Monday, 21 January 2013

Lead-up to Punggol East by-election

Update 31 Jan 2013 - White Clouds Clearing For Blue Skies

By-election not about helping political parties: Koh
Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob gives her fullest support to Koh Poh Koon. (Yahoo! photo) 

People’s Action Party’s candidate for Punggol East Dr Koh Poh Koon brushed aside the jabs made by the Workers’ Party against the ruling party in a rally Tuesday night.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday noon during a walkabout in the single-member constituency, Koh tried to put the focus of the by-election on the importance of the individual and local concerns.

“This by-election is about finding the best person to serve the residents needs. It’s not really to better the interest of another political party. We’ve got to be clear what the election is about,” Koh said when asked for comment on calls to support the opposition in Parliament by putting more opposition members there.

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Wind Of Change

At the final rally of WP at Punggol East on 23 Jan 2013, this little guy and his parents are no ordinary 'kiasu', 'kiasi' and 'kiakui' Singaporeans.

They are not afraid of 'losing', 'dying' or the 'demon/devil' of the power that is! Beside him is the ever-present WP Rally Trumpeter and Drummer who does much to liven up the atmosphere.

For all who missed the rally, may I lead you [here] to watch and listen to the wind of change. 

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Hoping for no change

I refer to the 23 Jan 2013 Straits Times report “Koh said ‘no’ to PM at first”.

Dr Koh hopes that he will not change with time and will continue to be himself instead of toeing the PAP party line even when he disagreed with it. If Dr Koh himself isn’t sure he won’t change with time, how can we be sure he will be sufficiently convicted of his ideals and beliefs and not compromise on them when the time comes?

Dr Koh only has to look at his fellow medical specialist Dr Vivian Balakrishnan who was reputed to be a government critique but ended up defending government policies with the most unbelievable question “Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?”

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Punggol East By-Election: The Campaign So Far

At PAP’s first rally in the Punggol East by-election, party leaders stressed that “the government has listened and learnt.” Education Minister Mr Heng Swee Kiat said, “Listening to you, we’ve learnt much. We share your concerns.” In a similar manner, Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of Law and Education, added that “We have not misread and we have not forgotten the message the electorate has given.”

To reinforce PAP’s message, a slew of measures to tackle Singaporeans’ concerns was splashed across the front pages of our local press over the past week. Singaporeans were told that 200,000 new homes will be built by 2016 and there will be two new MRT lines by 2030. In the more immediate future, the government will increase the number of trains and buses to ease the public transport bottleneck. A new round of property cooling measures was also launched.

While these announcements were no doubt timed to boost PAP’s winning chances in the Punggol East by-election, they would be welcomed by Singaporeans who are facing housing and transport woes amid the relentless rise in cost of living. Perhaps the government has finally heard the people’s voices?

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Punggol East – So far very tame, very civilised

For the watchers of this by election who expect a lot of fire and storm, it must be a big disappointment. So far everything appears to be very mild and tame. There were great expectations given the indiscretion of the ex MP who was also the ex Speaker of Parliament. Many could remember the fire and ferocity of the attack by the ruling party against the WP then in Hougang.

All the big guns were firing in full force and the WP was finding no place to hide. It was shame, shame and shame all round. It was high morality against individual failings and indiscretion. It was monks and priests against sinners.

In this case all the shame, shame and shame somehow disappeared. There was a lack of viciousness from the WP side. Even the name Michael Palmer was not even mentioned, I think, forgive me if I am wrong on this, but I wasn’t following the rally speeches closely. I can only feel the kindness and the politeness in the whole tussle from all quarters. My respect to the honourable men and women in the opposition for not spreading the swill and shit out into the open for airing.

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No Smoke Without Fire

At the Workers Party by-election rally on Tuesday night, Sylvia Lim called her Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) experience "eye-opening", noting that it was the first time an opposition party had been able to dig into documents showing how the PAP town councils have been managing Housing Board estates, and coming across aspects that show how political town management had become. Surely that's reason enough to vote more alternate party members into parliament to do more digging.
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Did TCs develop software for $5M before selling it to AIM for $140K?

A reader has forwarded LinkedIn information of a person by the name of Jonathan Tan to TR Emeritus. LinkedIn is a social networking website for job seekers and business professionals. It is used by people for professional networking and fostering business relationships. The information is public:

According to LinkedIn, Jonathan Tan is currently “Director, ASEAN & Pakistan at Palo Alto Networks”, presumably looking after sales.
From the summary of his CV, he describes himself as a professional with over 20 years of sales experience and a deal maker. He claims to have an excellent sales record, cutting deals in the millions of dollars:

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I know what it's like for a family to struggle: PAP's Koh Poh Koon

“I know what it is like, when all we could afford for a family of seven was a single kuning fish and some porridge. My mom will strip the fish bare of all the flesh, mash it up, mix it in the porridge… and that’s all we get for a meal.

“For her, she will just take the bare bones, the head and the tail because she believed in giving and saving the rest for us. There were times when we could not even afford this," he said to a mixed crowd of people in their 20s and 30s and more elderly folk.

"And those were the days when a tin of biscuits given by my uncle will be the ration for the family for a couple of weeks,” he told the crowd, while adding that he wasn’t relating this to raise eyebrows or create headlines. 

PM Lee: No strong alternatives by WP since being elected to Parliament

Yahoo! Newsroom/Yahoo! photo - PM Lee, with candidate Dr Koh Poh Koon, during a breakfast meeting on Saturday morning

PM Lee, who is also secretary-general of the PAP, said that its candidate Dr Koh Poh Koon has the potential to reach greater heights if he wins come Polling Day next Saturday.

"But I told him his first priority is to fight and win in PE, win the support and trust of residents," said PM Lee, who was accompanied by Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing and other party members.

