Koh pledges to work hard to make improvements in estate

PEOPLE'S Action Party candidate Koh Poh Koon closed his campaign last night with a straightforward message for Punggol East voters: Vote for me and my team, we will work hard for you.

He said at the party's rally: "The team we have that stands before you is a team that has concrete plans, a team that takes action seriously.

"We are a team that has real potential, that sees real opportunities for improvement to our estate... We are prepared to work hard."

He vowed to voice the concerns of Punggol East residents in Parliament, "vigorously and energetically and emphatically".

Taking an indirect swipe at opposition attacks on government policies, he said a resident told him it was easy to criticise, but much harder to do the work.

Introduced just two weeks ago as the PAP's candidate and a "son of Punggol", the political newcomer set out once more his plans for the ward, including improvements to make life better for the elderly as well as young families.

When campaigning kicked off last week, the colorectal surgeon went house to house on his own, with only a few volunteers.

But in the final push this week, in what PAP leaders and activists expect to be a close fight, Cabinet ministers, MPs and more than 300 activists have been out in force on the ground.

Activists from PAP branches islandwide have fanned out across the ward and, by Wednesday night, covered all 127 Housing Board blocks.

The office-holders who joined in the campaigning last night included Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Senior Minister of State (Education and Law) Indranee Rajah.

Mr Gan said: "We try our best to cover as much ground as possible to help the candidate, to engage, to reach out to residents, to share with the residents what the candidate can do for them, what he stands for."

Ms Indranee added: "We've got a good candidate. As a team, we want to support him."

At last night's rally, Dr Koh made his final pitch to voters in Malay, Mandarin and English, thanking residents, volunteers and activists for their support.

"This has been a transformative journey for me," he said.

Reflecting on his decision a month ago to enter politics and run on the PAP ticket, he said to cheers from the crowd: "As a person who has benefited from the system, I want to stand up and be counted. I want to stand up and give back to society."

He held up as an example a family of four he met whose sole breadwinner and his wife were injured in a road accident.

The PAP team in the ward, led by former MP Michael Palmer, helped to pay the family's utility bills and gave them NTUC FairPrice vouchers and food packages.

"We are the People's Action Party. We are about action. We are about putting concrete plans in place and making them a reality," he said.

"We can build the infrastructure. We can build childcare centres. We can build coffee shops. But you, Punggol East, you are the software which makes this place into a home with a heart, so please work together with us.

"Vote for me, vote for PAP. Let us turn Punggol East into a home with a heart."