The Online Citizen

Hougang by-election: Nomination Day and Workers' Party Press Conference

May 17
06:02 2012

By Cheong Yaoming ~

Rather than give a chronology of events that happened, which can be found in almost every mainstream media piece, I will attempt to address certain rumours and myths, backed up by events witnessed on the ground and online.

Myth: The Workers' Party supporters are always more fired up.

One charted bus and a mini-van carrying white rolled up flags and middle aged people dressed in white first arrived around 10.30am. The PAP supporters seemed coy about being present.

"Are you here to support the PAP?" I asked one of them.

"No…I just happen to be in the area…"

"But you're carrying a white PAP flag!"

"Is it a PAP flag? I don't think so…"

"Yes I can see part of the blue logo with the red lightning bolt!"

The awkward silence that followed was deafening, so I raised my white flag and headed over to the people dressed in blue. Their numbers grew with each passing minute and the buzz of excitement they generated was growing as well. When a blue lorry carrying wooden placards and bundles of red furled up flags arrived, a huge cheer erupted from the WP supporters.

While waiting for the nominees to be confirmed by the Elections department, the WP supporters sporadically broke out in chants of "Workers' Party! Workers Party!" and even mixing it up with "Ole ole ole ole". Even with a foghorn, the PAP supporters' chants of "Hougang! Desmond Choo!" were often drowned out by the WP supporters

Conclusion: Myth confirmed

Myth: Singaporeans are not easily satisfied.

It was no mean feat trying to upload photos on the TOC Facebook, post live updates of newsworthy events, get quotes and reactions on the ground – all at the same time. I was trying my best to meet the demand for content by our readers. While some of you may have the luxury of sitting in front of a computer, the TOC team, comprising of mostly of unpaid volunteers who just do not have the same resources available compared to the mainstream media, braved the elements and the odds to meet the high expectations of our readers.

Yes the quality of some photos could have been better and mistakes were made while reporting (Hokkein and Teochew do sound quite similar) but deriding the efforts of the TOC team was unfair as we tried our best on the shoestring resources that we had.

Conclusion: Plausible. I was heartened by the advice, encouragement and even offers to help of some TOC readers, we greatly appreciate such readers and will use their positive feedback as a catalyst to improve.

Myth: PAP politicians are automatons bad at interacting with 'mere mortals'.

Despite my initial encounter with that 'may-or-may-not-be' PAP supporter, I soldiered on and was determined to tell the PAP's side of the story as well. As I forged into 'enemy' territory, I did not feel the eyes of hundereds of PAP supporters dressed in white burning holes in me even though I stuck out like a sore thumb dressed in black.

Minister Khaw Boon Wan shook my hand firmly and warmly thanked me for coming down the support the PAP. Even though he mistook me for a PAP supporter I felt there was a change in engagement through his actions. His bodyguards were not overly protective and did not form a protective barricade; instead they were casually trailing behind him.

Conclusion: Myth busted

Myth: The Workers' Party had Dr Poh Lee Guan as their secret back up nominee.

"We were not informed of his intention to contest in advance" said Mr Low to the press gaggle. Just like everyone else, the Workers' Party was caught off guard by Dr Poh's actions when TOC first broke the story yesterday morning.

While conspiracy theories and speculation will continue to be circulated, we will follow up with developments very carefully and not jump to conclusions until facts have been established.

Conclusion: Myth busted

Myth: What is Mr Png Eng Huat's strategy? Does he have one? 

Very focused in defending Hougang with a low key no frills campaign lots of walkabouts, house visits, basically he will cover as much of Hougang as he can within the next 9 days. Rather than dictating which issues were important, Mr Png would be listening to and letting residents bring forward issues which matter to them. 

So is the Hougang by-election local or national?

Mr Png said "I view Hougang as a very important constituency…lots of upgrading were thrown at Hougang to the tune of $100 million but the residents rejected it because they wanted a voice in Parliament. That is special and I don't think you can find it anywhere else."

