After Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng (the man responsible for the flight of terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari), National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, 61, is easily the least popular in the land. Even Lee Kuan Yew went on record to say that if Mah fails to explain the HDB policies, he deserves to lose his seat in the coming General Election. But will he?
To boost his credibilty, the Straits Times on 7 April published his accomplishments in part as follows:
"Mr Mah graduated with first-class honours in Industrial Engineering from the University of New South Wales in 1971. He received a Master of Engineering in operations research from the same university in 1973.
He joined the public sector as an administrative officer in 1973, and rose to become general manager of the then Singapore Bus Service by 1983. He was then seconded to Singapore News and Publications as CEO of the Singapore Monitor newspaper. In 1988, he was elected as an MP for Tampines GRC, and was appointed Minister of State for Trade for Communications and Information.
In 1999, he was was promoted to Minister for Communications."
What the paper conveniently missed out was that Mah was defeated in a straight fight with Singapore Democratic Party opposition leader Chiam See Tong at the 1984 general elections in the constituency of Potong Pasir. Mah was then parked at Singapore News and Publications to twiddle his thumbs for 4 years (he was no journalist) to await the next general election in 1988, whereby he sneaked into parliament under the protective gerrymandering umbrella of the GRC. He had stood on his own two feet in 1984, and was roundly rejected by the electorate. Like all scholars in the civil service, he was not allowed to be seen to fail. Even before he graduated from his studies, his career path of success was long planned by the Public Service Commission, which is under the purview of another cabinet minister. They tend to look after their own kind. Too bad for the people of Singapore.