President issues Writ of Election for Punggol East, Nomination Day 16th of Jan

The President of Singapore, Tony Tan, has issued a writ of election for Punggol East constituency with Nomination Day being next Wednesday, the16th of January.

If more than one candidate is nominated, Polling Day will take place later this month on the 26th of January.

The Punggol East seat was left vacant after MP Michael Palmer stepped down due to an extra-marital affair last month.

Pasir Ris-Punggol MP, Teo Ser Luck, has been standing in as caretaker MP in recent weeks.

PM Lee said in a statement on Wednesday that he advised the President to call the by-election quickly as it was important that Punggol residents "can have their own MP in Parliament" and because of a "busy national agenda this year".

"The White Paper on Population will soon be debated in Parliament. Budget 2013 is around the corner. The Our Singapore Conversation is translating the views of citizens into programmes to improve our lives," he added.

The single-seat constituency is expected to be hotly contested with as many as five parties -- including the Workers' Party, Singapore Democratic Party, the Singapore Democratic Alliance and even the Reform Party -- expressing interest in contesting the by-election in recent weeks. 

On Tuesday, a surprise candidate, 40-year-old surgeon, Dr Koh Poh Koon, may have emerged as the People's Action Party (PAP) choice, after he was seen accompanying Teo during an Meet-the-People session.

This is the second by-election is as many years, after Hougang also held a by-election last year, which Workers' Party member Png Eng Huat won decisively over PAP candidate Desmond Choo.

But this time around, Punggol East is seen as a stronghold for the PAP, going by the last general election results in May 2011 when Palmer defeated WP candidate, Lee Li Lian, by a convincing 54.5 percent to 41 percent of votes. A third candidate, Singapore Democratic Alliance's Desmond Lim received 4.4 percent of votes.

However, analysts Yahoo! Singapore spoke to last month said that if the contest were to be a straight fight between the WP and PAP, the former could be seen as favourites.

“This is a competitive seat with a three-corner fight last round. A one-on-one contest will make this a potentially winnable seat for the opposition,” said Bridget Welsh, associate professor in Political Science at Singapore Management University (SMU).

Meanwhile, Punngol-East resident Syed Muhammad, 25, welcomed the possibility of a multi-party contest.

"I believe that it is a good idea to let the 5 parties compete as our PM mentioned in his statement he wants us (residents) to vote for the best MP to represent us. By having as many as five parties contest, I believe residents will be able to wisely consider who is best suited for the job," he said.

Another resident, Nadh, a 25-year-old freelance designer, welcomed the timing of the by-election.

"I like how they are acting fast to get a replacement for Palmer. I don't think it's too rushed because residents here just want a fast solution," he said.

Related stories:

WP could be hot favourites: analysts
SDP to contest Punggol East hot-seat?
Top surgeon to be PAP's candidate?
Speaker of Parliament, PAP MP Michael Palmer resigns due to 'improper conduct'

Punggol East residents divided over MP’s resignation