I then posed the question "What message do you have for residents that are undecided on who to vote for?" He said “Give me a chance to serve you to the best of my ability.” That's a campaign slogan right there.

Conclusion: Myth busted. 

TOC thanks Sebastian Song for allowing us the use of his photos.

Video of Nomination Day for By-election in Hougang (2012) 

This article is published by The Online Citizen, 20 Maxwell Road, #09-17 Maxwell House, Singapore 069113.

  • Merv

    I rarely comment in TOC's site directly, but I'll comment on this:
    "Minister Khaw Boon Wan shook my hand firmly and warmly thanked me for coming down the support the PAP. Even though he mistook me for a PAP supporter I felt there was a change in engagement through his actions. His bodyguards were not overly protective and did not form a protective barricade; instead they were casually trailing behind him."
    I agree that the PAP ministers and supporters are warm in their interactions yesterday (and I heartily welcome it). Even agree that the PAP supporters get enthusiastically mistaken easily anybody walking amongst them to interact with them! (as did I yesterday)
    But I have to say, the "bodyguards" (police personnel, actually), were pretty rude in using force to push people out of their way instead of saying "excuse me" cordially. I was flanking a TOC photographer/reporter and was unaware of Khaw Boon Wan (and perhaps another minister) walking behind me, and yet instead of a polite "excuse me", the police personnel simply used his (or was it a 'her'?) arm to shove me. OK, it was a gentle shove (since I wasn't really in the way), but it was uncalled for (I stumbled forward a little) and showed that there are some police personnel who are still simply stuck in that archaic mentality, primal to say the least. 
    I would have thought that today's police are trained to engage with a service mentality first. If it's true, that particular person has let the good name of our nation's police force down.

    • Mike Zeng

      From my 30 years in the SPF……they are all like that, a bunch of nervous security simpletons. They just follow their SOPs to the letter not the spirit. Robots and automatons.

  • The author’s a WP toady!

    What "conclusions" can it be expected from oppies.
    Mingling with the grounds, my sense of the it was different.
    Most of the WP's supporters were old reitrees and hooligan looking and I learnt that most were from out of HG.
    The PAP crowd was generally better behaved and much more civilized.
    Anyway the internal strifes of the Workers' Party had apparently gotten worse and their reported discrimination against minority races is a national concern.
    Png in his nomination address asked to be the voice of HG in parliament.  We already have a bunch of uninspiring WP's actors in the Chamber who had been spewing puerile proposals and counter-proposals a ludicrous bunch of sheer lunas.
    I am glad for the residents of HG to have this chance for change and a better life and enviroment.

    • Alamak

      Alamak you crazy fellow making this type of statement!

    • Disillusioned

      I was at the nomination centre supporting WP.  Saw a young man in white walking among the WP supporters.  Then suddenly he started to shout "PAP PAP".  The expression on his face was as though he was picking a fight with the WP supporters.  I believe he was there to stir trouble. 
      The WP supporters were generally well behaved, some came from Yio Chu kang, Tampines, and even Perth. 
      I met Mr Low for the first time, mingling among the supporters in the field, humble and down to earth.  On the other hand, i dun see any pap ministers doing the same, they were all hiding under the shade and protected by their body guards. 

  • genocide

    Very pleased with TOC’s undying vigor & efforts on bringing us coverage of the by-election. I must confess that this is presently my preferred local news source, ever since my boycotting state owned press after 2003.

    Please keep up with the good work. I’m sure financing will start pouring in, when your viewership reaches a certain threshold.

  • My Observation

    I see a lot of young people carrying WP flags and chanting “WP WP!”
    Yesterday. PAP supporters are rather subdued and looked as if they have been requested to be there. opposition supporters exhibited the human spirit that I do not find in the PAP supporters.

  • Land of 40% Blind

    @My Observation
    Not subdued….but civilized unlike HOOLIGANS!

    • Robotic

      Not civilized, but robotic aka lacking free will

    • Reasonable Citizen

      @Land of 40% Blind
      Oh yes indeed. 40% are completely blind. Another 20% are utterly stupid as they get simply mesmerized by anything white in colour. Very sad. 

