Three issues are top of Desmond Choo’s agenda: Low wages, low income families and education.
Speaking to media on Thursday during his walkabout at Hougang block 1 where he was accompanied by party members, the People’s Action Party candidate for Hougang said, “As a unionist, issues concerning low wage workers continue to be very central to me. That’s what I’ve been working on even in my daily work as the executive secretary of USE (Union of Security Employees). How are we going to bring up better employment terms, making sure that my workers continue to earn a good wage at the same time with good prospects?”
Choo, who is also deputy director of NTUC, said he hopes to play a role in shaping policies that can help close the income gap.
“As a young person, how policies affect families and education is also very central to me so that the students get on a good footing to succeed in life.”
These three issues were similarly raised by opponent Png Eng Huat, the Workers’ Party candidate contesting the single-member constituency.
Choo, while acknowledging that Hougang had been WP’s stronghold, remains undaunted. In last year's GE, Choo lost to WP’s Yaw Shin Leong after garnering just 35.2 per cent (8,065 votes) of the votes, the lowest share of votes by a PAP candidate in the constituency.
“WP’s stronghold is not easy to break, but we will do my best. Every vote matters to us. Hopefully we can touch every resident we help and convince them to vote for us,” he said.
He added that he believes he has made progress after remaining active as a grassroots adviser in the ward for the past year and that residents are “warmer” to him this time round from a year ago.
Nonetheless, his focus remains reaching out to as many residents as possible and offering help.
Will he bring up WP’s recent troubles such as Yaw’s marital indiscreditions during his campaign rallies?
[see video: Race for Hougang by-election heats up]
“Strategy-wise, I think about whether the Hougang residents will be distracted by the [WP’s] internal issues. That’s something that I’m not privy to because I don’t ask them about such issues, more about how we can help them. That has been our focus and that hasn’t changed. So I’ll still be going along pretty much what we’ve planned.”
“We’ll still be hitting the ground very hard. Every vote matters to us, including to people who’re sitting under a tree – I’ll be there to talk to them just to find out how they’re doing.”
Choo reminded voters that the purpose of the by-election is to elect a representative in parliament – one who voices out the issues on behalf of Hougang residents in the long run, one who takes care of them, and one who provides change and gives them a brighter future.
On what he could bring to the table if elected, Choo said he could be bring a “Desmond Choo” perspective, one that comes from understanding the residents’ concerns, needs and expectations.
Choo, who is married with no kids, says he wants to do more for the Hougang residents but in his current role of grassroots advisor is limited in what he can do.
“This by-election is really about selecting a candidate that can best serve the interests of the residents.”