Desmond Choo: 'I had asked to stay in Hougang'

Tampines GRC MPs Mah Bow Tan (left) and Irene Ng (centre) will not run in the coming general election, while Mr Desmond Choo (right), who previously stood in Hougang, has been added to the Tampines team.
Tampines GRC MPs Mah Bow Tan (left) and Irene Ng (centre) will not run in the coming general election, while Mr Desmond Choo (right), who previously stood in Hougang, has been added to the Tampines team.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

He lost two elections in the single-seat ward and will now run as Tampines GRC candidate

People's Action Party (PAP) candidate Desmond Choo, who lost twice to the Workers' Party (WP) in Hougang in two separate elections, had wanted to remain in the single-seat ward.

When pressed on what he had told party leadership about where he wanted to be fielded in the upcoming election, he said: "I definitely asked... to stay."

But he had to respect the party's decision to field him in Tampines GRC instead, said the 37-year-old.

"I believe the party makes the best decisions on behalf of the residents," he said.

The PAP's Hougang candidate this time is Mr Lee Hong Chuang, 45, a senior IT manager.

Mr Choo stood in Hougang during the 2011 General Election but lost to WP candidate Yaw Shin Leong. After Mr Yaw was sacked by the WP in 2012 over his silence in an alleged extramarital affair, Mr Choo stood in the by-election.

But he lost again to the WP's candidate, this time Mr Png Eng Huat.

Mr Choo's campaign slogan during the 2012 by-election, "Always here for you", was seen as a reference to Mr Yaw's sacking from the WP and flight from Singapore.

Yesterday, when asked about the perception that he is not keeping his campaign promise to Hougang residents, Mr Choo replied: "Since 1991 when PAP lost in Hougang, it has continued to be there for Hougang residents."

On the prospects of an easier campaign in Tampines GRC compared with Hougang - a WP stronghold since 1991 - the director of the youth development wing in labour movement NTUC said: "After going through two setbacks, you will never take any place for granted."

He said he will use his unionist background in helping residents. "Anyone who has employment needs can come to me, I will try to provide the best assistance possible," he said.

Mr Choo and his wife Pamela are expecting their first child in October. The soon-to-be first-time father also wants to champion the cause of young families, including balancing work demands and family commitments and having access to childcare facilities.

Mr Choo's fellow new face in Tampines GRC is Ms Cheng Li Hui, 39, who recounted her "simple but comfortable" childhood. "I was fortunate to have progressed in the environment the Government nurtured and this led me to believe in contributing back to society," said the daughter of a shipyard painter.

She started volunteering during Meet-the-People sessions in Bukit Panjang in 2003 and began under-studying outgoing Tampines GRC MP Mah Bow Tan in Tampines East this February. She added that she was passionate about active ageing and healthy living: "Through my interactions, I feel our seniors would like to continue to be active participants in society and have much to contribute."

•Additional reporting by Charissa Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2015, with the headline 'Desmond Choo: 'I had asked to stay in Hougang''. Print Edition | Subscribe