Poh: I was only a quiet spare tyre

He was among the four men issued political-donation certificates on Tuesday, a requirement to be validly nominated as a candidate in the Hougang by-election.

But yesterday morning, Dr Poh Lee Guan, 50, failed to show up to submit his nomination papers by the noon deadline at Serangoon Junior College.

Speaking to reporters at about noon at a nearby coffeeshop in Hougang Avenue 2, Dr Poh explained that he only wanted to be an "unofficial backup" for the Workers' Party (WP).

The WP member said: "I wanted this to be a backup. Something to put inside the boot just in case we needed it... I was supposed to be the spare tyre."

When asked why he did not inform the party of his intentions beforehand, he said: "It was a matter of judgment. I was thinking that it would not affect anybody... It was a quiet affair."

He added that, from the very onset, he intended only to be "the spare" and that the "main show" was Mr Png Eng Huat, 50, who is WP's candidate for the May 26 by-election.

WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang clarified yesterday that the party "had not planned for any backup" and that Mr Png is its "collective" choice.

In a media interview at the void deck of Block 701 in Hougang Avenue 2, he reiterated that Mr Png was the only candidate that the party "supports to be fielded in Hougang".

Mr Low said Dr Poh's intention to run was not made known to any members of WP's Hougang by-election committee, and that he has not contacted him since.

It is Dr Poh's responsibility to explain his decision, he said.

Mr Low said: "As a responsible member of the party, when you want to do something, especially that which concerns election at a critical time, I would expect that, perhaps, you should let us know your plans and what you (Dr Poh) want to do."

Mr Low remained tight-lipped, calling it "hypothetical" as to whether WP intends to reprimand Dr Poh for his actions.

But when a decision is made, it will be done collectively within the WP, and after the by-election, he said. Mr Low also dismissed rumours that there is tension within WP, explaining that "the party has never been split".

He said that the issue over Dr Poh is not uncommon in politics, and that it is more important for WP to stand united.

Mr Low said that he is certain that supporters' confidence has not been shaken, even in the light of recent developments, including the resignation of WP member Sajeev Kamalasanan on Sunday.

"The WP has been in Hougang for 20 years and one individual will not rock the foundation of our supporters' trust in us," said Mr Low in Mandarin.

Photos from Nomination Day
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