Singapore—With the announcement from President Halimah Yacob concerning the dissolution of Parliament as well as the confirmation that the General Election is scheduled for early July, Singapore is now bracing for many changes.
One of the changes is the exit from politics of former communications and information minister Yaacob Ibrahim, who has served as a Member of Parliament for over two decades.
Dr Yaacob published a Facebook post after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed the nation on June 23, which sounded as though he is saying goodbye, and he expressed his thanks to all those who have accompanied him on his journey.
As of today I am no more a Member of Parliament (MP) with the Singapore parliament as it has been dissolved paving the…
He wrote, “As of today I am no more a Member of Parliament (MP) with the Singapore parliament as it has been dissolved paving the way for the next general election.”
Dr Yaacob, who had represented the Jalan Besar GRC and Moulmein-Kallang GRC, had also served as the first Mayor of Central District of Singapore in 2001.
He wrote to especially thank his constituents at Kolam Ayer.
”I came into parliament on 2 Jan 1997. It’s been 23 years 5 months and 21 days. For all that time I have been blessed to meet so many wonderful people in my constituency of Kolam Ayer and some whom I met as children have grown into proud parents.”
Over the years, he has come to be considered as a friend to many, and added that his race has “never mattered to them.”
“While others have left us leaving behind their legacies in the constituency. I have grown with them becoming one of them as their friend. I thank them all for opening their doors and hearts to me allowing me to enter a world full of warmth, camaraderie and spirit. During all those years my race never mattered to them. It has enriched me and strengthened my faith in my fellow Singaporeans.”
He went on to thank his grassroots leaders, PA staff, colleagues in the various ministries where he served, as well as “all of my fellow parliamentarians and my GRC colleagues.”
Dr Yaacob expressed that he is looking forward to the “next chapter” of his life.
The question now stands as to who will take his place and anchor the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) team at Jalan Besar. As PAP historically sets an anchor minister in every GRC, some say that Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah may step in to fill Mr Yaacob’s shoes, according to a report from Channel NewsAsia CNA.
After all, Ms Teo is with fellow minister Minister Ng Eng Hen in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, and Ms Indranee is with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing in Tanjong Pagar GRC.
To further shake things up at Jalan Besar, speculation also abounds that MP Lily Neo may step down as well, after having served five terms as an MP.
When he was asked whether the Manpower Minister might take his place, Dr Yaacob told CNA, “These are matters for the Prime Minister and the leadership to decide. I will just continue with my usual mode. So on nomination day at 12 pm, you can ask me and I can answer that question.”
Others say Ms Indranee might be a better fit for Jalan Besar, as PAP may want to keep the team’s demographic profile, and Dr Yaacob is the minority representative there. CNA quotes Associate Professor Bilveer Singh, a political science professor at the National University of Singapore, as saying of Ms Indranee, “She’s president of SINDA (Singapore Indian Development Association), very powerful, and one of the most effective ministers Singapore has.” —/TISG