Life after politics: 5 backbenchers on highs and lows of their time as MPs

(Clockwise, from top left) Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar, Ms Lee Bee Wah, Mr Teo Ser Luck, Mr Lee Yi Shyan and Dr Chia Shi-Lu. PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN, ST FILE, ARIFFIN JAMAR, LIANHE ZAO BAO, NG SOR LUAN

Twenty-three MPs - 20 from the PAP, three from the WP - with between one and 10 terms in Parliament stepped down ahead of GE2020. The Straits Times speaks to five of them.

Intan Azura Mokhtar: Academic glad efforts to phase out streaming paid off

Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar feels her nine years in politics have made her wiser, more empathetic and more grounded. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

As a former teacher who had taught Normal (Technical) stream students, Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar was pained to see how such academic labels dealt a blow to her students' self-belief.

"With sufficient motivation and opportunities to prove themselves, they did well and could realise their true potential. I did not like how academic streaming tends to pigeonhole the abilities and potential of students," said Dr Intan, 44, who was an Ang Mo Kio GRC MP for two terms.

Since entering politics in 2011, Dr Intan, who was on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, has relentlessly spoken about the need to do away with academic streaming, both in Parliament and in private meetings with office-holders from the Ministry of Education (MOE).


Lee Bee Wah: Feisty MP who spoke up for residents, defended policies

Former MP Lee Bee Wah (right) tearing up while greeting residents at Block 848 Yishun Ring Road on July 5. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

When Ms Lee Bee Wah went on her usual walkabout at a market in Yishun on July 5, she was greeted by residents who pleaded with her not to retire and to stay on as their MP.

Ms Lee, 59, who represented the Nee Soon South ward for 14 years, teared up as she thanked the residents, saying she would "never forget them".

"The last 14 years have been very memorable. I made a lot of friends. They became my family members," she said.


Teo Ser Luck's proudest moments: Residents benefiting from his programmes

Mr Teo Ser Luck says the jobs he has helped residents find and the spaces he has transformed in his ward of Sengkang Central were among the most fulfilling parts of his political career. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Since stepping down from public office in 2017, Mr Teo Ser Luck, 52, has been living his childhood dream of building his own businesses, with a string of ventures in sectors as varied as education and fintech.

The former Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP, who retired from politics at the general election, said 14 years of public service have infused his entrepreneurial streak with the conviction that for-profit companies must also do social good.

Grassroots work and his time at agencies such as the Ministry of Manpower showed him that even in developed Singapore, there were many who could use a leg-up.


Lee Yi Shyan: Simple joy in everyday interactions with community

Mr Lee Yi Shyan is proud of how the Heartbeat @ Bedok complex in his ward has helped bring the community together. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Looking back on his 14 years as an MP, Mr Lee Yi Shyan marvels at how he survived the most hectic days.

Coffee, Red Bull and chicken essence played a role, he recalls. Even then, there were days when he felt like nodding off at the wheel.

Dinner was often two red bean buns and a packet of milk, purchased at a petrol kiosk and eaten on the go. "It was quite demanding in terms of mental energy and physical fitness," said the 58-year-old.


Chia Shi-Lu: 'Instant MP' worked doubly hard to win over residents

Dr Chia Shi-Lu went from being on the reserve list to becoming an MP after he was fielded in Tanjong Pagar GRC, which saw a walkover. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

When he was elected in 2011, some naysayers branded Dr Chia Shi-Lu an "instant MP". The orthopaedic surgeon was a last-minute People's Action Party (PAP) candidate for the general election, after Mr Steve Tan abruptly withdrew his candidacy on Nomination Day.

Then Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Baey Yam Keng was moved to Tampines GRC to replace Mr Tan, and Dr Chia took Mr Baey's place.

Overnight, Dr Chia went from being on the reserve list to becoming an MP, after the PAP saw a walkover in Tanjong Pagar GRC.


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