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GE2020: Face off between PAP and WP in Hougang SMC

PAP's Leong Hong Chuang makes his second bid to represent Hougang SMC.

FOR the second time, Lee Hong Chuang, adviser to Hougang grassroots organisations and chair of the People’s Action Party (PAP) branch in Hougang, is contesting the Hougang SMC seat.

He will stand against the Workers’ Party (WP) Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan as incumbent Png Eng Huat will not be standing in this General Election (GE).

In the 2015 GE, Mr Lee lost to Mr Png after the latter secured 57.69 per cent of the votes in Hougang SMC.

Hougang SMC has been a WP stronghold since Low Thia Khiang won the seat in 1991, and is currently the longest-held opposition seat.

Asked if he stands a better chance this time round against WP's Mr Tan, PAP's Mr Lee replied: "I have never thought about this. For me, the most important thing is to build friendships and serve the community to my best ability."

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On whether he would do anything differently this time, Mr Lee said: "Basically, I think we are more welcomed in the estate.  We did more for the residents in terms of facilities and infrastructure."

"When I walk around I don't feel it is a WP or PAP ward because we have built a lot of friendships. I don't think there are any challenges. I just know what I can do for the people and what the people need from me."

As for why Hougang residents should vote for him, Mr Lee believes the question should be posed to residents instead:"That you have to check with the residents. It's beyond me."

Meanwhile Mr Tan, 50, has been a familiar face in the SMC, where he has been shadowing Mr Png for the past few years.

Said Mr Tan: "Please allow me to continue to serve you in Hougang and please send me back to Parliament so that I can continue to speak up."

The shipping lawyer, who debuted as a WP candidate in the 2015 General Election, is said to have been assisting Mr Png at Meet-the-People Sessions, and is also a regular at constituency events, temple dinners, as well as tea sessions with residents, sparking speculation that he may be fielded in Hougang.

He is also often seen in pictures posted on WP’s Hougang SMC Facebook page, another indication that he is being groomed for the constituency.

Mr Tan would be the third WP candidate to contest the Hougang constituency after Mr Low’s departure. His ability to converse in Teochew, which Mr Low often uses in election rally speeches, would be a factor in his candidacy in Hougang, said party sources.

During the 2015 GE, Mr Tan stood in Fengshan SMC, where he got 42.5 per cent of the votes, losing to the PAP’s Cheryl Chan. As one of the best-performing losers in that election, he got a seat as a Non-Constituency MP.

Mr Png, 58, a businessman and card-carrying member of the WP since 2006, entered politics in 2011, when he was fielded as a candidate in East Coast GRC.

His team lost by a nine-point margin to the PAP team led by then National Trades Union Congress secretary-general Lim Swee Say. But a year later, Mr Png strode into the national spotlight when he was picked as the WP candidate to succeed WP MP Yaw Shin Leong in the party’s Hougang base during the 2012 by-election.

That year, Mr Png beat the PAP’s Desmond Choo with 62.1 per cent of the vote. He defended the WP stronghold again in 2015, but won with a smaller vote share of 57.66 per cent against PAP newcomer Lee Hong Chuang.

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