"When he is ready, and when I judge he is ready... I will be appointing him to a suitable political office but we will decide what, later on."

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CHANGE: Koh good as Welfare Committee Chief?

<Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was one of the rally speakers, said he intends to appoint Dr Koh to the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council’s Welfare Committee, “to look into how we can better assist those residents who are facing financial difficulties”.> - Today 19 Jan 2012

Comparing to the previous parliament speaker Palmer, the new PAP candidate, Dr Koh Poh Koon, is unlikely to make any impact in the Parliament or raise any national issues.  Instead, he is likely to chair a Welfare Committee in a town council.

Perhaps, PM Lee realises that it is not enough to attract Punggol East voters.  Just one night, less than 24 hours, the PAP has improved the offer. Now, PM Lee sees him differently and intends to appoint him to a suitable political office.

PAP Rally – Bigwigs overwhelming support for the Local Son

Bread and butter issues were the order of the night at the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) first rally for the Punggol East by-election. While Dr Koh Poh Koon played up his credentials as a son of Punggol, a succession of ministers promised action to improve housing, education and transportation in Singapore

Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of Law and Education, said, “We have made moves in housing and transport because we as a party listen to you. You are very important to us.”

Education Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat followed up, addressing the concerns Ms Rajah mentioned. “Listening to you, we learned much. HDB (Housing Development Board) will build 70000 BTO (Build-to-Order) flats. Over the next five years, every year, we will open new sections in the MRT network. In 17 years we will double the MRT lines. We will add 800 buses. We are improving healthcare…and will build a new hospital in Sengkang.”

Where the previous speakers chose a hard, factual approach, Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean adopted a softer, more personal touch. Apologising for the necessity of having a by-election, Mr Teo said, “We’ve found the best candidate for you. Dr Koh has stayed in Punggol East since he was young. He understands the hardships you face and wants the best for your children.” Mr Teo concluded his speech by saying, “I will appoint Dr Koh to the Town Council’s welfare wing, to assist people with financial difficulties.” 

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By-election campaigning has been conducted with dignity: Ng Eng Hen 

Dr Ng said: "For Dr Koh Poh Koon, my residents are telling me that, well, he comes across as humble and understanding residents' needs. But obviously Dr Koh will have to prove that to residents and be able to meet their needs."

Dr Ng added that the fact that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thinks Dr Koh has potential for higher office speaks volumes about the candidate's capabilities.

He said Punggol East residents will welcome having a potential office-holder to represent them.

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Political Strategy and the Punggol East by-elections

Simple question : If you are putting up posters for an election, how do you position the posters on a lamp post so that they get noticed?

The answer is put at at eye level so that people don't have to tilt their heads up and down to see it. You also do not want to put too many words on the poster and clutter it  Next simple question : Who are the best people to get to help out in an election to get things done to help you win the election?  You want people whose interests are aligned with yours and want to see you elected.

These people are motivated by the right incentives who will put in the extra effort to make sure your posters are positioned properly when they put it up,  they will try to convince voters to select you when hand out your pamphlets and having people with real enthusiasm that will energizes your campaign. If you can't convince people to help you, you will have to spend money on hired hands to get things done and their interest may be to make money rather help you win the election.

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OPINION: Dr Koh's campaign sinking, PAP launches rescue boat, 19 Jan 2013

According to analysts this is probably the first time that close observers of politics are unable to make a reasonable call on the results. The PAP feels the same and have decided to launch the rescue lifeboat and this is the first time the PM made a "non-promise" of sorts. See the PM's exact quote below.
"I think he (Dr Poh) can make a contribution not just in Punggol East but broadly, nationally. When he is ready, and I judge that he is ready, and we are ready, I will be appointing him to a suitable political office,"
Read the exact quote - there are 3 conditions to be met 1) when Koh is ready, 2) when the PM judges he is ready and 3) when the party or cabinet is ready.
The Toa Payoh Brothel as usual wrote something quite misleading. This is what ST wrote "If he is elected and when he is ready, PM Lee said that he intends to appoint Dr Koh to a suitable political office". Only one condition.
In essence, he is not obliged to appoint Dr Koh to a political office. The man himself just moved to private practice.Will look bad to his patients and his staff and to those doctors who have referred cases to him.
The PM has also decided to bring out all the big boys unlike Hougang. Full story

Dr Koh: I won't ride on PAP brand and heavyweights - 13 Jan 2013

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PM Lee, if Dr Koh can be more than MP, why was he not featured last GE?

The PAP is so smart that back in 2011 when we had the GE, it knew that in Jan 2013, Punggol East would have a by election. That's why PM Lee kept his ace card, Dr Koh Poh Koon, and did not feature him in GE 2011.

Either that or Dr Koh got lost on his way to the nomination centre back in 2011.
Dr Koh has ability to be more than an MP: PM Lee 

So PM Lee, if you really think Dr Koh can be more than MP, why was he left out in GE 2011 and in place, we had coat-tailer "I don't know what to say" Tin Pei Ling, who isn't even fit to be MP, instead?

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Can the contest stay positive?

As the People’s Action Party (PAP) stalwarts walked in one by one onto the Punggol East field last night, it reminded me of a funny story that has been going around  during the hustings.

It is a story of  veteran MPs telling PAP candidate Dr Koh Poh Koon to campaign as hard as he can before the ministers started to get involved. Because that is when the campaign starts to get a life of its own, often turning unpredictable.

Perhaps it was told in jest. Or not. After all, the Hougang by-election, just eight months ago, is a stark reminder of how quickly a campaign can turn that way and at times, turn ugly.

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80-year-old gets crowd cheering at PAP rally

Dr Koh giving Madam Seleha a hug after her speech in support of him. She said he was 'very caring' of the elderly. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Madam Seleha later told The Straits Times she ran as an opposition candidate in an election in 1964. However, she declined to disclose her political party then.

