Veteran PAP MP Charles Chong likely to contest in Punggol East SMC

Mr Chong (centre) sitting on the right of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the dinner.
Mr Chong (centre) sitting on the right of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the dinner. ST PHOTO: RACHEL CHANG

SINGAPORE - Veteran MP Charles Chong attended a National Day dinner in Punggol East on Saturday, all but confirming that he will be the People's Action Party's candidate in the Opposition-held ward.

Mr Chong arrived to a warm welcome from branch activists and grassroots leaders in the single-member constituency (SMC), which the Workers' Party's Lee Li Lian won in a 2013 by-election.

Mr Chong is a familiar face to most of the activists and grassroots leaders at the dinner as large areas of the ward were under his purview when he was an MP in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC from 2001 to 2011.

Mr Chong sat on the right of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean - who was guest-of-honour at the dinner - but would not confirm or deny his move from Joo Chiat SMC to Punggol East.

He described his return to the ward as a "homecoming ... It feels like Chinese New Year when you visit old relatives".

Punggol East activists expressed their delight at his return and his likely candidacy.

"A lot of activists are very excited and have come forward to render their help for the election," said PAP assistant branch secretary Tang Wing Fai.

"They have worked with Charles before. All of them are really happy that he's coming back home and taking care of us."

The 62-year-old Mr Chong had been expected to retire, but now looks likely to face another tough electoral fight up against Ms Lee, the WP incumbent.

Asked for his view on comments that he is on suicide mission against the WP, he quipped: "Suicide for whom?"

rchang@sph.com.sg