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In 1988, long-time community leader Peh Chin Hua was fielded by Singapore's ruling People's Action Party (PAP) as a candidate for the General Election. Led by then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who was also secretary-general of the party, Peh was among the first batch of four candidates to be introduced on August 17.

During the introduction session, Trade and Industry Minister Lee Hsien Loong - who would assume premiership in 2004 - outlined the rigorous selection process which PAP candidates had to go through. Said Mr Lee: ¡°We take a lot of trouble over this because we believe that getting good people into politics is a very important way to make sure that Singapore gets more good years.¡±

Potential candidates had to clear several rounds of screening and peer reviews. Said Mr Lee: ¡°Its a very thorough business. You don't have to do it for any other job. It's more thorough than any job interview because entering politics is not just looking for a job. When you enter politics, you are taking on a very heavy responsibility for the future of Singapore. The pressures are so heavy that it is a job which not everybody is suited for by inclination, by temperament.¡±

Peh contested the Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency (GRC) in the 1988 election with party comrades Lee Boon Yang and Sidek Saniff. They beat a Workers' Party team by taking 62.7 per cent of the valid votes. Peh held the seat for two more elections, representing the people of Jalan Besar for 13 years in the Parliament.

He was known as a conservative voice in the unicameral chamber of the Singapore legislature, often speaking on issues of concern to the Chinese community. They include: the importance of traditional Chinese values, the economic value of learning the Chinese language and the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine.

As Singapore's national English-language daily The Straits Times (Peh : I have no apologies for what I am) described him in 1999: ¡°Always colourful, always forceful and always expressed in Mandarin, they (his views) make him a target of critics who say he is out of touch. That happens whether he is talking about moral values, movies, foam parties, discotheques, what is shown on TV or the reach of the Internet. During the recent Budget debate, one critic remarked on the Internet that Mr Peh ¡°shouldn't be so uptight¡±. Another called on him to "open up his mind and heart". The 51-year-old Hokkien businessman who became an MP in 1988, is well aware he is regarded as a "lao gutong" - Mandarin for "antique". It brings this retort: "All antiques have value. I think my comments can add value to discussions on youth issues. I'm not old-fashioned, but I admit I'm a little conservative. People mock me when I raise these issues. It's too tiresome to respond to the criticism. They don't realise that I do it because I am concerned about the young generation."

A reader, Madam Lee Pui Fun, sent this response (We need more MPs like Mr Peh) to the newspaper's Forum pages: ¡°I am surprised he (Peh Chin Hua) has been described as old-fashioned and uptight. I believe the man has his ears to the ground; there are no ivory towers for him. The issues he has raised in Parliament show he is one of the rare few who know what is really going on and, more importantly, he is a person who is not afraid to tell the truth. It must be comforting for many parents and educators to know there is a voice out there for them.¡±

Peh had also raised several topics that became major talking points in the country, such as his suggestion for dual citizenship for Singaporeans (1990); his admonishment of elderly grassroots leaders indulging in extra-marital affairs (1993); and strident opposition to fee increases in independent schools (1989).

He retired from active politics in 2001, but remains a cadre member of the PAP, a party he first joined in 1976.