Professor Ho calls it a day after 20 years

SENIOR Minister S. Jayakumar described him as a "very steady and reliable colleague" whom he could turn to for assistance in tackling difficult issues at the ministries of Law and Home Affairs.

He was paying tribute to Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee, 56, who announced yesterday that he would retire from politics at the next polls.

In a statement to the media, Professor Jayakumar, 71, said that he was "very fortunate" to have had Associate Professor Ho with him in both ministries.

He said that Prof Ho worked with him in the Ministry of Law for 15 years, rising through the ranks from Parliamentary Secretary to become Senior Minister of State.

Prof Jayakumar added: "I knew him even before he entered politics - he was one of my students at NUS Law School."

Prof Ho, who has been the Government's top gun in its fight against loan sharks and drug abuse, is retiring after completing four terms in office spanning two decades.

In a separate statement to the media, the minister, who has been a Member of Parliament for Nee Soon East Single Member Constituency since 2001, said that he had informed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last year that he wanted to step down.

He said that his time spent on the ground in his ward, as well as the many offices he has held, has been "very fulfilling and satisfying".

He recounted that he had made many friends in the constituency, and has enduring memories of many evenings spent laughing and shaking hands with residents at block parties and roadshows, even joining them on brisk walks.

In sports, he was the deputy chairman of the Committee on Sporting Singapore, where he helped to lay the foundation for the current surge in sports here.

He was also the chairman of the Sembawang-Hong Kah Community Development Council (CDC).

Of the CDC, he said: "I introduced initiatives, such as briskwalking and reaching out to families of prisoners, which, today, have expanded considerably at a national level."

On his retirement plans, Prof Ho said that he will become more active at Mount Carmel Bible- Presbyterian Church in West Coast Road, where he is an elder.

The former vice-dean of the NUS Faculty of Law also said he hopes to return to teach part-time.

He said that he will help his successor "decisively" win the ward - which will become part of Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency - in the upcoming General Election, as well as to settle down in his leadership duties subsequently.

He said: "Wherever possible, I will continue to support important causes like promoting sports, nurturing voluntarism and helping youth to realise their potential, all of which I have espoused consistently all these 20 years in public service."

For more my paper stories click here.