  • siva

    A myth has to a be a positive claim or a statement, your last 'myth' was a question. Doesn't really make sense.

  • Truly Singaporean

    Hougang's constitunets are a Patriotic lot. HG was the third SMC to go to the opposition after Anson and Potong Pasir.
    As a resident in Punggol, I pass through Hougang and PP everyday.
    HDB Estate there  have their unit original featuree like huge green pasture, big open carpark, plentiful of void deck for resident to gather
    Look across to Aljuinied GRC(Paya Lebar) The gov. has over developed and construct alot of unnecessary facilities. Take up open green pasture, carpark lot and remove away lot of turfed area and replace with walkway.
    Those facilities are seldom used. But it generate more problems to resident than benefits.
    What the residents really want is a voice (software) to represent them in parliment . Not the infra-structure(hardware) which they don;t own and in the end have to pay higher  Townn Council Fee for maintenance.

  • skponggol

    Low Thia Khiang, the flip-flopper, before GE2011:
    "I'm against million dollar salary for Ministers!"
    Low Thia Khiang, the filp-flopper, after GE2011:
    "I support million dollar salary for Ministers!"
    Will Png Eng Huat join his WP Seven Dwarfs and flip-flop if ever get elected? 

    • dont anyhow say

      When did he ever said that? Please do some referencing over here with evidence.

      • looes74

        Why Not? Low Thia Khiang is no GOD

  • Primary Schl Student

    he shook my hand therefore they are friendly toward 'mere mortals'. not to mentioned you admitted you were mistaken for their supporter. even a pri schl student can come up with more in depth analysis than you.

  • liu-FU-whats-going-on?

    There is train problem again on the north-south line now. TOC interested to report?

  • Mythbuster since 2006

    There is a Myth in singapore’s workplace.

    I believe it and so do most.

    In the office when asked who we think will win, singaporeans rarely dare say wp although they are supporters.

    There are suoporters who are top mamagement who may support other parties eg. SDP.

    So, as is in our DNA, we resort to SELF PRESERVATION.
    We LIE.

    I think pap definitely will win back HG because i know singalorean aunties like young beefy studs and wives prefer sweet talks. The rest wil choose to protect ricebowl.

    This election marks the end of HG as hq of opposition.

    Mr Singaporean KiaSi

  • Dirty Man in White

    I was told that there are many full-time paid writers working and spinning for those filthy rich people up there.
    How very right.

  • skponggol

    WP is offering another rubber-stamp to the Hougang people.

    • iSINKskpoNNGOL

      and dr khaw is offerrin a $8 b ypass for the resident of houghang mental lunatic asylum with free 8 white elephants

    • asd

      Rubber stamp better than your YES MAN

      • akwmsxjwqg

        Rubber stamp and Yes man are both the same. The only difference is that white shirt yes man is able to get the job done more easily, while blue shirt rubber stamp will get stonewalled.

  • Banglala

    Many paid bangla posting on TOC, supporting P$P.
    Same as Kee Chiu, buses and chicken rice supplied  episodes at their rally.
    HG voters are fed up with Khaw about sending old folks to JB–he should not appear there..Everytime Yaw name is mentioned CHOO WEE KHIANG name is recalled a thosand fold.

  • Hairy Lee

    Wow didn’t noe that so many PAP IBs infiltrate TOC juz to uphold their beloved “master’s” name..

  • Workers’ Party Spatial Inequality

    Its so blatantly racist to deny members of Other Races cadreship adducing common characteristic of disloyalty in them.
    I truly find this insulting and offensive and I am ashamed of the remaining members from the Other Races still supplicating to Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim in Workers' Party.
    It would surprise me if even one voter from the Other Races who have known about the discrimnination levied on Mr. Sajeev in betrayal of his pride, votes for Workers' Party.
    The racist tendency of the WP is also notable in Sylvia Lim and teochew Low Thia Khiang joining force to oust the Indian founder leader, the late JB Jeyaratnam.
    The government has done so much to foster racial and religious harmony in our multi-race and religion soceity and we must defend this ground assiduously and not let the Workers' Party tear us apart for their selfish political gains.  Politics here must not be allowed to be fought in the realm of race and religion.
    Worrying the situation in the Workers' seems that their house is on "fire"! and Low Thia Khiang in a state of denial to save face perhaps.

