Singapore GE2020: Workers' Party's Dennis Tan set to defend Hougang SMC

Dennis Tan of the incumbent Workers' Party will be going up against the People's Action Party's Lee Hong Chuang. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG, KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - One is looking to retain the constituency firmly under the Workers' Party (WP) banner, and the other intends to usurp the longest-held opposition ward in Singapore.

In the battle for Hougang, the single-member constituency held by the WP since 1991, candidate of the incumbent party Dennis Tan, 49, will be going up against the People's Action Party's (PAP) Lee Hong Chuang.

On Tuesday (June 30), Mr Tan turned up at the Poi Ching School, the nomination centre for Hougang SMC, shortly after it opened its gates at 10am.

Flanked by his proposers, seconders and assentors who were decked out in WP blue, Mr Tan greeted the media and waved as he entered the centre.

Mr Tan, a shipping lawyer, is a familiar face in Hougang SMC, having shadowed two-term WP MP Mr Png Eng Huat in the last three years.

Last week, the WP announced that party bigwigs like Mr Png and former party secretary general Low Thia Khiang would not be running in the coming election.

Speaking in Teochew, English and Mandarin soon after being confirmed as a candidate, Mr Tan addressed Hougang residents saying: "Please allow me to continue to serve you in Hougang and please send me back to parliament so I can continue to speak up for you. Vote for the Workers' Party."

Mr Tan, who debuted as a WP candidate in the 2015 General Election, stood in Fengshan SMC where he got 42.5 per cent of the votes, losing to the PAP's Ms Cheryl Chan.

As one of the best-performing losers in that election, he got a seat as a Non-Constituency MP and has spoken up on multiple issues in parliament over the years.

In the other corner, is PAP's Lee Hong Chuang, a senior IT manager, who was fielded in Hougang SMC in 2015 and lost with 42.3 per cent of the votes.

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Mr Png won with 57.7 per cent of the votes.

Mr Lee is chairman of PAP's Hougang branch and has been walking the ground in the WP stronghold in the last six years.

Beginning his doorstop with his election catchphrase, "Hougang Ho" which in dialect means "Hougang is good" or "Good Hougang", Mr Lee said residents seemed more welcoming in recent years, and said there have not been any challenges walking in the opposition constituency.

He feels that what Hougang residents want is for someone to serve them and build up the constituency, regardless of political party.

"Personally I think Hougang belongs to the people themselves," he said.

"In the end, they have the voice to choose who they want and who they think is able to represent them, who is able to solve all the problems, who is able to build Hougang together with them."

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