"But I've seen how the PAP policies benefit Singapore. I've benefited as well," she said, explaining her change of heart. She now does grassroots volunteer work, aside from being a copywriter.

After her speech, Dr Koh stood up to shake her hand and helped her back to her seat. Despite the rain, she declined repeated offers to be led off the stage to a shelter.

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General Election 1963: Kampong Kembangan

PAPMohamed Ariff bin Suradi7,12748.31+11.58

SAMohammed Ali bin Alwi3,69225.03-13.83

Partai RakyatSaleha binte Mohamed Shah2,67418.13+16.11

UPPIbrahim bin Jaffar9146.20+6.20

Pan Malayan Islamic PartyMohamed Dali bin Muin3442.33+0.31

PAP gain from UMNOSwing+11.58

What Would They Not Do To Put Him In A Good Light?

I think the good doctor is carrying his childhood sob story too far. Just what has kuning fish feeding seven members of his family and his poor mother eating fishbone got to do with:
If this is the best that PAP and Dr Chopstcks can do to win East Punggolites over, I think WP will create another political first in Singapore. Having broken the world record of beating PAP in a GRC, WP will make history again by beating the ruling party in a 4-cornered fight!

If Dr Koh needs a 80-year-old lady to appear on stage to say, "He is not sombong (Malay for proud). He is no yayapapaya. He is very caring of the old, and touches old people's hearts", PAP must have lost the plot and are digging the bottom of the barrel to get some! 

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Punggol East residents: Do you really want this super-busy Dr Koh to represent you?

In the first place, who do we have to thank for this multi-cornered fight? A lot of people, myself included, blamed idiots like Jeyaretnam and Desmond. But, if you think it further, it all boils down to PAP’s fault. Because of this thing call GRCs, they have made SMCs so rare that it is virtually like finding water in the desert!! Now, why was GRC necessary in the first place? These hypocrites like to tell you that GRCs are here to ensure that minority races are represented adequately in the Parliament. Then, my question to our PM is why did he send Michael Palmer, an Eurasian to compete in our SMC?! If an Eurasian can represent so many Chinese voters in Punggol East, then there is no need for GRCs to exist!!

Next, we move on to this point about fair representation in the Parliament. You want to have proportionate representation of different races in the Parliament. Then, what about proportionate representation in gender? In one study done in 2010, it showed that Singapore has 974 men for every 1000 women. What about our Parliament then? 66 men and 18 women!! You call this ratio proportionate?

Does the government understand the challenges faced by a single mom? Is the government doing enough not to short-change women who are still single by choice? Frankly speaking, I have ZERO respect for any MIWs, except Mdm Halimah!! To me, she has always been very vocal in virtually all issues that have been debated in the Parliament. If I am not wrong, her attendance in the Parliament has been 100%!! But, look what happened now? They “appointed” the most vocal woman to be the Speaker!! So, who is going to speak up for our women voters now?!

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I read the recent article [Link] on Dr Koh’s humble days of living off fish and porridge and how he “knows” what it’s like to struggle back in the old days, and how he can relate with families that are putting up with this struggle today.

Dr Koh should ask himself and the PAP, what had gone wrong. How is it after so many years of so called Swiss standard of living with sky high buildings and fast cars on small roads, you still see Singaporeans going hungry and picking of scraps from hawker centers?

You see our Singaporean elders waiting to clean tables, washing toilets and some even got no money to see the doctor, all this is still happening even after so years of PAP rule.

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No more kampung to come home to

I refer to the 11 Jan 2013 Straits Times article “Homecoming for a bus driver’s son” on new PAP candidate Dr Koh Poh Koon.

Describing Dr Koh’s campaigning in Punggol as home coming is less than appropriate because the kampung that Dr Koh grew up in is no longer around for Dr Koh to come home to. Instead, the Punggol of today comprises one of the youngest and most educated populations who most likely grew up elsewhere and would not consider Dr Koh as someone coming home.

There is nothing exceptional about coming from humble backgrounds, many of us do and two of the three opposition candidates probably came from humble backgrounds too. Dr Koh’s humble childhood experience is probably nowhere as horrible as seeing one’s father sued bankrupt for reasons that are unclear to me. Having a humble background doesn’t mean one will empathise with the poor once one has become rich.

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5 Things Punggol East Residents Will Consider Before Voting

I have  met a foreign citizen  from India who stays in Sengkang last year. He was out of job for a while and works as an engineer. He seeked out support  from our organisation and I  was not surprised that he felt negative about his prospect here.

However, I was shocked when he later revealed that he has applied for work visa to work in Australia and wanted to sell off his property for a  tidy profit as he has stayed In Sengkang  for close to 7 years already.
He owns a 5-rm flat and bought it for less than $150, 00.

I wondered who he will vote for if he is still struggling in Singapore right now as a jobless converted  citizen? 

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Rich, poor
Conventional wisdom has it that the rich will not blame the government for being so but the poor tend to put the blame of their plights on the government. But statistics in last election is telling a different story. In the Bukit Timah Holland GRC, HDB dwellers had been more supportive of the government that those living in private properties. The rich, perhaps having made it in life and seeing no problems for themselves, are giving sympathy votes to the Opposition, hoping to give them a winning chance.

Municipal issues
Punggol East consists of mainly Sengkang and part of Punggol. Being a relatively new township, it is not surprising that you can find deficiencies in   infrastructures, amenities, facilities, etc. An MP from the ruling party will be able to solve these problems better.

National issues – Foreigners
The issue of there being too many foreigners have not gone away. Government tries to convince  the people that foreigners bring in skills, expertise and wealth which result in more and better employment for Singaporeans. But Singaporeans tend to believe that foreigners are taking away lucrative jobs from them and crowding them out of public places. Since the last GE, the government has taken some measures to restrict the employment of foreigners.

