Mr Chong is reported to be the PAP’s likely candidate to contest the Punggol East single-member constituency (SMC), which is currently held by the Workers’ Party MP, Lee Lilian.
Ms Lee had prevailed over the PAP challenger in a by-election in 2013, after the previous incumbent, PAP MP Michael Palmer, stepped down for personal reasons.
Mr Chong’s potential move to Punggol East would, on hindsight, not be a surprise, given how he has been MP of several different constituencies in his political career.
He entered politics in the 1988 general elections, contesting in Sembawang GRC. The PAP won the then 3-men GRC, which was helmed by the current President of Singapore, Tony Tan, and the current Law Minister K Shanmugam.
In the following elections, Mr Chong contested in Eunos GRC, Pasir Ris GRC, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, and Joo Chiat SMC in 2011.
Mr Chong, 62, is the PAP’s longest-serving backbencher.
Ms Lee is 36-years old and is a first-time MP and had won through a by-election.
On a broader note, the inclusion of Mr Chong as its candidate in the SMC would signal a more serious attempt by the PAP to stem the perceived tide of the WP taking over the entire swath in the east. In past SMCs which the PAP had lost, new untested candidates were sent in to present what some saw as token contests.
The WP has indicated that it will be contesting Marine Parade GRC, East Coast GRC, Jalan Besar GRC, Nee Soon GRCand Aljunied GRC; and as for the SMCs, the party has its eyes on Hougang, Punggol East, Fengshan, MacPherson and Sengkang West.
Mr Chong’s candidacy in the Punggol East would thus signal the end of the PAP’s softly-softly approach to seats it has lost – and also signals its willingness to take bigger risks in trying to win back opposition-held constituencies.
Then again, given Mr Chong’s age, even if he won, he would most probably be a one-more-term MP – as indeed he was from the last general election, given that his Joo Chiat SMC has been deleted from the electoral map.
Mr Chong would have contested in six different constituencies in his 27-year political career if he is fielded in Punggol East in the upcoming elections.