After the writ of by-election for Hougang was issued on Wednesday, I called the Elections Department to clarify certain details about form submission. The Department official answered my call, half in jest: “Hi Ms Lim. I thought I would be hearing your voice again only 4 years later”.
We are now in that period between the writ and nomination, when documentation must be scrupulously checked to ensure the nomination goes through. All hands are also on deck to prepare for the campaign, in terms of logistics, manpower and messaging. The Workers’ Party machinery is cranking, and there is a certain beauty and rhythm, refined over the decades.
Png Eng Huat is our candidate. People have started to give testimonials about him and the work he has done in Hougang and Kaki Bukit (Aljunied). Allow me to share something more personal. I have known him for about 6 years, and we are fans of similar genres of music, a la the Beatles and the great lyricists of the 1970s. We decided in 2010 to start the first ever WP Christmas choir for the Hougang Children’s Christmas Party. He spent hours transcribing guitar chords and showing me the fingering for shortcuts of the difficult chords (e.g. C#m), so that we could cobble together a good show for the children and families.
What’s so special about Hougang? In summary, Hougang residents have shown that they will defend democracy in their own backyard, even if it costs them.
About 15 years ago, long before I joined WP, I had a secretary who was an Hougang resident. I asked her how it felt to have transport routes to the area being cut after WP was elected. She told me something which I remember vividly to this day: “Never mind – if we have no train, we will take bus! If we have no bus, we can walk!” Such is the resolve of her and thousands of her neighbours, who have withstood decades of discrimination to vote for WP and Mr Low Thia Khiang, election after election.
Does Hougang matter? You bet it does.