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In the ST article ‘Close fight between PAP and WP: Analysts’ yesterday (17 Jan), written by ST Political Correspondent, Robin Chan, he wrote that analysts say PAP will win, by quoting the remarks of just 1 person.

He actually started the article in a neutral tone by saying political analysts “predicted a close fight between the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Workers’ Party (WP) in Punggol East”.

He acknowledged that the Punggol East by-election was triggered by the resignation of former PAP MP, Michael Palmer, over an extramarital affair.

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And Then There Were Four

Before nomination day, he was like, "I'm my own man. I run my own campaign". After nomination day, he's visibly propped up from the behind by - and this is the fun part - the "keechiu" general, the "whaddya think" guy, and the weird Michael Palmer pal who likes to hear his own name yelled out in triplicate at political rallies.

Flanked by ex-rear admiral Teo Chee Hean, architect of the Hougang rout, the colorectal doctor said, "My strategy is the same: listen more, empathise more, interact more." Same of what? The doc doesn't exactly have much of a track record to recall. Dr Francis Seow-Choen, of the same Fortis Colorectal Hospital, said  Koh told his colleagues "about three weeks to a month back" that he had been called up by the Prime Minister  for a "tea session". Someone should read the tea leaves in that cup.

Support will definitely be forthcoming from other traditional sources too. Look out for extra traffic wardens posted at carparks adjacent to opposition party rally sites. Parking lots will be mysteriously "reserved", but the signs will not indicate for who or for what.  Squads of mobile policemen will be at their vigilant best, ever ready to book the slightest parking infringement. Don't expect the opposition party MPs to accomplish what MP Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) did, which was to ask the officer to "apply a light touch and not issue any summons". Even if, as LTA claims, "the vehicles were parked in an orderly manner and did not cause any obstructions."

Mama shops hoard tissue papers in preparation for upcoming election

Provision shops have begun hoarding tissue paper in anticipation of a deluge of politicians’ sob stories.

Firing off the first round of tear gas was newly appointed Speaker of Parliament, Halimah Yacob. Unlike the rest of the 20% in Singapore who can afford to live in private property, Yacob chose to be with the 80% living in public housing. A 5-room flat, next to her relatives who are her neighbours.

Firing off the second round was Dr Koh Poh Koon, PAP candidate for Punggol East who put his over-privileged political counterparts to shame by admitting that he only had $11.50 in his bank account after buying his first flat with his wife. The “son of Punggol” upped his “heartland credentials” by describing his early childhood in a farmhouse.

"Lian Lian How" 莲莲好!

As much as local concerns like the Rivervale Plaza and lack of childcare centers in Punggol East will affect the voting, I'm sure that national issues listed above will have a negative impact on PAP's Dr Chopsticks!

Many compare the "qualifications' of Li Lian and Dr Chopsticks. Some, especially those in PAP figure that Dr Chopsticks with his elitist titles and positions [Link] can serve East Punggolites better. I'm not too sure. Where values are concerned, is it not a lack of faith, integrity, honour and self-respect to forsake older loyal party members and put a 3-week-old newbie party member in such a spotlight? Just what would PAP's 'ministerial material' Ong Yee Khun [Link] think and feel? Betrayed? Or relieved that he will not have to lose again?

What do you think?


Since the reign of ex-PM Goh CT, SG night sky has not been too bright. More and more Singaporeans are not getting happier and are not very keen in bringing another generation to a dreary land.  On the north of SG, did we know Rivervale Mall project was in shambles during PAP Michael Palmer’s watch?  Was there more coffee shops and wet market under a PAP MP?  PE voter knows the answer.

PAP used to threaten voters with HDB upgrading, and it didn’t work in Hougang and Aljunied GRC.  They don’t need to repent.  Recently, PAP was found selling public owned Town Council’s software to private company owned by them to disrupt smooth transfer of town council to WP and engage in conflict of interest activities as well as not doing the right thing to protect public assets.

Singaporeans including PE residents are living in a period where foreigners are taking away our jobs or threatening our job security with their willingness to work for less and longer hours since they either got worse job offer back home or none at all.  Some were caught using fake qualifications.  A few insulted Singaporeans when here as guest either on scholarship or to make money.  Supplement workers especially in service and construction industry is necessary though productivity must be increased to avoid over reliant on foreign workforce.  However, there’s no strong measure from the PAP ruling government to protect the PMET group of Singaporeans from the influx of foreigners.  Real wage increases for Singaporeans are also marginal vis-à-vis GDP growth, inflation and higher cost of living.

Punggol East – What the voters want

The people deserve the govt they elected. So the Punggol East voters would have to think very carefully who they are electing to represent them in parliament. There are many local and national issues that are affecting the people’s life adversely.

Would the elected MP be there to speak up for the people or would they be defending the govt’s policies because they belong to the govt and the ruling party?

Or would they be speaking against the opposition for raising the people’s concern and problems in parliament?

The politics of "close fights"

In the five minutes that he spoke to reporters yesterday after nomination proceedings for the Punggol East by-election, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that it would be a “close fight” four times.

People’s Action Party candidate Koh Poh Koon characterised it that way too, as did PAP activists and MPs.

It looks set to be so.

Punggol East By Election - Election Department Under Prime Minister's Office

Just yesterday, MSM had reported good news that LTA had a master plan that by 2030, the rail transportation will be double that of the size today where people from majority of the estates they staying will only take about 10mins walking distance to a MRT station. Good news for PAP incumbent Dr Koh for the Punggol East By Election. Die hard PAP supporters will welcome this news to prove that the party they been supporting all these years had a vision, so far that it reaches 2030.

If the Election Department is an independent entity, then it should set a rule to ban the announcement of any infrastructure developments or programs (National or municipal level) that will be advantageous to any ruling party candidates

These sort of news can only be announced before and after the nomination day or election day. This is to prevent the monopoly of the mass media by a dominant political party such as the PAP with news to pull in more votes.

