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PAP losing candidate of GE2015 giving out red packets to residents in Hougang

The losing candidate from People's Action Party from GE2015, Lee Hong Chuang, informed the public through his Facebook page that he distributed food rations and red packets to the poor at the Poh Teck Siang temple in Hougang on Tue (5 Feb).

He said he was there to wish them "a prosperous Chinese New Year".

(Photos from Lee Hong Chuang's Facebook page)

In 2015 GE, PAP sent IBM senior IT manager, Lee Hong Chuang, to contest in Hougang SMC against WP candidate Png Eng Huat.

At the time, referring to WP MP Png Eng Huat, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, "We want to tell Hougang voters that their current MP is not serving them as well as he could or should, whether in the town council or in Parliament. Hong Chuang, backed by the PAP, can do much better."

Despite Lee Hong Chuang has been an active PAP grassroots leader in Hougang, Mr Png beat him in the 2015 GE to become the official MP for Hougang.

However, even though Mr Png is the MP for Hougang, he cannot tap onto the resources of People's Association (PA), which is funded by the public, to help the residents of Hougang. PAP's losing candidate Lee Hong Chuang, however, is allowed to. This is because he was installed as the Hougang's grassroots adviser by the PAP government, even though he lost in 2015 GE.

Given the goodie bags given out to the elderlies states Poh Teck Siang temple, it is uncertain whether Mr Lee financed the distribution or simply there for publicity purposes.

Chan: PAP grassroots advisers to guide PA

Last year, Minister Chan Chun Sing explained in Parliament that grassroots advisers are appointed by the government to guide PA grassroots organisations so as to "promote social cohesion and to connect people and government".

PA is meant to support the elected government in implementing its policies and programmes, Chan said. The PA also explains and gathers feedback on government policies so that “we can be a responsive and responsible government” he added.

Hence, grassroots advisers are appointed to guide PA grassroots organisations in carrying out this mission.

CPIB investigates crematorium workers and funeral directors for receiving red packets

Speaking of red packets, last week (1 Feb), the media reported that funeral business and crematorium workers have been questioned by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) for accepting red packets. Some were released on bail after questioning.

NEA, which runs the Mandai Crematorium, accused some of the workers for allegedly accepting red packets from funeral directors during work. "NEA takes a serious view of these allegations and immediately reported the matter to the Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau (CPIB) for their follow-up," said a spokesman.

However, some industry insiders wondered why investigations are happening now, as such practice has been happening for decades, and the funeral directors were merely passing the red packets to workers on behalf of families.

Bereaved families do voluntarily give such packets, as it is seen as an auspicious gesture to “bless” the workers with good luck, funeral directors told the media. Generally, families give sums ranging from $2 to $50.

The funeral directors told reporters that they do not prompt the families to give the red packets, and some of them give without even asking. In addition, funeral directors do not receive any benefits from passing these packets to the crematorium workers, and there is no preferential treatment given to those who do so, they added.

"The whole process of cremation is very systematic. It’s not as though by giving them an 'ang pow', we will get better times (for cremation) or better treatment," said a funeral director.

Many netizens are perplexed why the government is investigating such mundane matters as it was the families' way of appreciating the workers and they're giving out red packets out of goodwill.