George Yeo not standing for elections in 5 years

By Karen W Lim

SINGAPORE's outgoing Foreign Minister George Yeo has revealed that he would not stand for elections in Aljunied in five years' time.

At the first media conference since his electoral loss, Mr Yeo said that it would be better for a younger person to take on the task of winning back Aljunied GRC as he is already 57 years old.

Mr Yeo said that it is only natural for him to feel disappointed but acknowledged that this is politics and that he respected the voters' decision.

He agreed with Workers' Party (WP) chief Mr Low Thia Khiang who said that the WP had won Aljunied because the voters wanted them to be their voice in Parliament.

He also clarified that he believed that the People's Action Party (PAP) needed to transform itself even before the election campaign began.

Mr Yeo reiterated that the "PAP should take a hard look at itself" and that some soul searching is required to understand "why there was this resentment against the government". He said that he would help to bring about this transformation of the PAP in any way possible.

"Many party members feel that way and in the coming months, there will be discussions and debates for the way forward.

"We must never stop adjusting to the forces of change. Either we change or we'll be changed. I think the party and the Cabinet have always kept true to that position," explained Mr Yeo.

He told the media that he had told Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over coffee after a walkabout at Kaki Bukit that there is deep resentment that must be addressed.

According to Mr Yeo, PM Lee listened very hard and later told him that it was because of that conversation that he took his position and apologised to Singaporeans at the Boat Quay rally.

He acknowledged that many young people felt alienated from the Singapore they love and he looks forward to continue working with them so that they can feel that "Singapore is their own".

During the press conference, Mr Yeo also took the opportunity to thank his supporters, friends and relatives who, according to him, wrote long passages, some in tears.

"I'm grateful for the kind words and the good wishes, and will be an advocate of their cause," said Mr Yeo.

What will he do after he steps down?

Mr Yeo told the media that he is not rushing to decide and that he and his wife thought that they should take time to think it over. He also said they need a break to spend more time with the family.

"I had a very good run in every Ministry I went to. It's been fun. I was lucky to be in the right places at the right time and being able to do so many things. Couldn't have asked for a better run," said Mr Yeo.

It is unclear whether he will remain in the public sector or make a move to the private sector.

When asked if he will be retiring from politics, Mr Yeo said: "Politics is the responsibility of every citizen to be involved, so I don't think I'll ever retire from politics."

Greatest regret?

One of the most popular questions being asked during the election is "what is your greatest regret".

Mr Yeo's reply was philosophical: "Many people have asked me that question. To be very frank, that's not the way my mind is constructed. It's not the way I think.

"I'm a bit of a Taoist, so I tend to detach myself and see myself in a larger role. Things happen for a reason and we are part of bigger flows in life."

George Yeo for President?

The question that has been on many netizens' minds is whether Mr Yeo will run for president. In response to this, he laughed and said: "I'm flattered by all these proposals but I'm a free spirit. I don't think my temperament is suited for such a job."

Attached below is a live transcript of what happened during the media conference.