Mr. Lee, 59, an East Coast GRC MP, told reporters yesterday he had informed Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong almost two years ago that he wanted to step down. "So I'm very happy to make way for new blood," he said.
He was first elected MP for Cheng San in 1980, and continued as MP for Cheng San GRC when it was formed in 1988, before moving to Easy Coast GRC in 2001.
He led the PAP team in the hotly contested Cheng San GRC in the 1977 elections to defeat the Workers' party team with 54.8 per cent of the vote.
As a minister, he helmed the Labour, Education, Trade and Industry, Environment, and Information and the Arts ministries. When he retired as a minister in August 2005, he was Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Foreign Minister.
East Coast GRC team leader and Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar said of Mr Lee: "He has been a good friend of mine and a colleague in Parliament as well as in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I'm sorry he is stepping down," but as he said, that is how the PAP self-renews."