Punggol East By-Election

Now that the candidates are known, it means Punggol East voters can start their decision process. For those who have decided to vote for an alternative candidate and would prefer to see one win, it is time to eliminate some of the choices. This would be how I would reduce the number of choices without using 1D6 (a six-sided dice).

Fortunately, the independent candidates all failed to get nominated so it saves everyone the trouble. Even if they managed to succeed, they will still be ruled out because of the requirement for the winning candidate to run the town council. While Mr Chiam See Tong also started off as an independent, he ultimately also founded his own party. In other words, the requirement to run a town council has more less eliminated the possibility of another person repeating Mr Chiam’s feat at Potong Pasir.

So, that leaves the alternative candidates who are members of political parties, and I will then further disregard those from the Singapore Democratic Alliance [SDA] and Reform Party [RP]. 

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For a Better Life 

The next 9 days will be tough work to walk the ground and engage residents from all walks of life.

Be yourself and act natural and emit the true warm not pseudo pretentious acting. KPK as I observed is a facade of his arrogant self when he almost blew up when reporters suggested he brought out his 'pathetic' past to win sympathy votes. We begin to see a 'real' character in KPK.

The voters have a choice of a better life not a life under the despotic PAP..where the lives of citizens are deeply stressed and affected by their draconian policies. Li Lian can assist the residents on many local issues and sincerely will help to solve it.

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What is PAP’s Strategy for the Punggol East By-Elections, Huh?

Actually I don’t understand what PAP is trying to do at this by-elections. 

I mean, yes, when you go into an elections, you want to talk about the personal characteristics of the candidate that you have chosen and how much he or she is similar to the residents in the constituency that he or she is contesting, to up the like-ability and related-ability factor. Well, if that’s the case, then find someone like the residents! Find someone who is down-to-earth and someone who continues to have a decent job earning a median salary like anyone of us, someone who actually takes the LRT and lives in a HDB flat. I mean, it would be so much easier if you find someone like this, than simply try to point out that the person is like this, when the person is not, right?

But it’s interesting because PAP has chosen to bring in a doctor, and one with more than 20 other credentials/appointments, which not many ordinary Singaporeans have. I mean, if he can really be considered an elitist, then why not just talk about his elitist roots? Well, but I forgot, he isn’t running in Bukit Timah or even Marine Parade. Well, then, just talk about what’s real about him and based on what’s real about him and how he can contribute!

Four candidates, two-horse race?

Much is at stake for the four political parties contesting the Punggol East by-election. The stakes are different for each party but matter significantly to each. As such, the next eight days of campaigning will be critical in winning the voters' hearts and minds.

Although it is a four-cornered contest, the race will effectively be a two-horse race. The Workers' Party (WP) and the incumbent People's Action Party (PAP) are the main contenders. The by-election is a battle, a way station for them as they move towards the next General Election (GE), which promises to be the real watershed election.

While both parties have sought to downplay the significance of the by-election, the reality is that much will be read into how they contest, the eventual outcome and what it means for them going forward.

Four-cornered fight for Punggol by-election

The Punggol East by-election, set for January 26, will be a four-cornered fight.

The Returning Officer, Mr Yam Ah Mee, made the announcement at about 12.45pm on Wednesday after no objections were raised in the half hour after the close of nominations at noon.

The contest will be among Dr Koh Poh Koon of the People's Action Party (PAP), Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam of the Reform Party (RP) and Mr Desmond Lim of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), Ms Lee Li Lian of the Workers' Party (WP).


SDP PRESS RELEASE: We had decided to contest the by-election in Punggol East because of the following factors: 
(1) A set of alternative policies that we wanted to present to the voters. 
(2) A candidate who would have a strong chance of defeating the PAP candidate.
(3) A well-organised party machinery to run a highly effective campaign.

However, we have decided to withdraw from the race. Singaporeans have signaled clearly that they do not want to see a three-cornered contest in Punggol East which may dilute the vote and allow a PAP win.

We hear their voices and we have heeded them. In politics, it is equally important to listen as it is to speak. We note the genuine concern that the PAP may get returned if there is a split in the opposition's support between the SDP and WP. For this reason, we are stepping aside. 

Three big cheers for the SDP!

I am glad the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has withdrawn from the Punggol East by-election. I am very sure that it was by no means an easy decision. The party had been walking the ground everyday since it announced its intention to contest. All of its resources were ready and its manpower was fully galvanized.

The SDP chose to withdraw because it heeded the voices of the people. That is a sign of true humility. The SDP has portrayed itself as a party that is willing to listen to the people, able to change at a moment’s notice in response to what the people want. What can be more comforting, what can be more reassuring, than to have a party tell you that your voice matters, that your opinions will not fall on deaf ears, that they will be acted upon if they are fair, just and reasonable?

Growing up in authoritarian Singapore and feeling that no one cares about you and your thoughts and feelings, that one statement by SDP touched me today.

A Very Noble Selfless Act

Very rarely one comes across a very noble selfless Act as displayed by Dr. Chee Soon Juan when he decided at the eleventh hour to withdraw the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) from the Punggol East by-election in the higher interest of opposition unity. The SDP had made elaborate preparations for the by-election including walkabouts, resident visits and the making of election posters which all showed that it was determined to enter the fray. It was a very great sacrifice on the SDP part to withdraw at the last moment which took many people, including PAP leaders, by surprise.

Dr. Chee is not known to be a vacillating person in his political pursuit but the overwhelming criticisms, especially by netizens, of his principal role in breaking the unity of opposition parties in the Punggol East by-election could have had a salutary effect on his conscience. He himself admitted that SDP had heard the voices of Singaporeans who did not want more than one opposition party taking on the ruling People's Action Party so as not to split the opposition votes. Ironically, that message did not reach the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) and the Reform Party (RP).

