From Choo to Koh to Ong


Desmond Choo, Koh Poh Koon and Ong Ye Kung will soon become backdoor MPs and or ministers when they are put behind the coattails of more popular ministers in safe GRCs.

GRCs are schemes devised by PAP on the pretext of ensuring minority races MPs’ representation in parliament, but in reality it is to to ensure the party’s dominance in parliament. You can see that several unpopular ministers and MOs are bunched together in safe GRCs, otherwise on their own, in SMCs they are sure to be booted out.

Most think that GEs are serious occasions for voters to pick their MPs and ministers to serve them but this not true. It is a great joke to see Dr Chia Shi Lu became an “instant mp” when he was parachuted into the uncontested Tanjong Pagar GRC as a last minute replacement. He did not even shed a bead of sweat to earn himself extra $16 K a month for the past 3 years!

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PAP's Desmond Choo moves out of Hougang
PAP's Desmond Choo

The People's Action Party (PAP) candidate who twice lost in election bids in the Hougang single-member constituency appears unlikely to contest there for a third time.

Mr Desmond Choo, 36, was this week named as the second adviser to grassroots organisations in Tampines East, a ward in Tampines GRC.

Its MP is former national development minister Mah Bow Tan, 66, who stepped down from the Cabinet after the 2011 General Election.

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As the general election draws near, failed PAP candidate Desmond Choo at the Hougang constituency has suddenly been seen making the rounds at the Tampines GRC.

In his Facebook posting last week, Mr Choo made mention of Tampines several times.

"Visited our residents from Blk 260 last night. Very glad to know that many of them were in good festive spirits. Most of them were residents of Tampines for more than 20yrs and their children continued to stay in Tampines after their marriage," he said.
"When asked why, it was simply, "We love Tampines".
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Tearful Desmond Choo tells Hougang voters: I will stand up for you
PAP's Desmond Choo makes a tearful appeal for Hougang voters to give him a chance to serve the ward (Yahoo! Photo/Deborah Choo)

People's Action Party (PAP) candidate Desmond Choo made a tearful appeal on Thursday evening for Hougang voters to give him a chance to forge a new future for them. Speaking in English, Mandarin, Malay and Teochew at the Hougang stadium during the party’s last rally for the Hougang by-election, Choo said that he had continued his work in the single member constituency despite losing in last May's General Election (GE) because "I care and I want to serve you".

As he neared the end of his speech, Choo turned emotional when he promised to take the journey with Hougang residents.

"We can build a future for Hougang together," he urged one last time, as tears rolled down his cheeks.

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It’s still a gentleman’s fight: Choo
Desmond Choo, PAP candidate for Hougang by-election, speaks to reporters Monday afternoon at PAP branch at Hougang block 328. (Yahoo! Singapore/ Christine Choo)

With things between both Hougang by-election candidates heating up, PAP’s Desmond Choo insists the battle for votes remains a gentlemen’s fight.

Over the weekend, both the PAP and Workers’ Party went into overdrive at their respective rallies, taking calibrated potshots at each other.

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Desmond Choo, Ong Ye Kung leave Aljunied, Hougang wards
Mr Desmond Choo and Mr Ong Ye Kung. TODAY file photo

After serving as grassroots advisers in constituencies where they lost during the General Election in 2011, Mr Ong Ye Kung and Mr Desmond Choo are leaving their positions in the opposition-held wards of Aljunied GRC and Hougang.

The People’s Association (PA) announced today (Sept 18) that Mr Choo had been appointed second adviser to Tampines Grassroots Organisations (GROs) for Tampines East.

Mr Ong, who has been volunteering in Sembawang GRC, relinquished his post as adviser for Kaki Bukit in Aljunied. Replacing them are veteran grassroots leaders Goh Chee Koh, 69, and Dr Kee Wei Heong, 64.

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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.

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PAP candidate Koh Poh Koon: I don't need sympathy votes

The colorectal surgeon also rubbished criticism by some that he was trying to milk the story of his humble beginnings at a recent press conference where he was officially introduced as the PAP candidate.

He said it was inevitable that people will think this way but added that it was important for him to share his past so that residents can make an informed choice.

“It’s not about garnering sympathy votes. If residents feel that I am not the best person, please do not give me any sympathy votes. I do not need any sympathy. This is me. I can’t change my past,” said the 40-year-old.

