Workers' Party retains Hougang with 62.09% majority

The Workers' Party (WP) has retained the seat of Hougang, with its candidate Png Eng Huat winning 62.09 per cent -- or 13,447 -- of total votes.

His rival from the People's Action Party (PAP), Desmond Choo, won 37.91 per cent -- or 8,210 -- of total eligible votes.

[Slideshow: Polling Night]

Png's winning margin was 5,237 votes. Rejected votes formed 294 or 1.34 per cent of total votes.

Png's victory means he takes over the seat vacated by ex-WP member Yaw Shin Leong, who was expelled from the party after he failed to address allegations of marital infidelity in February.

This by-election was triggered by Yaw's expulsion.

However, Png's winning margin is nearly three percentage points lesser than Yaw's margin of 64.8 per cent against the same PAP candidate last May.

Speaking to the media after the results, Png said, "I thank the voters of Hougang for giving me a mandate. This has been an exciting, tiring and colourful campaign. For those that didn't vote for me, give me a chance to serve you."

Reacting to his loss, Choo said he was determined as ever to continue his work in Hougang.

"Residents have shown faith in our vision of new beginning," he said, referring to his 2 percentage point rise in votes.

"Change has started but it is a long process and we will keep on building the momentum. Results shown that there is a lot more work to do but I want to congratulate Png Eng Huat. He clearly deserves to be Hougang MP and he has worked very hard on the ground," said the 34-year-old deputy director at NTUC.

Voting booths closed at 8pm on Saturday before sealed ballot boxes were delivered to two counting centres at Serangoon Secondary School and Holy Innocents' Primary. Both candidates and their election agents moved between the two centres to oversee the counting.

Counting concluded slightly past 10pm but before the official results were announced, party sources had already leaked that Png was the obvious winner and what mattered more was only the margin of victory.

With no permits for outdoor assembly areas issued for both parties, supporters from Workers' Party gathered at the coffeeshop at Block 322, Hougang Avenue 5. By the time the results were announced, the boisterous crowd had swelled to over 600, many of whom were waving placards in a festival-like atmosphere.

In contrast, the mood at the de-facto PAP assembly area, at the party's branch headquarters at nearby Block 328 was muted and more orderly, although they too took to chanting messages of "Desmond boleh ('can' in Malay)".

Hougang has been a stronghold of WP since 1981. It is an estate, made up of mainly older Singaporeans, many of whom are Teochew.

Over the nine day of hustings, Png's credentials were constantly questioned by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. Despite that, the 50-year-old businessman maintained his conscience over the much-mentioned NCMP issue was clear.

Choo, on the other hand, was content to focus his attention on the heartland voters, going door-to-door in a bid to win over their support.

Png's win means he will join five fellow WP members from Aljunied GRC in Parliament, restoring the party's seats back to six in the 87-seat parliament. He is also set to be made the vice-chairman of the Hougang Town Council, going by an earlier promise by WP chairman Sylvia Lim.

Three NCMPs – Singapore People's Party Lina Chiam, and WP's Gerald Giam and Yee Jenn Jong – add to the opposition voice.