Chen Show Mao

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Chen Show Mao
Chen Show Mao at a Workers' Party general election rally, Serangoon Stadium, Singapore - 20110429 (cropped).jpg
Member of Parliament
for Paya Lebar Division, Aljunied GRC
Assumed office
7 May 2011
Preceded byCynthia Phua (PAP)
Personal details
Born (1961-02-06) 6 February 1961 (age 57)
Political partyWorkers' Party of Singapore
Alma materHarvard University,
Oxford University,
Stanford University

Chen Show Mao (simplified Chinese: 陈硕茂; traditional Chinese: 陳碩茂; pinyin: Chén Shuò Mào; born 6 February 1961) is a Taiwanese-born Singaporean politician and lawyer. He is a member of the opposition Workers' Party (WP), and has been a member of parliament (MP) for the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (Aljunied GRC) since 7 May 2011. He represents the Paya Lebar ward, replacing PAP's Cynthia Phua.[2]

Personal profile[edit]

Chen was born in Taiwan and moved to Singapore at the age of 11. He studied at Nanyang Primary School, Catholic High School and Anglo-Chinese School.[3]

Although Chen had yet to become a Singapore citizen, he chose to perform compulsory military service, officially known as National Service (NS) in Singapore. While in NS, Chen was an infantry platoon commander at the Fifth Singapore Infantry Regiment (5SIR) and as Brigade Adjutant, or DYS1, at the headquarters of the Third Singapore Infantry Brigade (3SIB).[4] He became a Singapore citizen in 1986, six years after serving National Service.


Chen was the president of the students' council at National Junior College and graduated as the top student in Singapore for the 1979 GCE Advanced Level examinations,[5] scoring distinctions in various subjects.

Chen graduated as the top student for the 1979 GCE Advanced Level examinations, ahead of peers Vivian Balakrishnan and Lui Tuck Yew. Chen however did not gain admission into the local medical school.[6] Thereupon, he pursued his undergraduate studies with major in economics at Harvard University.

In 1986, Chen graduated from Harvard University and from Corpus Christi College, Oxford in 1988, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.[7] In 1992 Chen received his Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School and in 2005 received his Master of Arts from Corpus Christi College, Oxford.[8]

Legal career[edit]

Chen is a partner in the Corporate department of Davis Polk & Wardwell and a managing partner of the Beijing office. An experienced lawyer, he has practised in the New York office since 1992, the Hong Kong office since 1999 and the Beijing office since 2007.

Chen advised the Agricultural Bank of China on its US$22 billion initial public offering (IPO), which was the largest IPO in history when it completed in August 2010.[9] He also advised the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) on its US$21 billion IPO, as well as China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) on its proposed US$19 billion acquisition of Unocal. Chen also completed the global IPOs of Air China, China Construction Bank, China Unicom, Metallurgical Corp. of China, Sinopec, as well as offerings by the Ministry of Finance of the People's Republic of China (PRC).[citation needed]

Besides China, Chen has completed international securities offerings and M&A transactions by various companies including Acer, ASE, Asus, AU Optronics, BHP, Foxconn, Freeport-McMoran, HTC, TSMC and UMC. He also worked with financial institutions such as JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Republic of China (ROC).[citation needed]

Beyond that, Chen has worked with sovereign wealth funds such as the China Investment Corporation (CIC), the Development Fund of the ROC and also advised the Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan Stock Exchanges on proposed regulations. Chen was named one of American Lawyer's 2010 "Dealmakers of the Year" in April 2011.[10]

Before he began full-time practice as a corporate lawyer, Show Mao worked at a number of research institutions such as Ralph Nader’s Centre for Study of Responsive Law (CSRL), the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and the Research & Planning and Enforcement divisions of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).[11]

On 1 July 2011, Chen announced on his Facebook page that he had retired from active practice as a partner of his law firm given his new responsibilities as an MP. The decision was made so that he can spend more time with his family, to better serve his constituency and country, and that he would be exploring alternative work arrangements.[12]

Political career[edit]

During his time abroad, Chen regularly returned home to Singapore to visit his parents, his sister and her family.[13]

Chen stated that he joined the WP because he believed that "the best way to ensure good governance for Singapore is through the growth of a competitive opposition that offers a credible alternative to the party in government".[14] During an interview, Chen frankly explained why he decided to join the WP[15]

Certainly, my friends in the PAP are in a better position to formulate policy and implement policy in the short term, and therefore, have a greater impact on people's life, people's livelihood over the short term. But I think what I am doing is just as important. Perhaps more important over the long term and that is to help build up a credible opposition that in time is capable to form an alternative government.

Chen Show Mao

On 27 April 2011, Chen submitted his candidacy for the five-member Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (Aljunied GRC) with the WP's Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang, Chairman Sylvia Lim, Pritam Singh, a postgraduate law student, and Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, a freelance counsellor. The incumbent team included two cabinet ministers and one Senior Minister of State, and was helmed by the prominent Minister for Foreign Affairs, George Yeo.[16]

During the intense nine-day campaign period that followed, Chen was singled out by leaders of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) for criticism. The PAP's Organising Secretary and Minister for Education, Ng Eng Hen, questioned Chen's motives for entering politics in a letter to The Straits Times. Ng also questioned whether Chen would be able to relate to the aspirations of Singaporeans after having spent most of his career in the United States and China.[17] The PAP's co-founder and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew also suggested that Chen could return to China after losing in the election.[18]

Throughout the campaign, Chen kept a low profile when the WP was faced with tough questions, instead allowing frontman Low Thia Khiang to take the heat. He displayed his affinity with regular Singaporean culture and Singaporeans by addressing crowds at rallies with smatterings of Malay and Hokkien to dispel the notion that he was a "foreigner", as he had spent many years abroad. He also highlighted at a WP rally that he came to Singapore at a young age with his parents and sister, that he served National Service, and that he owns an apartment in Bishan and frequently commutes by train.

