Singapore — Many people have wondered why former Hougang SMC MP Png Eng Huat did not contest the recent General Election. Now there is an explanation from the man himself.
In a recent Channel 8 interview, he said that he stepped down from electoral politics ahead of the elections to make way for early leadership renewal within the Workers’ Party.
Mr Png joined the WP in 2006 and was first fielded in the 2011 General Election as one of the party’s candidates in East Coast GRC. While the WP’s five-member team lost to the People’s Action Party (PAP) team with 45.2 per cent of the vote, he was elected the very next year when he was fielded in the 2012 Hougang by-election.
Mr Png successfully retained his seat in the 2015 General Election. Over the years, he has built up a reputation as a credible and beloved grassroots MP and town councillor.
On June 25, only five days before Nomination Day, WP Secretary-General Pritam Singh said that Mr Png would not be among the party’s candidates for the 2020 elections. He said that although Mr Png and fellow longtime MPs Low Thia Khiang and Chen Show Mao would not contest the election, it did not mean that they were retiring from politics.
In the Channel 8 interview, the 58-year-old Mr Png said Hougang residents had been asking him why he had decided to step down at a relatively young age.
Mr Png explained in Mandarin that he chose to step aside early since his successor would grow older along with him if he delayed his retirement as MP.
He said: “Residents asked why I’m retiring despite being relatively young. I have to explain I’m not retiring and will still be around but making way as MP for someone younger.
“If I wait for another five years, my successor is older by five years as well. We must make a decision as the problem (of succession) will come back again. Hence when the opportunity came with a suitable successor, we must act on it.”
The WP’s candidate in Hougang SMC was 49-year-old Mr Dennis Tan. He won with an impressive 61.19 per cent of the vote against the People’s Action Party’s Mr Lee Hong Chuang, 50.
The WP also retained its Aljunied GRC stronghold and clinched yet another GRC, Sengkang, in the recent elections.