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GE2020: Charles Chong among 20-odd PAP MPs retiring this year, says PM Lee

​SINGAPORE — About 20 of its Members of Parliament (MPs) will be retiring this year, the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong said at the launch of the party’s manifesto on Saturday (June 27).

PM Lee speaking at the launch of the PAP manifesto titled, Our Lives, Our Jobs, Our Future.

PM Lee speaking at the launch of the PAP manifesto titled, Our Lives, Our Jobs, Our Future.

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​SINGAPORE — About 20 of its Members of Parliament (MPs) will be retiring this year, the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday (June 27). 

One of them is Deputy Speaker of Parliament Charles Chong, who was MP for Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC) before Parliament was dissolved. 

Mr Lee noted that of all the PAP MPs, Mr Chong has experienced the narrowest winning margins in elections — he won with 51 per cent of the votes  in Joo Chiat in 2011 and Punggol East with 52 per cent in 2015. 

“Always by the skin of his teeth not because he is a weak MP, but because when there’s a tough fight and we need a strong candidate who will fight hard and fight smart, we send in Charles Chong. And every time, Charles delivered,” Mr Lee, who is also the prime minister, said.

He was speaking at the launch of the party’s manifesto for the July 10 General Election (GE), which has a central focus on overcoming the crisis of a generation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In his speech, Mr Lee also touched on the retirement of Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan that were announced earlier, saying that this marks a “major transition point” for Singapore politics.

“Boon Wan has been in all my Cabinets from Day One. We have fought and won many battles together. The warmth and mutual regard we have for each other has grown over many years as we worked together, dealing with the spikiest of problems,” he said. 

Mr Lee added that their “exceptional comradeship” is what one could have the privilege to experience when they commit to the public service. 

On Mr Goh, Mr Lee said: “He has touched the lives of so many Singaporeans, and given his all in service of our country and people.

“Personally, I owe ESM a huge debt of gratitude because he was the one who brought me into politics and has guided and mentored me all these years, even after I succeeded him as prime minister,” he added.

While he did not elaborate on the other MPs who are retiring, Mr Lee said that they have served Singapore and the party loyally.

“I have no doubt that if they were to contest the coming GE, they would put up a strong showing, but they have agreed to step down, because they understand the need for self-renewal, and have put the party and nation before self,” he added.

Fifteen PAP MPs retired in the 2015 GE, including five former office-holders — Mr Mah Bow Tan, Mr Raymond Lim, Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Mr Wong Kan Seng and Mr Hawazi Daipi.

This week, PAP unveiled 27 new candidates, which Mr Lee noted on Saturday was more than in any previous election. They represent more than a quarter of the total slate of 93 candidates.

The candidates this year come from all walks of life and they are representative of the complexity of Singapore society, he said.

“If elected, they will become your representatives in Parliament because they are like you, they understand you and your concerns.” 

The new candidates are a mix of entrepreneurs, businessmen, lawyers, social workers, public servants and officers in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), he noted.

“We have more women, too — double the last round — including our first female SAF general," he said.

“Individually, each of the new candidates brings something different to the team. They are each proven in their respective fields and professions.”  

Several of the candidates have also taken harder roads to success, he noted, adding that two of the candidates grew up in rental flats, another two had to go through the Normal (Academic) stream before going on to polytechnic. One later earned a doctorate. 

“I am proud of our candidates individually. But what I am most proud of is that collectively, the new candidates represent a wide range of life experiences and backgrounds.”

Mr Lee said that while the new candidates will soon face the cut and thrust of electoral politics, the candidates with the most challenging task are the ones standing in the opposition wards, such as in the Hougang SMC and Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC). 

He added that in the GE2015, Mr Lee Hong Chuang raised PAP’s vote share in Hougang to 42 per cent, while in Aljunied, Mr Victor Lye’s GRC team did “well enough to demand a recount” of the vote. 

“Ever since then, the PAP teams have been hard at work on the ground in Hougang and Aljunied. Now they are ready to contest again, this time wiser, more experienced, and having formed deeper bonds with the residents,” PM Lee said. 

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PAP SGVotes2020 Singapore General Election Lee Hsien Loong manifesto

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