    • qaz

      @Workers' Party Spatial Inequality
      Don't talk cock here lah…just because you want to buy votes, why don't you give WP supporters free PRC girls also free chicken rice. Try harder little boy.

      • Lala

        Such uncouth behaviour …

  • george

    Dear writer,
    I find your conclusion about Khaw rather illogical.
    Didn't you say he MISTOOK you for a PAP supporter? Did you then revealed who you were?
    How would you expect him to behave towards someone he mistook as a supporter at a political event like that? 
    Myth unconfirmed!

    • Reasonable Citizen

      If Khaw mistook the author as a pap supporter and shook his hands, Khaw actually did the right thing by mistake at least. Remember he is a minister to serve all, NOT JUST PAP.  

  • Pingback: Daily SG: 17 May 2012 « The Singapore Daily


    Myth:  The PAP is no more the self-confident dominant part which sets the national agenda for voters to follow –  "I make no apologies for what I have done, if you dont like it, vote me out – LKY".
    Singaporeans are not apoltical. The message since GE 2011 and PE 2011 is clear. We should have called the shots long time ago but we trusted the PAP. Instead of using that trust to forge a strong nation, it went behind voters' back and did things which lost them the trust  - influx of foreigners, appointing male PR/new citizen types who have never done NS to be MPs,  messing up pubic trsnport. 
    Myth busted.

    • awbow0pdogx

      If what you said is true, ie Singaporeans are not apolitical and that PAP is not doing their job, the logical conclusion is that PAP will have been voted out long ago.

    • Lala

      Every countries has its own policies of foreigners influx. Do the Americans or Aussies kick a big fuss over these issues?

  • damn it

    Train problem again this morning?
    My bus from bedok interchange was 12 bloody mins late.. Pay cut for me again.. Damn it..

  • skponggol

    Will Png Eng Huat follow his fellow WP Seven Dwarfs to talk so big in Election, but talk so small in Parliament?


      and ahTIN do spoke alot in parliament that make leekingyou walkout…..

    • skpedieta

      ^PAP's favorite dalmation mate.^ hahahah

  • Pap forever’s disciple

    Will Singaporeans continue to let the pap fool them?

  • Whitewashed Crimsons

    The purer breed lived up to their colours; the likes of Chia Thye Poh and Lim Chin Siong. They introduced the white clothing, and it was copied. I am sure it takes little intelligence to differentiate between purity and being whitewashed. The people in blue are very decent; save for a few who poked fun were more hyperactive; still their spirit deserves praise. I did not see any Mark Lee type of hooligans. Yes, many look like ordinary Singaporean workers; but that's exactly the point…Workers' Party for the ordinary Singaporeans. Although DAVID MARSHALL was elite, he was the least elitist in attitude. Our minister should have just greeted people, instead of thanking them for their support. 

  • The Embarrassed Supporters

    I have heard countless stories from direct sources about the plight of embarrassed supporters from the ruling party. I will not elaborate but the writer's encounter is what says it all…

  • David

    PAP comes out only once in a blue moon, ya. Like moon that appears every 15th day of the month, I don't get to see them for 25 straight years.

    • Lala

      Every ministers have a job to do you know. Look at their portfolio. Some handled multiple portfolios…

  • KBW

    The $8 heartpass surgery koyok seller ranting for Desmond Choo??Khaw did not add a single hospital throughout his term as minister of health.As minister of MND, resale prices of HDB flats rocketed under his short tenure. He suggested that singaporeans should seek retirement in JB.
    I ask KBW a very simple question. PAP has 60% of the votes, so why do they insist that they want 82 out of the 87 seats??? Do not he think that the 40% need to be represented beyond the 5 seats in Aljunied????? Are the aspirations of the 40% so unimportant to him and can be suppressed? In life, pls seek a healthy balance.HG should go WP convincingly to have a better balance in the people's representation in parliament.

