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GE2015: Veteran PAP MP Charles Chong to contest in Punggol East
SIX-TERM People's Action Party (PAP) MP Charles Chong is the man tasked with wresting the Punggol East single seat ward back from the opposition Workers' Party (WP).
The 62-year-old veteran politician was confirmed on Thursday as the candidate to face incumbent Lee Li Lian in next month's general election (GE).
Ms Lee, 37, became the member of parliament for Punggol East in January 2013 after a by-election where she defeated three other candidates - including the PAP's Koh Poh Koon - in a four-cornered fight. She won with 54.5 per cent of the vote share.
Mr Chong contested in Joo Chiat at the last GE in May 2011 in what turned out to be one of the closest electoral battles. He managed to pull in 51 per cent of the votes, beating the WP's Yee Jenn Jong by a majority of just 388 votes.
That single seat ward, however, was absorbed into Marine Parade group representation constituency (GRC) after the electoral boundaries were redrawn last month.
Mr Chong is no stranger to the Punggol East area. He was chairman of the Pasir Ris and Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Councils from 1997 to 2006, and served as an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC from 2001 to 2011.
Earlier this month, he attended a National Day Dinner in Punggol East, and has held his own meet-the-people sessions and gone on house visits to meet as many residents as possible. At that dinner, he had described his return to Punggol East as a "homecoming".
Last week, Mr Chong said his priority for Punggol East, if he was elected, would be to sort out the town council accounts. The Punggol East area is managed by the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council.
The town council has come under fire in the last few months for the way it has managed its finances, with PAP leaders criticising the WP for its lack of accountability to the residents.
"I know that when we handed over this section, it was in relatively good shape. Now we're not quite sure whether the money used here has been diverted somewhere to help out, maybe in Hougang or in Aljunied," said Mr Chong.
"The first thing is to make sure, if we are in charge of this area, that the town council accounts are in order, so we can do the work that we need to do and perhaps also get the government to restore its grants. Now, it is holding back the grants because the accounts are not right."