PAP to field surgeon Dr Koh Poh Koon as candidate for Punggol East by-election
Dr Koh Poh Koon
The ruling People's Action Party will field surgeon Dr Koh Poh Koon as its candidate in the Punggol East by-election.
He was introduced as the party's choice this morning, a day after the Writ of Election was issued by the President.
The ward was left vacant after its former MP Michael Palmer resigned last month due to an extra-marital affair.
It was hardly a surprise when surgeon Dr Koh Poh Koon was introduced.
Speculation has been rife over the past two days that he would be the PAP candidate.
The 40-year-old surgeon is a fresh face.
Although he's been a grassroots volunteer since 2002.
It was only three weeks ago that he joined as member of the PAP.
Dr Koh said he was approached to stand as a candidate within the last month.
The newcomer described himself as a "son of Punggol" - having been born in the area and spending his childhood there.
He gave an account of his humble beginnings - growing up poor, with a father who was a bus driver, working two shifts a day.
He lives in a 5-room HDB flat in Telok Blangah.
"Before we moved into our house in the combined accounts of our banks, in the pockets together we had $11.50, so we were scratching our heads thinking how to even have our first meal in the house when we had no money to buy chopsticks? We went down to Toyogo at Lorong 8 Toa Payoh and we had to count the number of pieces of chopsticks we can buy with $11.50 to equip our home."
Dr Koh said he and his family are proof of the success of Singapore's meritocratic system.
And that he felt duty bound to step up, to shape the country's future.
He also said his priority is to take care of residents' needs so he chose to do his first introductory walkabout at Rivervale Plaza.
Quite a number of residents have expressed unhappiness over the fact that the upgrading works have stalled, due to the contractor going bankrupt.
At the mall, caretaker MP Teo Ser Luck introduced Dr Koh to residents.
And briefed him on the unfinished upgrading works.
Dr Koh said if elected, he would look into having more childcare facilities and community clubs in the area.
The PAP had been considering Dr Koh as a potential candidate for the next general election.
The party's First Assistant Secretary-General Teo Chee Hean said several other names were considered for Punggol East but it picked Dr Koh, because it felt he was the best candidate.
"To the residents of Punggol East, we are sorry to have to put you through a by-election, we promised that we will continue to look after the residents of Punggol East and we want to fulfil this promise, so we've chosen carefully a good candidate, with roots here in Punggol, an HDB heartlander who can understand your problems,"
Nomination Day is the 16th of this month.
And if there is a contest, Polling will be on the 26th.
By Imelda Saad
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