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Son of Punggol doesn’t need your sympathy vote

If taken at face value, Koh’s story of triumph over adversity and making it big as a surgeon despite being a humble ‘kampung’ boy is somewhat admirable, but it’s unlikely that anyone would ‘sympathise’ because that’s all in the past. What matters is you have a HDB flat now, a car each for yourself and your wife, and in the noble and lucrative business of fixing people’s intestines.

Nobody’s going to vote you in out of sympathy even if your daddy kicked you out on the streets to make a living selling fish hooks handcrafted out of discarded paper clips. Moreover, nobody knows for certain if you’re not merely exaggerating your personal history, especially if you’re an unfamiliar face. It’s what you can do for us, NOW, that makes the difference between voting you in vs the more experienced guys in the blue, red and yellow shirts contesting for Punggol East.

A sympathy vote is usually cast when a recent event, usually a misfortune, is witnessed leading up to elections, because people generally tend to forget or ignore what happened to you years before. If your wife left you because of your commitments in ‘pounding the streets’, I may give you a chance because you paid the ultimate price for serving the country. If you said ‘sorry’ for letting the nation down just before polling, I may be swayed by your earnestness. If you severed your arm rescuing a kitten during a walkabout I may vote you in without even thinking. But telling me about how you once had less than $12 in your bank account doesn’t do it for me, because it’s not a sacrifice or a heavy cost that has anything to do with your passion for politics. Still, if all else fails you could resort to CRYING on stage and national TV. This is how you do it:

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Dr Koh won't ride on PAP brand and heavyweights

The snap election called to fill the vacant Punggol East seat will be a genuine and sincere one for PAP candidate, Dr Koh Poh Koon.Instead of relying on the political party's brand, Dr Koh said he will appeal to residents with his character and personality.

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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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Dr Chopstcks

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.”

It’s not known what he ate for his first meal in his new flat, since after spending $11.50 for chopsticks, he had no money left to buy food.

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Inane thoughts

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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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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Koh Poh Koon for Ang Mo Kio GRC?
Speaking to the media in his first visit to the constituency, Dr Koh Poh Koon said he will spend more time on the ground in Ang Mo Kio to see what areas he can contribute in

Spotted among Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s entourage at Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West's annual Tree Planting Day on Saturday (Nov 1) was Dr Koh Poh Koon - candidate for the Punggol East by-election in January 2013.

Dr Koh officially relinquished his post of Chairman of the PAP Punggol East Branch on Saturday. Speaking to the media, he said this was his first visit to the constituency, adding he will spend more time on the ground in Ang Mo Kio to see what areas he can contribute in.

"I came at the invitation of Mr Seng Han Thong, but obviously this is a big GRC so there could be many areas that we could participate and help in,” said Dr Koh. “So I'll serve in whichever area they feel I can contribute."

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PM Lee Hsien Loong was in Ang Mo Kio this morning as part of the annual tree planting day but one interesting observation was that Dr Koh Poh Koon AKA "The Son Of Punggol" was also in the entourage working with residents.

Dr Koh, the losing PAP candidate from the Punggol East by-election in January last year, was seen talking to residents and helping out alongside PM Lee in Ang Mo Kio.

When asked by the media, Dr Koh explained that he had been invited to join in the activities there by Mr Seng Han Thong, another MP from Ang Mo Kio GRC.

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Dr Koh Poh Koon no longer ‘Son of Punggol’?

Many Singaporeans blasted him on social media for what he said, accusing him of being out of touch with the ground. Dr Koh also tried to position himself as a “son of Punggol” during his campaign.

He told a story of a toddler growing up in a Punggol farmhouse. He said he used to play in pig sties and chicken coops, and run to a nearby rubber plantation to pick up rubber seeds and throw them into huge spider webs that grew between the trees. He added that even when he left his birthplace at 3, he would return as a teenager on Saturdays for canoeing at Punggol Point, rounded off by a meal at Choon Seng restaurant there. He said he remembered Choon Seng’s famous chill crab and mee goreng.

He even used his father to show how connected he is to Punggol. He said that his father used to drive bus service 82, which terminated at Punggol Point. “Punggol has always occupied a very special place in my heart and with special memories,” Dr Koh told the media during the campaign. “Coming back to Punggol East is a bit like coming home to me.”

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Dr Koh Poh Koon having fun waving to empty streets and buildings
Hardwarezone Forum, 28 Jan 2013

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PAP’s Ong Ye Kung & Desmond Choo move to GRCs
Dr Kee Wei Heong (standing, in dark shirt) and Mr Ong Ye Kung (standing, in purple shirt). (Photo: CNA)

The People’s Association (PA) announced yesterday (18 Sep) that they have appointed 2 new advisers, Mr Goh Chee Koh and Dr Kee Wei Heong to the WP-held wards of Hougang, and Kaki Bukit in Aljunied GRC.

