Hougang SMC Coming By Election


Whenever I pass by Hougang SMC, I never fail to notice something different from the other parts of Singapore. Yes I’m referring to the twin pillar lightings at the entrance of every car park in Hougang. They are painted to eye catching colours of red and yellow. The obnoxious looking pillars stick out like sore thumbs to some but I associate them to the Workers’ Party.




What about every HDB block in Hougang with lit up numbers also painted in red and yellow? Only in Hougang SMC, you will find such feature, signage or landmark.

I lived in a 4-room NG resale flat in Hougang SMC for slightly more than 10 years from Jan 1998 to Aug 2008. I frequented the nearby wet market cum hawker centre at Blk 11 Hougang Ave 5. Surely I know a thing or two about that nostalgic place.


That hawker centre cum wet market with the surrounding one room rental and four storey three room rental flats together with some of the single storey light industry factories are now gone. ( Blks 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 11A, 12, 13 and 14 ) The entire neighborhood teeming with humanity within Houagang Ave 5, Old Tampines Rd and Hougang Ave 3 boundary was obliterated just like that when HDB suddenly decided to re-develop that area. Is that really so?

Let me recall and capture some of the memories I still have of the small neighborhood comprising the few blocks of flats centering around the vibrant hawker centre.

There were more than three coffee shops at the few blocks of four storey flats. The food was cheap and tasty. I used to take my lunch there for only $2 compared to other places then selling at a minimum of $3 for the same.

Some stalls inside the hawker centre selling porridge with 3 varieties costing $2 also. Mee was available for $1.50! Every 15th and 21st of the lunar month, the fresh flower stall at the wet market did brisk business. Residents from faraway Sengkang and elsewhere came here to shop and eat for the cheap and delicious food.

I remember on every Sun the car park would be full and jammed pack. People were everywhere. Business was good for those HDB shophouses too. MP Low TK could be seen mingling with the crowd there in the market and coffee shops. He too had his breakfast and coffee in the morning joining the residents there.

When it’s about few days before CNY, the whole area came alive with even much more business hive of activities. Most of the workers had already stopped work in anticipation of the coming CNY and they would have started their early celebration by drinking crates of beer and merry making around the coffee shops and hawker centre in the area.

Most would agree that place was the “stronghold or bastion” of WP power base. Almost all would cheer and welcome MP Low TK whenever he made his appearance. If you care to listen closely to the coffee shop talk, it’s staunchly pro WP.

I can vouch for the pro WP sentiment in the area then cuz I used to read my morning papers bought from one of the two mini kiosks near to the market and had my breakfast. I could sense the mood of solid support for WP. It’s in the air. One could almost smell it.

When the then comical SM Goh was tasked to recapture Hougang by PM two GEs ago under Eric Low, he commented that Hougang SMC comprised mostly of blue collar workers after a tour of the hawker centre and market area. He promised “upgrading” of the hawker centre and wet market amongst so many other goodies if the PAP won.

When the residents asked the SM if food prices in the newly upgraded hawker centre and wet market would increase citing the recently upgraded nearby Lor Ah Soo hawker centre and wet market. He comically replied that it couldn’t be avoided. Those residents then told him that in that case it’s better to maintain the status quo. Why upgrade to increase prices? That’s what’s happening all over the island which indirectly led to the rising costs of living for the commoners! That common sense sentiment (but never understood by those elites drawing millions in paycheck) was translated loud and clear in the ballot box.

I’ve also heard frequent comments by residents that they would support WP cuz the MP came to pay respect on their parents’ funeral wake. WP even sent scrolls and banners to the wake. The residents’ loyalty to WP was secured in such a subtle incremental gesture by the incumbent MP. How could I not vote him when he paid his respects at my parent’s altar? Thus, WP’s presence is entrenched.

In the name of redevelopment, the entire neighbourhood has been obliterated by the govt. To be fair to the govt, those flats were indeed very old – more than 35 years old. But in GE 2011, we saw YSL’s share of votes hit nearly 65% gaining much support even though that area which was well known to be WP supporters especially those one room rental flats were removed.