 The Chinese have a saying on Dr. Chee's noble act: Superlative care of the great scheme (public affairs), sacrifice a small "me" and accomplish a big "me" (顧全大局,犧牲小我,成全大我)。By his magnanimous act, he will endear himself to Singaporeans in GE 2016, especially those who have never been comfortable with his so-called volatile character. Dr. Chee Soon Juan and his DDP will now be regarded with more respect by other opposition parties and even the PAP.

SDP finally listens to the call of maturity! 

When Vincent Wijeysingha posted “A test of maturity in the coming by-election”#1 early this month, he seemed to suggest this is a test of political maturity of Punggol East voters.

However, the word ‘maturity’ should apply to both voters and political parties. These are pre-conditions for a matured democratic Singapore and perhaps, it will bring us a step closer to the First World Parliament.

We cannot expect maturity for voters and immaturity for political parties. Political parties, especially oppositions, have to realise they have no right to remain immature. Do not test the intelligence of the voters.  They are surprisingly more mature and intelligence than politicians. The many visits SDP made in Punggol East, especially, yesterday after the announcement of WP candidate, SDP should have a feeling of the ground.

Come together, right now

I echo the words of many by saying “Well done!” to Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and Dr Chee Soon Juan.

I have great hopes for SDP in future elections, but as clear to all, the Punggol East by-election is simply not their time. Frankly, I was really worried that they will lose it (not the election, but their mind) again, which was why I urged Workers’ Party (WP) to quickly announce their candidate in my previous post to show SDP that WP won’t entertain any nonsense from them.

It doesn’t matter if this was SDP’s intention all along and if the past week was just one big show, this is a move that will win back a lot of credit with the people after the ridicule they had attracted. Neither does it matter if they are only pulling out because they knew they couldn’t win. Dr Chee is at least keeping to his word about the importance of opposition unity.

Pullout won't hurt credibility: Chee

Was the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) genuine in its intention to contest the Punggol East by-election?

If its reason for pulling out of the race was to not dilute the Opposition vote, why not step aside last Saturday after the Workers' Party (WP) rebuffed its overtures to field a joint candidate?

Would the pullout from the race hurt the SDP's credibility?

The feel of Punggol East electoral grounds

My impression was that about a fifth of the households that I had met did not want to talk about politics or express any political views. Some of them were guarded to express any political views, while others felt that talking was moot, as no improvements could come out of it.

It is interesting to note the more than 1,600 voters are disqualified by the Elections Department because they did not vote at the General Elections and Presidential Election 2011, but did not get their names restored in time.

Results of the survey conducted

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"Our understanding is the campaign activities as defined by the legislation as well as the handbook issued to candidates by the Elections Department says that these campaign activities should only commence after nomination has closed. So we are very mindful of this and whatever we do, we would want to make sure we are complaint with these regulations regardless of what others are doing."

Sylvia Lim, in response to a question on why WP has not started hitting the ground in Punggol East.

So Koh Poh Koon is indeed violating the Parliamentary Elections Regulations...?

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Punggol East By-Election: The Other Side of the Equation

So much has been said about the impending Punggol East SMC by-election – while most concede that PAP is likely to win in a multi-cornered fight, opinions are split on whether the decision of opposition parties other than the Workers’ Party (WP) to run in the election is justified or not (see for instance this and this).

In contrast to the multitudinous write-ups focusing on the opposition parties, few analyses center on the electorate of the Punggol East SMC. The first to do so is our dear Straits Times, which, in its eagerness to ass-kiss the PAP, has landed itself in hot soup by publishing a report with the headline “ST poll: More rooting for PAP” and breaching the Parliamentary Elections Act (see 78C).

ST editor Warren Fernandez then tried to wriggle his way out of the mess by claiming that the ST poll is neither “full-scale” nor “scientific.” Good try Warren. But hey, the methodology of the poll is beside the question. As long as the survey asks about voter preference as the ST poll clearly did, it is an “election survey” as defined in the Elections Act. Calling it a “straw poll” will not absolve ST of its blame.

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Punggol East SMC By-Election Outcome – a speculation

Firstly, Punggol SMC is not Punggol per se. A large part of where its 33,000 voters reside is in Pasir Ris. This was carved out to tilt the balance towards the PAP, otherwise the influence of Cheng San would have made the PAP shiver and prepare for more losses than it had actually suffered in GE2011. Michael Palmer was then offered in a sort of trade off. By winning the SMC for the PAP, he was later appointed Speaker of Parliament.

To cut a long story short, the result at GE 2011 came as no surprise because traditionally, Punggol voters who voted against the PAP numbered around 40%. Even the SDP had garnered just as many votes when it stood there in the 1988. We keep in mind that in GE 2011, if the PAP had not added a part of Pasir Ris to it, we won’t be looking at having to go for another round of contest because Punggol would definitely be already in the hands of the Workers Party. But because of the gerry meandering effect, we have gotten for ourselves a perverted and wayward MP who had to resign in disgrace and leaving voters to suffer the consequences of his misdemeanor.

How then will the result be derived at on January 26th? 

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Will we see a kind and generous elder brother step in to salvage Punggol East?

Will Punggol East turn out to be a multi-corner fight? At this moment, it looks like it but it doesn't have to end up being so.

The situation can be salvaged if WP wants to win by turning it into a one-to-one fight with the PAP. It is unrealistic to expect the other opposition parties to pull out on their own at this stage without losing credibility for the next round. There must be something on the table for them to walk away with. What they want most, after first and foremost seeing the PAP defeated, is to showcase their policies and their people, and run in their party machinery.