  • KBW To JB

    We must make KBW's wish come true this 2016. His pockets are full of money; thanks to Singapore taxpayers. It is high time he went home to his birth country. As far as I can remember, he did nothing for Singapore, save for letting many TCM practitioners here who charge an arm for their services (more than our doctors here). And yes, no new hospital, sky high property HBD pricers, high medical costs – those were his achievements!

    • Lala

      Didn't you hear what he said? He had plenty of threatening emails to tell him not to bring down housing prices..Try not to shoot people…

  • Mel

    I begged to differ what Cheong Yaoming  has observed and concluded. One should look at the reasons behind for casuing them to react and express such behaviour.
    Have we asked ourselves "why are they "so fired up" and "not easiliy satisfied". Simple reasons; they are trying to reclaim back their RIGHTS and PRIVILEGES of a being Singaporean. They are protecting and preventing more of their RIGHTS and PRIVILEGES from being taken away. Who caused all these? This could be attributted to the huge influx of FT and loose immgration policy. We have to compete for jobs, housing, transportation, primary school admission, University places…the list goes on.  
    Do we have to wait till GE 2016 then they start fixing the problem?? The place is called home is no longer the same…

  • Saran

    DC purports to be his "own" man. Is he Really? He being a unionist never spoke of the plight of low-end-waged workers nor spoke about the ill-conceived n inequitable policy of foreginers seeking jobs which in many ways employers leverage and discriminate cos of the many loopholes and opaqueness of enforcement.
    Each vote to the current ruling party is a tacit acquiescence (and tantamount to rubber-stamping) of their policies. As to whether it is equitable, balanced and enhancing citizens’ lives needs only common sense to know.
    Idiocy is to assume that the current ruling party’s policies only affect certain locations or a certain segment of the populace as it has been propagated by the lame media (MSM). It inevitably reverberates, permeates and percolates all social and economic aspects of one’s daily living.
    Beware the sophistry and hopefully sense prevails at the ballot box.


    awbow0pdogx17 May 2012

    If what you said is true, ie Singaporeans are not apolitical and that PAP is not doing their job, the logical conclusion is that PAP will have been voted out long ago.
    The PAP utilised every means to prolong its stay in power  -  I  don't want go through the well-known details here. Many issues were either dowplayed by a compliant press or simply buried (like the high ministerial salaries).  Before the internet and alternative press, not many people were that much wiser to the prefidy being executed around them. Now they know and now the PAP is in a fast decline. 

    • Lala

      I think WP is going downhill…

  • Ethen Jin-Chew

    Myth is something that people wrongly believe to be true.
    A myth is confirmed when that something which is wrongly believed to be true has turned out, well, wrongly believed to be true.
    BUT, if PAP supporters were often drowned out by the WP supporters, then WP supporters were not in the first place wrongly believed to be always more fired up !  That's to say the believe was right.
    So this myth is despelled, not confirmed.

  • Ethen Jin-Chew

    Sorry, I have to finish what I have to say.
    When we label a statement as a myth, we are already making a statement in the negative !   
    A myth cannot be expressed in the form of a question.

  • YSL is better than Png Eng Huat

    They always promise to be a voice for the ward in parliament…when they get elected they either speak nonsense or are just seat-warmers in the chamber.
    We don't need another dumb MP.

    • looes74

      Like press calculator, salary higher than incumbent one
      Hahaha, people still support open arms legs & the third leg
      Wah hai! They really treat you guys like a bunch of so hais man
      Bravo! Bravo! Now I wanna puke

      • iTIEDloose74TIED

        wah you still support high salaries for mps and ministers who does nothin for the economy/country…
        you zorro limsiasuayed har..kept on pressin calculator buttons

  • Yaw Shiu Long

    Theres nothing wrong supporting parties.
    At least they are passionate.
    The peopld want a voice to represent them as they feel the pap has too much power.