The huge empty piece of land is now cleared for a condominium development. It’s now quiet and deserted with only two remaining surviving blocks ie Blks 6 and 7. The era of cheap delicious food and the kumpung spirit is completely wiped out and gone.

But then, the “obnoxious and eye sore” red & yellow trademark twin pillars gracing every HDB car park entrance in Hougang can now be found all over Aljunied GRC from Hougang Ave 1, 2 and 3 to Lor Ah Soo and Bedok Reservoir Rd to Kaki Bukit etc. If you care to go down to Bedok Reservoir Rd wet market cum hawker centre, similar sentiments as in those yester years prevailing in Hougang SMC circa Blk 11 hawkers centre & wet market could also be found here. The Hougang spirit is already replicated all over Aljunied GRC – the midas touch by WP!

The Hippo is a cute and huge herbivorous animal. But it is known to shit in large amount wherever it goes. This is to demarcate his territory by leaving it’s shit to warn off intruders.

Similarly, I used to bring my Jack Russell dog outdoor. I noticed that it would sniff around and then deposit a little of urine all over the place as wide as possible and as far as possible, sometimes more than ten spots then only it would be satisfied and reluctantly agreed to go back. This is an act of territorial demarcation to warn others to keep away.

By planting those eye catching red and yellow twin pillar lightings at every car park entrance in WP area and hopefully to more territory is tantamount to that innate desire like those found in animals to stamp it’s presence. We are basically no difference from those animals in that sense.

Will those red and yellow “twin pillar lightings” spread further come 2016 is anybody’s guess. In the meantime, Hougang seat is now left vacant. WP has to ensure that the seat be returned to them.

Whether the PM under the constitution ‘can or cannot’ withheld a by election at his discretion or ‘when’ to hold it within or without any time frame at his discretion does not matter here since he has already said that by election for Hougang will be held.

Yes to discuss about our assisting laws pertaining to “by election” will be “sub judice” which can lead to jail.

The PM has said that by election will be held but at his discretion of the timing. It could be 1, 2 or 3 years from now! The 4th year is the GE. PM said it will be held but “when” only he and God will know! We don’t know. We can only speculate.

Anyway, we are curious as to how the high court shall interpret the existing laws for by election. It will put to an end once and for all the relevance of any future “by election”, if there is any.

I think PM will at least wait for the two main issues to pass i.e. the COI and Malaysian GE which is expected any time soon. If there are no other issues after these two issues, then he might just suddenly set a date for the by election.

Once the findings of the COI are made public, there will be much debate and discussion on the measures and counter measures of the recommendations. At the same time, we are also worried about the Malaysian GE which will have an impact on our future.

I foresee the time frame to be in the 4th quarter of the year at the most after National Day and his rally speech where major policy considerations are usually announced. If he drags on too long, the cyber noises will get louder! It will cause more collateral damage and voters in Hougang will feel alienated.

Of course from what we read, PM is putting the blame solely on WP for leaving Hougang residents in the lurch. But then if WP did not take that decisive action of sacking YSL, I’m sure there would be more much worst artillery shelling from all quarters.

So the Chinese saying, “官子两个口” is quite true. The character “官” (Govt Official) is written with two “口” (mouth). They can say what they deem right or wrong. They can choose what to say as they deem fit to say depending on the occasion or whether they favour you or otherwise. Akin to roti prata where they can flip flop whichever way they prefer.

My two cents’ worth.

Akan Datang : Hougang By Election.

The Bitter and The Sweet of Hougang By Election.

Redbean on Hougang By Election.

Auntie Lucia on Hougang By Election.

My previous post on Hougang By Election.


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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18 Responses to Hougang SMC Coming By Election

  1. WinkingDoll says:

    My humble 2 cents. The PM drags his feet on Hougang by-election despite having 80 colleagues from his party to support him (i.e. they have to vote according to party line given the party whip) and help him rebut the 5 remaining opposition MPs. For a leader with so much support to be so afraid of the possibility of just 1 more opposition MP in parliament speaks a lot about the courage (or lack thereof) of the leader and/or his faith (or lack thereof) in the quality of his troops (i.e. those whiter-than-white ministers and MPs). PM Lee is just making himself to be a laughing stock once again.

