Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 05/16/2012 20:01 | By Channel NewsAsia

Straight fight in Hougang by—election

Straight fight in Hougang by—election

Straight fight in Hougang by—election

SINGAPORE: The Hougang by—election on May 26 will be a straight fight between Mr Png Eng Huat of the Workers’ Party (WP) and Mr Desmond Choo of the People’s Action Party (PAP).

Returning Officer Mr Yam Ah Mee declared them as candidates for the Hougang by—election at about 12.35pm on Nomination Day on Wednesday.

Mr Png and Mr Choo filed their papers at the Nomination Centre at Serangoon Junior College before nomination closed at noon.

The two candidates will hit the campaign trail in their bid to fill the seat vacated by former Workers’ Party Member of Parliament, Mr Yaw Shin Leong, after he was expelled in February for failing to account for rumours of extramarital affairs.

In his short "thank you" speech, Mr Choo thanked his supporters and pledged to serve residents and work with them for a better future in Hougang.

"Dear residents of Hougang, dear supporters. You guys have been amazing, thank you so much ... we have served the residents hard, the residents know," he said.

On his part, Mr Png urged voters to choose him as their MP so that the Workers’ Party can continue to be their voice.

Speaking to reporters after the nomination results were announced, he said he was "a little relieved" that it would be a straight fight between him and Mr Choo of the People’s Action Party.

Mr Png added that Hougang is special for him and the by—election on May 26 is as much a fight for democracy as that of a local election.

"Come 26 May, please send me into Parliament, so that the Workers’ Party can continue to be your voice in Parliament," Mr Png said.

Candidates were given an hour, between 11am and noon, to file their nomination papers. Candidates had until 12.30pm to file their objections.

Acupuncturist Mr Zeng Guoyuan, who was expected to run as an independent candidate, did not file his nomination paper.

Mr Zeng had told reporters he was disqualified, but the Elections Department later clarified that Mr Zeng did not file his nomination paper after seeking clarifications about the qualifications to be a candidate in a parliamentary election.

The fourth man, Dr Poh Lee Guan, failed to show up at the Nomination Centre.

He told reporters at a block near the nomination centre that he wanted to be a backup —— quietly and away from the limelight.

He said his conscience is clear as his action does not affect the party. In fact, it has strengthened the party, he added.

When asked why he did not inform the party, he replied that he was busy with lectures.

Meanwhile, Workers’ Party Secretary—General Low Thia Khiang told reporters at the Nomination Centre that he has not heard from Dr Poh and the party has not made any attempt to contact Dr Poh.

He also has not heard anything from Dr Poh about quitting the party.

Mr Low said the party has not yet decided on what kind of disciplinary action it will take against Dr Poh, if any.

But he said Dr Poh should have made clear his intention to the party, as he is a long—standing member of WP and a former Central Executive Council member.

Mr Low said party unity is still strong, adding that all the Aljunied GRC MPs and NCMPs are at the centre to show support for Mr Png.

He said there is no "internal strife".

On why Dr Poh was not elected to the CEC, Mr Low said he was nominated but he was not elected to the CEC as he could not get enough support.

Mr Low said he has confidence in WP supporters.

Polling Day is on Saturday, May 26. Candidates have nine days to campaign, with a Cooling—off Day on the eve of Polling Day.

— CNA/al/wm

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