Choo: Hougang should stay an SMC

The People's Action Party (PAP) candidate for Hougang, Mr Desmond Choo, yesterday reiterated his support for Hougang to remain a single-member constituency (SMC).

In a Facebook post last Saturday, Mr Choo responded to talk that Hougang may not remain an SMC in the future. "I am for maintaining Hougang as an SMC, no matter the outcome of the by-election," he wrote.

Addressing the speculation again yesterday, Mr Choo, 34, the ward's grassroots adviser, asserted that it was "not something I want to see".

"Hougang is unique. It has its own identity... I'm very much part of Hougang and I want to see it continue to be an SMC," he said.

"There's no reason to believe that it wouldn't be so. As long as I'm here, you can be sure that this is something I want to make sure won't happen."

The union employee was speaking after visiting a market and coffee shop in Hougang Avenue 5.

While introducing him as the PAP's candidate last Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that the Hougang by-election should remain a local contest, as it involves only a single-seat constituency.

But the Workers' Party candidate, businessman Png Eng Huat, 50, said last Saturday that many issues have to do with national policy and require collaboration with government agencies.

Asked for his views on this, Mr Choo said that, while he was "well aware of the national issues", his priority was on the daily problems that residents face.

"We cannot afford to wait for broadscale changes, (where) you air (issues) in Parliament and wait for things to happen."

Small, but concrete and practical steps have to be taken to help the residents, he noted.

For instance, the rising cost of living was an issue that concerned many families in Hougang, especially those with school-going children, Mr Choo said.

That was why he initiated a scheme last year to give transport subsidies to needy students, providing them with about $30 to top up their ez-link cards every three months.

"I cannot (solve all) the cost- of-living problems, but I can make it better. I can make sure the students go to school without worrying that they will burden the family," he said.

joyfang@sph.com.sg



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PAP fields Desmond Choo for Hougang by-election
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