On 7 May 2011, Chen and his WP team won the Aljunied GRC with 54.71% of the total votes cast, with Yeo's PAP team obtaining 45.29% of the votes. The victory was considered historic because it was the first time that GRC seats had been captured by an opposition party, and the first time that two cabinet ministers had lost their parliamentary seats in a general election. Chen became the first foreign-born opposition MP in the history of Singapore, while his teammates Sylvia Lim and Muhamad Faisal Manap became the first female opposition MP and the first Malay opposition MP respectively.[19] Also, together with Pritam Singh and Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap, he became one of the first three opposition MPs to be elected into parliament at the first attempt.

In the Singapore General Election 2015, the WP candidates successfully defended Aljunied GRC against a PAP team with no political experience. Their vote share was reduced to 50.95%.

In May 2016, Chen challenged the incumbent Secretary-General and leader of the Workers’ Party Low Thia Khiang for the position and lost. [20] In September of the same year, it was reported by the press that Chen quit as Treasuer but still remained on the Exco. [21] Chen however clarified that his tenure ended. [22]

Committee of Selection[edit]

On 15 October 2011, it was announced that Chen was nominated to sit on the Committee of Selection, making him the first non-People's Action Party MP to be named to this committee.[23]

Political positions[edit]

In his maiden speech in Parliament, Chen stated how he saw himself as an opposition MP, saying that "I may challenge government policy ... perform my role to voice alternative and opposing views ... but it does not mean I do not support the government in its work". Chen further added that "I am not the enemy of the government. I am a Singaporean, a patriot." [24] During the Ministerial Salary Review debate in January 2012, Chen further expressed his opinion that political office is a calling and should neither be treated as a discount factor, nor be monetised. [25]

Together with his fellow WP opposition MPs, Chen questioned the 2013 Population White Paper.[26] In his speech on 5 February 2014, Chen proposed instead to increase the resident workforce growth of Singapore citizens and permanent residents by up to 1% per year till 2030. He also proposed that the foreign workforce size be held constant except when growth targets for the resident labour force are not met.[27] Previously, Chen had suggested redefining industry segments when considering the issue of foreign worker dependency.[28]

Within parliament and at WP election rallies, Chen has called for more recognition and support for older Singaporean, including the promotion of industries catering to the older population.[29][30][31][32] He has also called for welfare and government support for older Singaporeans and their caregivers to be more accessible.[33][34] Chen and his fellow WP colleagues have called for acknowledging the contributions of matured Singaporean workers.[35]

In addition to older Singaporeans, Chen also advocated for investing in the poorer, disabled segments of society, terming this as "unlocking social value".[36] Other subjects Chen has spoken on in parliament include angel funding for the arts,[37] data protection,[38] casino control,[39] and scholarships for regional studies.[40]

Family and personal life[edit]

Chen is married. He and his wife had three children, one of whom is deceased.[41] His wife, a homemaker, was born in Taiwan but grew up in Indonesia. His wife and children are US citizens.[42]

Current appointments[edit]


  1. ^ "Mr Chen Show Mao". Parliament of Singapore. Government of Singapore. 6 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  3. ^ "Mr Chen Show Mao: Member's CV". Government of Singapore. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 July 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Ex-Rhodes Scholar is potential WP candidate". The Straits Times. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "China's AgBank sets record as world's largest IPO: report". AFP. 14 August 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 July 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Chen Show Mao retires from active practice at law firm". Channel News Asia. 1 July 2011.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-27.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-27.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "My last election? That depends on..." AsiaOne. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  19. ^
  20. ^ hermes (2016-05-30). "Low Thia Khiang beats Chen Show Mao in Workers' Party polls to retain secretary-general post". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  21. ^ hermes (2016-09-09). "Chen Show Mao quits as Workers' Party's treasurer; still in exco". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  22. ^ "Chen Show Mao clarifies he didn't resign as Workers' Party treasurer". Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  23. ^ "Chen first non-PAP MP nominated for Committee of Selection". Yahoo News. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  24. ^ "Workers Party MP Chen Show Mao Parliament speech". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 July 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 September 2014. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 October 2013. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 August 2014. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 July 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  36. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  37. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 October 2013. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  38. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  39. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  40. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 October 2013. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  41. ^ Ko Siew Huey. "GE is about us, our future: Chen Show Mao". The Online Citizen. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  42. ^ "Chen first non-PAP MP nominated for Committee of Selection". theonlinecitizen. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  43. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 July 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Singapore
Preceded by
George Yeo, Cynthia Phua, Zainul Abidin bin Mohamed Rasheed, Lim Hwee Hua, Faishal Ibrahim
Member of Parliament
for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency

21 May 2011–
Served alongside: Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim, Pritam Singh, Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap