PAP's Ong Ye Kung poised for election comeback in new GRC

Mr Ong (second from left) at the Woodlands bazaar with grassroots leaders yesterday. The former Aljunied GRC candidate for the PAP made it clear that he hopes to stand in the next polls, which must be called by January 2017. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Mr Ong (second from left) at the Woodlands bazaar with grassroots leaders yesterday. The former Aljunied GRC candidate for the PAP made it clear that he hopes to stand in the next polls, which must be called by January 2017. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Defeated People's Action Party candidate Ong Ye Kung, 44, looks poised for a comeback in the next general election in a new GRC.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan invited him to help out in Sembawang GRC a few weeks ago, Mr Ong told reporters yesterday at the first grassroots event he attended there.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Hawazi Daipi said Mr Ong will join in at his Marsiling Meet-the-People Sessions soon.

Mr Ong was a high-flying civil servant who quit to join the National Trades Union Congress in 2008, ahead of the last general election in 2011. He was touted as a potential office-holder, but was in the PAP team that lost in Aljunied GRC.

When he left the labour movement in November 2012 and joined Keppel Corporation as its group strategy and development director two months later, there were questions about his political future.

But yesterday he made it clear that he hopes to stand in the next election, which must be called by January 2017.

"Never have I ever announced that I'm stepping out of politics. So if there is an opportunity to contest, to participate, I will," he said.

He spoke to reporters at the opening ceremony of the Bazaar Raya Utara in Woodlands, a Ramadan fair to raise funds for the community. Also present were Mr Khaw and other Sembawang GRC MPs.

Mr Ong said his move was a party decision: "We join parties, we are subject to team rules, we have to be part of the team. It's like I play football, and the manager decides where I play."

He said his Kaki Bukit ward in Aljunied GRC had new leaders, and added that he realised it might be time for him to move on as well.

He is expected to hand over the Kaki Bukit PAP branch chairmanship to Mr Kahar Hassan, 45, a deputy director (infrastructure) with rail operator SMRT. Malay voters make up about 25 per cent of residents in the ward, higher than the 14 per cent national average.

When asked about Mr Ong's move, Mr Khaw, who is adviser to the Sembawang grassroots organisations, declined to comment.

Aside from Mr Ong, there were two other potential PAP candidates at yesterday's event.

Corporate lawyer Amrin Amin, 35, moved recently from helping out in the GRC's Marsiling ward to join Ms Ellen Lee's Woodlands ward. Hai Leck Holdings deputy chief executive Cheng Li Hui, 38, is on the ground in Admiralty.

Asked if the influx of new faces might signal that boundaries will be redrawn, Ms Lee said that redrawing might be a "practical thing" as the GRC's population has grown by about 10 per cent since the last general election, with new Housing Board estates completed.

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