Newly retired People’s Action Party (PAP) politician Charles Chong called his former colleagues Inderjit Singh and Tan Cheng Bock “one of a kind” as he revealed plans to take a quieter route post-retirement, in a recent interview.
Mr Inderjit Singh is a former ruling party parliamentarian who served at Ang Mo Kio GRC for nearly two decades, between 1996 and 2015. He retired from active politics prior to the 2015 General Election (GE) but served as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s election agent, that year.
Mr Inderjit stood out among his colleagues when he was in Parliament. In 2013, he excused himself from the chamber when Parliament voted for the unpopular 6.9 million population white paper. He would have had to vote “yes” together with the other PAP MPs if he was in the chamber, as the party whip wasn’t removed.
Shortly thereafter, the veteran politician publicly advocated that the party whip should be removed when Parliament votes on major policies. He was still a PAP MP when he made this call.
Since his retirement from politics, many Singaporeans have praised Mr Inderjit for his outspoken and critical views on a number of issues and his bravery for speaking out against the authorities when he feels conflicted about an issue.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock has also made a name for himself as someone who has strong convictions. The ex-PAP MP, who served at Ayer Rajah SMC for 26 years between 1980 to 2006, even voted against his own party despite the Whip not having been lifted during a parliamentary debate on the NMP scheme and received a warning for his action.
Over a decade after he retired as a PAP MP, Dr Tan founded his own opposition party. His Progress Singapore Party (PSP) failed to clinch any seats in the most recent 2020 GE but its narrow loss at West Coast GRC entitled the party to nominate two candidates to the House as Non-Constituency Members of Parliament.
While Dr Tan and Mr Inderjit remain prominent in the socio-political sphere after they stepped down from the ruling party, newly retired PAP politician Charles Chong plans to take a different approach.
One of the PAP’s longest serving MPs, Mr Chong stepped down from electoral politics ahead of the 2020 GE after serving in Parliament since 1988. When asked about his retirement plans, he told the Straits Times: “I don’t think I’d like to be like Inderjit or Cheng Bock. They are both one of a kind.”
Referring to opposition legend Low Thia Khiang, who also retired from electoral politics this year, Mr Chong said: “Low Thia Khiang said he hopes he would not have to make a comeback. I hope I would not have to write a book.” He added: “Some of the people that I might write about are still around and may not like what I say about them!”
Instead, Mr Chong said he looks forward to being “an ordinary senior citizen” and plans to take a break. He, however, indicated that he will look at other areas where he can make contribute after his break.