderjit Singh said age is not the sole determining factor for retiring MPs, pointing to Mr Chong, who has served as MP for seven terms since 1988 and is now in his late 60s, as an example.

"It is a combination of the willingness of the MP to continue, the level of contribution and level of support that determines who stays and who leaves," said Mr Singh.

Additional reporting by Irshath Mohamed, Danson Cheong and Olivia Ho

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2020, with the headline 'Lee Bee Wah, Chia Shi-Lu and Sam Tan among MPs making way for 27 new faces'. Subscribe