Workers' Party

Hougang remains opposition stronghold

Mr Png Eng Huat thanking supporters at the Hougang Stadium after his win was announced.
Mr Png Eng Huat thanking supporters at the Hougang Stadium after his win was announced. ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

Hougang residents are sticking with the Workers' Party (WP), with the majority voting for the opposition stronghold in this year's elections.

The single-member consti-tuency's incumbent Member of Parliament Png Eng Huat retained his seat with 57.69 per cent of the votes, beating People's Action Party challenger Lee Hong Chuang, who took 42.31 per cent.

Mr Lee Ah Boon, a 52-year-old babysitter, was among the residents who showed unwavering support for their Member of Parliament. He said: "For our MP, we don't need to look out for him. He looks out for us. He treats us like friends and we can have a coffee with him at the coffee shop as he has no airs.

"I have moved house four times and all in Hougang. It's a good place because of the Workers' Party and I don't want to move out."

Mr Png, 53, thanked his voters for giving him another opportunity to serve them. He added: "I will do my best for the whole of Hougang."

However, Mr Png's winning margin had narrowed from the by-elections in 2012, when he had managed to garner 62.1 per cent of the votes.

His challenger, Mr Lee, was pleased with the improvement in margin for his own party despite the loss. At the 2012 by-election, the PAP had garnered 37.9 per cent of the votes.

The first-time candidate and former national gymnast, who previously acknowledged the enormity of his task in an area where its residents strongly favoured the opposition, said: "I think the residents trusted me and could see that I was sincere. If the Prime Minister lets me, of course I want to come back."

The 45-year-old senior IT manager's primary concern had been to forge a bond with the residents and to help solve their problems, which included a pledge to upgrade ageing facilities in the estate.

He had been walking the ground actively since May last year and had previously vowed to continue meeting residents in his current capacity as the PAP's Hougang branch chairman even if he lost.

Hougang SMC has been held by the WP since 1991, when Mr Low Thia Khiang, now the party's secretary-general, first wrested it from the PAP's Mr Tang Guan Seng.

Mr Low served Hougang for two decades before leaving the ward in 2011 to stand in Aljunied group representation constituency (GRC), as part of the WP's "A" team, which included party chairman Sylvia Lim and Rhodes scholar Chen Show Mao.

At the last general election in 2011, the WP had retained the seat, winning 64.8 per cent of the votes against the PAP.

In that election, the WP candidate was Mr Yaw Shin Leong, and the PAP candidate was Mr Desmond Choo. But Mr Yaw was later expelled from the WP for refusing to account to the party for an alleged extramarital affair. A by-election was called in 2012 and Mr Png, who replaced Mr Yaw, won the seat against Mr Choo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline 'Hougang remains opposition stronghold'. Print Edition | Subscribe