2 Bishan-Toa Payoh residents on PAP slate

2 Bishan-Toa Payoh residents on PAP slate
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Two Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC residents could become MPs on their home ground, if the People's Action Party slate is elected in the coming general election.

Both former civil servant Chee Hong Tat, 41, and real estate corporate chief Chong Kee Hiong, 49 - two out of three new faces on the slate - hope their "local expertise" will help them be better MPs.

The third new face is Maybank economist Saktiandi Supaat, 41.

Mr Chong, who lives in a semi-detached house in Bishan East, told reporters yesterday that his regular meals in the neighbourhood have yielded valuable feedback from residents. "Informal chit-chat sessions at the coffee shop are as important as Meet-The-People sessions or formal settings," he said.

He has been shadowing former deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng for more than two years in the Bishan East division. Yesterday, Mr Wong described Mr Chong as a man with "strong values and a heart for the less well-off, having come from a humble family".

Mr Chee, who lives in a Bishan North condominium, expressed his delight at being fielded in his constituency: "I've a fond attachment to this place - this is my home and I would like the opportunity to serve the residents here."

Mr Chee was introduced as a candidate a day after he officially left his post as Second Permanent Secretary for the Trade and Industry Ministry, and will replace two-term MP Hri Kumar Nair on the GRC slate.

The father of four is seen as a potential minister if he is elected, but Mr Chee waved aside talk about his possible future in the Cabinet. His focus for now, he said, is on serving residents, and he wants to see changes such as having more exercise corners for the elderly.

The third new face, Mr Saktiandi, lives in Pasir Ris but has been volunteering in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC for the last three years. He replaces three-term MP Zainudin Nordin on the slate.

"Toa Payoh has a rich history, with many interesting heritage sites," he said. "There are a lot of elderly folk who have been staying here for the longest time, and the people here are close-knit. The ward is not short of the 'gotong royong' spirit."

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo will round up the PAP's five-member slate for the GRC.

Dr Ng said he welcomed the challenge from a joint opposition team of the Singapore People's Party and Democratic Progressive Party.

He said: "Bishan-Toa Payoh residents are very savvy. They have witnessed many elections since this town was built and they are not easily enamoured of, or easily gulled by, platitudes or aspirations.

"They vote from enlightened self-interest and that's indeed how they should. And the party that convinces the voters here that it can best take care of them will win their support."


Chee Hong Tat, 41
Caring, inclusive society his goal

Occupation: Former senior civil servant. His last post was second permanent secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Family: Married to a 41-year-old housewife. They have a son, 15, and three daughters, 12, nine and four.

Education: Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and computer science, and Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of California at Berkeley

Hobbies: Travel, reading and jogging

Why politics?
Going into politics is not an easy decision. I have four young children and my wife and I were concerned about how this will affect our family and the time I have with them.

I eventually managed to persuade my wife to support my decision. I explained that we are at a very critical juncture of our nation's development. And this is a time when we need people who can contribute to step forward.

Why you?
I have useful experience in the civil service and community work. I volunteer with Score (Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprise) where I help inmates, provide training for them and help them look for work after their release from prison.

So there are areas where I can make use of my past experience, both from the civil service and also from my community work, to benefit residents of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

What issues will you focus on?
I would like to see a caring, inclusive, harmonious society because it is the necessary criteria that will hold us together as a country.

Favourite spot in Singapore?
Toa Payoh West Market (in Toa Payoh Lorong 1) because it is very vibrant and has many famous hawker stalls. We have Tian Tian Lai Hokkien Mee, we have Chey Swa Carrot Cake, we have famous handmade Teochew bao... There is also a range of shops nearby: acupuncture, a Chinese medicine hall, clinics. It is a vibrant HDB heartland.


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