If WP is serious about winning and believes that the other opposition parties will chip away their margin of victory, then it has the option of reaching out to them, requesting them to step aside from contesting but promising them a place on the campaign stage to articulate their policy proposals and a serious discussion to demarcate territories in the 2016 GE to avoid 3-corner fights. I think most reasonable people would agree that this is the way a kind and generous elder brother would act.

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Five parties collect certificates at ELD

Five political parties  have turned up at the Elections Department on Tuesday to collect political donation certifications, setting the stage for a five-cornered fight at Punggol East.

Workers’ Party (WP) MP Png Eng Huat was spotted this morning collecting a certificate for the party’s candidate Lee Li Lian, who contested in Punggol East in the 2011 general election.

The certificates are a  prerequisite for standing in an election. 

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Punggol by-election: Repeat of presidential election scenario?

If the Punggol East by-election shapes up to be a three- or four-cornered fight, there could be a sense of deja vu over the results.

The outcome could be a repeat of the closely fought presidential election in 2011, analysts are predicting. In that four-horse race, People's Action Party-backed candidate Tony Tan Keng Yam won just 35.2 per cent of the votes, an edge of just 0.35 percentage points over the runner-up.

Based on that result, some observers believe that is the base share of votes the PAP will get in an election that could feature some similarities.

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Punggol East, a case of wild ambition and rash men 

The by election in Punggol East was meant to be a serious and well considered affair. The residents will have to decide to elect a representative to parliament. There was a certain understanding based on past practices and agreements of the opposition camp that it would be a WP contest against the PAP. Everyone has that kind of expectation. What has happened is something that is shocking beyond belief, that it is like a mad movie from some third world country, with every bum thinking that it is party time, and everyone wants to be invited.

We would expect the potential candidates, those aspiring to be national leaders, to be calm, cool and calculative, men of depth, of wisdom, to think about this matter seriously before they make any move or statement to contest the election.

Other than SPP and NSP, two parties that are looking sensible and looking more sensible than before when other parties are looking not only foolish but moronic. We have heard of the two bizarre proposals by SDP and Reform Party to WP that they want a piece of the cake, with heads I win tail you lose terms. And they seriously believed that it is a fair and good deal.

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Punggol East by-election: Strengths, weaknesses and future of PAP and WP

Singaporeans are still ravishing in the fact that they can soon  flock to packed charged-up stadiums again  to hear their favourite political parties pump them up during  the forthcoming Punggol East by-election on 26 January.

Many have already voted twice  within a 18-month period – some for the first time even though they are in their thirties and residents staying in Hougang and Punggol East would have the  special priviledge of voting thrice within a short two-year period.

I have listed the strengths, weaknesses and future of the two dominant  parties eyeing Punggol East SMC.

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Some thoughts to share regarding the By-Election at Punggol East SMC

In less than a month after Michael Palmer resigned as the MP for Punggol East SMC, the PM Lee Hsien Loong decided to call for a by-election in the constituency. Many things have happened since then, provoking much discussion on issues surrounding this by-election on both online and offline platforms.

Reading through those discussions, some of which I have participated in as well, I noticed a few common themes. I have also picked up on a few common attitudes and perceptions which make me feel that a greater political awakening is necessary in our society, despite the fact that people are now more comfortable in sharing their political opinions nowadays.

Alright anyway, here are three points I would like to bring up:
1. The “We came first” mentality needs to end
2. A three-cornered or multiple-cornered fight ensures victory for the PAP
3. Regarding “opposition unity”

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No More 'Choping' of House Seats

From the beginning of our fledgling democracy, there has always been a tacit agreement between opposition parties to avoid 3 cornered fights. The logic being simple, there is a fixed pie of votes for both the opposition and ruling parties, plus a crucial percentage of 'swing voters'.

Having such contests would result in the opposition votes (usually around 25-35% depending on the seat) being split, and whatever swing votes garnered, even if distributed equally between opposition and PAP, would almost certainly see the latter win, as there pie is always around 35% or higher.

However it's not to say multi-cornered contests cannot end up with an upset. JBJ won in 1981 despite the presence of a 3rd party. And even in non-successful campaigns like the 1992 Marine Parade by-election, the votes of the 2 other parties (besides the SDP) was so negligible, it hardly created a dent.

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Encourage Punggol East voters to differentiate between parties, not just think of PAP-vs-Opp

The newly minted PAP candidate, Dr Koh Poh Koon, who actually became a full-fledged PAP member only a month ago, has thus far only managed to throttle out the regular blend of touchy-feely campaign messages like “This is me, I am me“, or “Choose me because you can connect with me“, or “If residents feel that I am not the best person, please do not give me any sympathy votes“.

As far as Dr Koh Poh Koon is concerned, I don’t think anyone feels there is anything about him to sympathize with. He was parachuted in by the PAP at the last minute and enjoys the solid backing of Teo Chee Hean and Teo Ser Luck in his electoral campaign.

Dr Koh also said: “You must choose to vote for the person who can do the work for you. It’s a fallacy to believe that you can have the best of both worlds – choose a person to make a statement, but hope that the other person who is voted out is going to have all the resources, all the authority to get the work done for you.”

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Inane thots on Punggol East BE

Poor Dr Koh Poh Koon. I won’t give him a drop of sympathy because he came from a poor family. What I do feel for him is why he allows such unflattering photos of himself to be captured? As an eternal sucker for good looking politicians, I really feel sorry for him that he isn’t more photogenic, especially when compared to his chief rival for the Punggol East seat!

One more after thought, no less inane: The biggest potential loser in this upcoming BE is the PAP — if it loses the single seat ward to the WP. Yet could it afford not to take this gamble, if it wishes to maintain the moralistic high ground? But would the moralistic high ground remain tenable if (heaven forbid) 10 PAP were found to have done what Michael Palmer did — have an extramarital affair? Tenable I mean for both PAP and SG

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Dr Koh: If you choose opposition, don’t hope that PAP will get work done for you

Technically, campaigning can only officially start on Nomination Day. However, Dr Koh has already started “walking about”, talking to the residents of Punggol East. He also responded to criticisms that he is trying to gain public sympathy by talking about his growing up in a poor family and being poor in his earlier years.

