Desmond Choo: Better without PAP smear?

27 May

Since this Hougang by-election was only slightly over a year after GE 2011, one would not have expected the results to change much. After all, lives of Hougang residents, their sentiments and allegiances wouldn’t have shifted much after a year.

Initially, I had thought that PAP candidate Desmond Choo would manage to break the 40% barrier (but still lose) with former Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong caught with his pants gathered at his shins  and Desmond being such a darling with the aunties and mainstream media. Not forgetting that WP has been hit with a spate of resignations since the conclusion of GE 2011 and one of their party stalwarts breaking ranks by obtaining a nomination form for the Hougang by-election without party endorsement.

The winner: WP’s Png Eng Huat
Photo credit: The Sketchtimes

But how terribly wrong I was when it was announced that Png Eng Huat had won the Hougang seat by some 62% of the votes. I should have guessed as much since most Hougang voters (similarly) wouldn’t have known much about Yaw back in 2011 and they still gave him a resounding victory…one shouldn’t underestimate the street value of WP and Low Thia Khiang. It also showed that voters were satisfied with how WP dealt with Yaw despite not being able to give voters an explanation of what really transpired behind closed doors.

As the campaign worn on, it did strike me that Desmond improved from his previous outing in 2011 and he was making some connections with the voters. He was very hardworking, played his card right as the underdog and portrayed himself as a man at the humble service of residents, even though sometimes I felt that his delivery during rallies was a wee bit too dramatic for me.

His campaign message was consistent, which is give Hougang a fresh start with the PAP and note that LTK is already in parliament representing Aljunied GRC. But the decision to PAP smear Png with questions of his integrity and honesty perhaps undid the good work done by Desmond. It conveniently provided the WP rhetoric with a rallying cry and focal point. Goliath is trying to do David in and that ain’t plesant.

Don’t get me wrong, in the dark world of cloaks and daggers, smear can swing voters, just that it has to be prime grade wagyu beef smear and not such ineffectual pap smear. Especially in Hougang when voters have been strong WP supporters for 21 years. Or perhaps PAP understood that they were likely to lose so they would just throw in this smear gratis in any case.

But if PAP knew they were going to lose anyhow, they should have used this opportunity to improve PAP public image by fighting a clean fight and allowing Desmond to judge for himself the chances in Hougang. I won’t be surprised if Desmond does win back Hougang one day when perhaps the Opposition have made headway in other constituencies and/or WP fields a poor candidate.

As for Png, he doesn’t seem to stand out intellectually like Pritam or Chen Show Mao, his delivery of speeches is rather poor and his nasal voice with a bad habit of dragging out his second last and last words in a sentence can irritate. He doesn’t focus on specific issues like Yee Jenn Jong and Gerald Giam, and he seems contended to just go along the safe lines of Hougang as the last bastion of democracy – which is rhetorical and just fancy if you ask me. Lastly, I can’t seem to put a pulse on his background with the many companies he has opened and closed and the fact he is semi-retired at an age when most of us are slogging to still provide for our family.

Nevertheless, I wish Png all the best and hope that he indeed fulfills the high expectations of Hougang voters.

Photo credit to Blasphemous

9 Responses to “Desmond Choo: Better without PAP smear?”

  1. Daniel Lee May 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm #


    Maybe Png has multiple sources of income from his multiple small companies thus allowing him to semi-retire early?


  2. WD Lee May 28, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    Tks for your keen observation. I am rather suspect of these opp who don’t have a real job or can’t account for their income…easily cultivated by rival parties. Goh Meng Seng, Sebastian Teo, Yaw Shin Leong, Christopher Neo and etc.

    • May 28, 2012 at 1:37 am #

      Singapore doesn’t need American-style smear politics and personal attacks that distract from policy examination. Your speculation on the personalities is exactly the kind of immature democracy that Singapore can do without. Politicians, including Ministers, are not required to give a breakdown of their income and assets. Very disappointed in your bias against non-PAP persons.

  3. Moe May 28, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    Power sia Lee. I find it quite funny that people actually believe politics is all about being clean and transparent. WP would not call for transparency if it cannot win them votes lor. In Singapore now, only PAP has the ability to cultivate opp moles. The only real opp in Singapore is SDP, NSP and WP are just wayang shows of their cousin in white to ensure that there is some semblance of democracy.

  4. Sally May 28, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Hi Unbranded, I also was just wondering how Desmond do if DPM never smear. Actually, maybe no diff as WP support in HG is really strong? And DPM doesn’t have much of reputation anyway? Totally agree they should have found a better smear like maybe all his companies were swindling money from consumers? That would prob make everyone sit up. Hahaha.

  5. papsmearstain May 28, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    i also think that pap would be close to wp, 40+% of votes if were not for the smear campaign. smears is proof that pap did not change. expect the same in 2016

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  1. Hougang By-Election Result « The Singapore Daily - May 27, 2012

    […] Cherian George: Beyond Hougang: What the By-Election Means for 2016 – Unbranded Bread n Butter: Desmond Choo: Better without PAP smear? – guanyinmiao’s musings: Hougang By-Election: Evaluating Channel NewsAsia’s Performance – […]

  2. Hougang and WP Still Stand Strong « Chemical Generation Singapore - May 28, 2012

    […] Many would be talking about how the Hougang results can be interpreted and why the PAP lost, gained relatively since 2011, how the WP stood its ground despite the odds and Hougang voters […]

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