PAP's new face in Hougang SMC gearing up for a tough fight

Mr Lee Hong Chuang (centre). ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

The People's Action Party (PAP) candidate in the opposition stronghold of Hougang SMC, Mr Lee Hong Chuang, is expecting a tough fight ahead of him.

After all, the Workers' Party (WP) has held the single-seat ward for 24 years since party chief Low Thia Khiang won it in 1991.

"Hougang is not going to be easy ground. So I often think that one should not think just of oneself. It's about thinking of others, observing them and serving them," said the 45-year-old senior IT manager.

The odds of the contest ahead were acknowledged by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when he introduced Mr Lee to the media at a press conference yesterday as the man the PAP will field in Hougang.

Said PM Lee, the PAP's secretary-general: "In Hougang, Hong Chuang expects to have a tough fight. But I know him, he has a fighting spirit, and he is going there with the full backing of the party."

"We want to tell Hougang voters that their current MP is not serving them as well as he could or should, whether in the town council or in Parliament. Hong Chuang, backed by the PAP, can do much better," he added, referring to MP Png Eng Huat of the WP.

Mr Lee, who began walking the ground last May, said that the infrastructure in Hougang, an older estate, can be further improved.

His key strategy to winning over Hougang? Being sincere when meeting residents, he said.

"I want to tell residents, I'm here to serve you. I'll try my best to gain their trust, get them to understand who I am," said the father of two.

Mr Lee has been an active volunteer for more than 20 years, beginning as a camp instructor for children in 1989. He now chairs the Hougang Community Club Management Committee and its building fund, among other grassroots posts.

He introduced himself using a mixture of English, Mandarin, Hokkien and Teochew to connect with residents.

Later, he made clear to reporters that he does not see himself as a "sacrificial lamb" being sent into a fight he cannot win, saying: "My main concern in Hougang is really whether I'm able to help them resolve their problems."

He added: "Hougang is still a place which the PAP has won before. "So I hope that this time round, we can make a difference."

Charissa Yong

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 16, 2015, with the headline PAP's new face in Hougang SMC gearing up for a tough fight. Subscribe