In one of his poor anecdotes, he said, “I remember when I finally got my HDB flat in 1988, just after I ORD from the army, my wife and I had to borrow money from my uncle to do renovations. You’d be surprised to know that at the end of the thing, before we moved into our house, in the combined accounts of our banks, in the pockets together, we had $11.50.”

“We were scratching our heads thinking how to even have our first meal in the house when we had no money to buy chopsticks? We went down to Toyogo at Lorong 8 Toa Payoh and we had to count the number of pieces of chopsticks we can buy with $11.50 to equip our home.”

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Doc does the rounds with residents

GRASSROOTS leaders and volunteers in Punggol East met the People's Action Party candidate only this week, and their first impression is he could not be more different from their previous MP.

Where Mr Michael Palmer was a charmer with a cheeky sense of humour, colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon gives off a scholarly, more stoic air, they said.

While Mr Palmer, a Eurasian, spoke basic Mandarin but knew no dialects, Dr Koh is fluent in Mandarin, Hokkien and Teochew.

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Not fishing for votes with 'son of Punggol' tag

During a media conference organised last Thursday to formally introduce himself, Dr Koh had said he grew up poor.

His father was a bus driver and he is the eldest of five children raised at a farmhouse in Lorong Cheng Lim, located in Punggol.

"If the residents feel that I'm not the best person, please do not give me any sympathy votes. I do not need sympathy," he stressed.

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Acting Ministers speak in support for Dr Koh Poh Koon

40-year-old Dr Koh Poh Koon is the PAP candidate for the Punggol by-election (photo: Siti Nur Mas Lina,

Acting Ministers Tan Chuan-Jin and Chan Chun Sing spoke on Sunday in support of Dr Koh Poh Koon - the People's Action Party's man for the Punggol East by-election.

Both said they have known Dr Koh for many years and described him as a sincere man who is passionate about making a difference.

Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan Jin said: "Poh Koon is a very good man. He's very sincere very passionate, I think in all the things that he does. So whether as a doctor, and certainly now in his possible capacity as a Member of Parliament, possibly beyond that depending on what plans there are - Poh Koon is someone I trust, someone who I know has the people's needs at heart, and he's someone who cares a lot for society as well.

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“This is me” – A Self Ignorance To Change The PAP 

“This is me” is the campaign message that PAP new man, Dr Koh Poh Koon, wants to bring to Punggol East voters.  He wants to be his “own man” not a “status quo” person. He even emphasizes his past and poor background as a proof.

And he hopes to change the PAP internally rather than externally (joining opposition).  So, he chooses to follow the PAP stream instead of against the PAP stream. Perhaps, it is an easy way in Singapore politics, just like joining National Conversation, one think he can change the government

In the front page story of today’s Lianhe Zaobao, Dr Koh also said it was not an “in” thing to join the PAP.  But, he chose to join the ruling party in hope of an internal change inside the PAP. #1

Workers’ Party picked the right person in Lee Li Lian: pundits

Political observers are not surprised at the decision and believe the party has selected the right person to be its candidate.

Former Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong said, “I always thought that the Workers' Party should go with Li Lian, to maintain continuity with their choice for GE2011 and demonstrate their faith in and commitment to her as a candidate.”

When asked if Giam may have been a better choice considering his experience in Parliament and higher media profile as an NCMP, Siew said Giam may have better exposure in a short-term tactical sense but noted that “his Parliamentary record also opens him up to potential attack, for instance in relation to his performance during the Ministerial salaries debate.”

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SDP members distribute fliers door-to-door in Punggol East 

Members of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) were also out meeting residents and handing out fliers.

They started distributing fliers door-to-door at various blocks in the Punggol East ward on Sunday morning and were still going strong at 8pm.

They told reporters that they began pounding the ground last week and had visited most of the blocks in the ward.

SDP has yet to announce which candidate it plans to field for the upcoming by-election.

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Reform Party's Kenneth Jeyaretnam will contest

On Monday evening, six members of the Reform Party, including Mr Jeyaretnam, handed out flyers to Rivervale residents from Blocks 123A to E and Rivervale Plaza patrons and shop owners.

The flyer contains a write-up on how the party aims to alleviate the income woes of Singaporeans as well as the party's contacts and biographies of Kenneth Jeyaretnam and the party's founder, his late father, JB Jeyaretnam.

It is illegal to campaign before Nomination Day on Jan 16, but when asked if Reform Party had broken any laws, Mr Jeyaretnam said this: "I'd say that's rubbish, both activities we've been carrying on for the past five years."

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SDA fields Desmond Lim as its candidate for by—election

SDA fields Desmond Lim as its candidate for by—election

The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) has chosen Mr Desmond Lim Bak Chuan as its candidate for the Punggol East by—election.

It said in a statement on Tuesday that its campaign slogan for Mr Lim is ’Dedicated Local, Determined Leader’.

It added that Mr Lim is "armed to make a difference and cause potential ripples on the grounds of Punggol East".

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Benjamin Pwee joins DPP leadership as acting secretary—general

Benjamin Pwee joins DPP leadership as acting secretary—general

Opposition politician Benjamin Pwee has joined the leadership of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)as acting secretary—general.

He was co—opted into the Central Executive Committee (CEC) at a closed—door meeting on Sunday, while six other independents were officially accepted as party members and cadres.

The DPP’s secretary—general, Mr Seow Khee Leng, went on leave from the party from Sunday and handed over the leadership reins to Mr Pwee.

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continued from: Punggol East by-election