Mr Goh, Honorary Chairman of Punggol Central Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC), has been appointed adviser to Hougang Grassroots Organisations (GROs) and Dr Kee, the chairman of the Bukit Gombak CCC, has been appointed adviser to the Aljunied GROs for Kaki Bukit.

They replace the 2 PAP candidates who lost in the previous general election in 2011: Mr Ong Ye Kung, who contested in Aljunied GRC, and Mr Desmond Choo, who contested in Hougang SMC. Mr Choo lost in Hougang again in a 2012 by-election.


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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

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.

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Ex-Aljunied GRC PAP candidate Ong Ye Kung explains why he is making the rounds in Sembawang

It has been reported that former Aljunied GRC PAP candidate Ong Ye Kung was spotted in Sembawang on July 5, 2014, making the rounds and doing the whole pre-election shebang of shaking hands, walking the ground and getting to know the people better.

The 44-year-old is currently at Keppel Corporation as the Director of Group Strategy and Development and has maintained a low profile since his electoral defeat in Aljunied GRC in the 2011 General Election. Until now.

Mothership.sg contacted Ong for a Q&A to ask him all the burning questions everyone has on their minds. This is Part 1 of a two-part interview.

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It has been confirmed Ong Ye Kung will be contesting the next election in Sembawang GRC instead of Aljuneid.

Sembawang GRC voters would do well to scrutinise the latest PAP parachutist. Who is Ong Ye Kung

According to Wikipedia, Ong is currently a director at Keppel Corporation, a government linked corporation. He was previously the Dy Sec-Gen of NTUC, SMRT independent director and CEO of WDA. In short, Ong does not have any private sector experience and his career is totally dependent on the PAP government and its flawed policies.

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One of the losing PAP candidates and the current Grassroots advisor in Kaki Bukit, Ong Ye Kung, said that he doesn’t care who his grassroots volunteers support.

Talking to the media at the sidelines of a community event on Sunday, Mr Ong explained that the most important thing for the grassroots is getting the “right” volunteers.

He explained that it doesn’t matter who they support, what is important is finding passionate people with the right spirit of volunteerism

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Why was it not Ong Ye Kung?

When colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon showed up in Punggol East on Monday as the PAP’s prospective candidate in the upcoming by-election, many party activists were taken by surprise.

Dr Koh, who joined the party only three weeks ago, is an unknown to the PAP rank-and-file. Some senior party cadres in Telok Blangah, where he lives and volunteers with the residents’ committee, have never even met him.

He is not a particularly prominent nor active grassroots leader, was not involved in 2011’s General Election, and prior to his entry into politics this week, had next to no ground experience.

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As has been common in the last few general elections, the opposition is once again clamouring about how the Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) system of Singapore is flawed. GRC system is a unique system present in Singapore and has no direct counterpart in other Westminster style democracies like United Kingdom and India.

Some Background Information - GRCs were first introduced in 1988 Singapore in elections. GRCs are super constituencies which are larger than Single Member Constituencies and send 3 or more representatives to the Singapore parliament. In a GRC, political parties must field a team of candidates and the voters only have a choice of choosing the party slate that they prefer and cannot vote for the individual(s) like in a normal constituency. At least one member of each team contesting a GRC must be from a minority community.

Are special provisions for minorities necessary? - GRCs were first introduced as 3 member constituencies to ensure minority representation in the Singapore Parliament. However, I am sceptical about the fundamental assumption that minorities need special provisions for representation. If one takes a good look at the electoral history of Singapore, it is evident that many politicians from the minority communities were elected to political office even in the pre-GRC days. Some prominent examples would be S. Rajaratnam of the People's Action Party (PAP) who was Singapore's first foreign minister and the then Workers' Party candidate Joshua Benjamin Jeyaratnam who won a by-election in 1988 in the chinese majority Anson constituency. If these politicians from the Indian community and Singapore's first Chief Minister David Marshall (who was Jewish) could get elected on their own merit without any special provisions, why are special provisions required now when infact there now exists better racial harmony today. After further amendments to the rules, GRCs can now be either 3, 4, 5 or 6 member constituencies but all require only one minority candidate. Hence, it can be said that the minority community members' representation has now been diluted due to increase in GRC sizes.

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