  2. Yes. I do agree with your view. In fact most of the citizens agree with your view. It shows his indecisiveness – definitely not the trait of a great leader. It seems a little petty.

    It’s quite a shame to have a poor auntie cleaner from Hougang to take the matter to the high court against a powerful and rich leader. Surely, it’s a laughing stock to the outsiders. It shld not have happened if ONLY HE HAD DECLARED from the onset that there will be a by election. Then that auntie would just have waited instead of bring it to the high court. Sigh …

  3. auntielucia says:

    PM isn’t indecisive. Haven’t you heard of the saying “they also serve who only stand and wait”? — from John Milton, On His Blindness.

    The fact is people who think it wld be a long time be4 PM calls the by-election would be proven wrong — 😛

    • I hope we are proven wrong. I do want to have a strong decisive leader. I’m sure it will be within this year but there are speculations it could be as early as next month? Let’s hope so.

      Thank you for reminding me of this famous beautiful sonnet written by John Milton. I studied it in school more than 30 yrs ago in my literature class. Oh yes it’s so beautifully written with so much truth – full of religious faith and humility. To read it over and over again could actually bring tears to the eyes. The helplessness of going blind and yet so much more to accomplish all within God’s grace and mercy.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • The Pariah says:

        I luv the Red and Yellow colorations. Improve Visibility and Safety too.
        White is too blinding. Esp when you shine light on White, you can’t see even if you squint. So how to have “transparency in governance”?

      • Expensive Cost says:

        Gintai – Careful what you wish for – Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Greenspan, were strong leaders – the intelligent are indecisive whilst stupid are always so cock sure. Love leaders who have humanistic values and approximately right then cock-sure leaders who get it dead wrong. Life is a muddle – today’s peacock is tomorrow’s feather duster.

  4. singaporelang says:

    i dun think the pillars ugly. it’s quite ok wat

    • OK. Hope there are more ppl outside Alj GRC and Hougang like it. So if more areas come under WP, the twin pillars will grace the entrance of the car parks. Who knows one day the whole Singapore public car parks will have these pillars greeting you before you drive into the car park! It always start from small and then grow bigger and bigger?

  5. dotseng says:

    The cantonese consider a great man to be “tai fong,” it means to be big hearted and having the wisdom to be able to stand back and see the bigger picture. The direct opposite of being petty and small minded. This is the definition of what it means to be a great leader in the Chinese sense. But when all a leader can do is busy himself on how to make a mountain out of a molehill whilst disregarding the urgent need of stewardship to look after a constituency, then it is really only a matter of time before many will begin to ask, does this chap even know why he was elected to the highest post in the land? Does he have the right stuff for the job? Have we made a mistake perhaps? As time goes by, this can only lead to ever increasing levels of confusion and speculation and many will even begin to lose faith in the system. And when this happens there can only be resentment and dissatisfaction and it will fester in earnest. Given enough time, the attitudes of many may even begin to harden and fossilized and that impression will simply be the name and face of the leader. When that happens the leader is no good.

    Being “Tai Fong” is not a matter of choice in politics. You could even say it is the most important characteristic that distinguishes the leader from the follower, as real statecraft FIRST requires serving the people – it should NEVER be confused with winning or losing, or even perpetuating the party political hegemony.

    In the Vietnam war during the 60’s the Americans accomplished just that with their small mindedness and pettiness, despite vanquishing the Vietcong in every battle, they still managed to do the impossible by losing the war when the last shot rented out during the fall of Saigon, so they had to scamper off like a bunch of carpetbaggers on bullet ridden choppers. As they failed to understand to secure lasting victory, it is not enough to win in the battlefield with superior weaponry. If anything it is to win with by consistently forwarding good values that foster trust and belief, that the system works for the benefit of the people, as the highground has always been and will always remain – the hearts and minds. The rest is are mere illusions that the big hearted man has very little time for. This is what it means to be “Tai Fong.”

    This is not wise. Not wise, at all Gintai.

    Darkness 2012

  6. Hi Darkness 2012,

    Pls read Redbean. It’s well written even though he’s referring to another guy.

    Yes how I wish that we had a leader who has got qualities imbued in the like of Dr Goh KS, Raja, Devan, David Marshall, Hon SS, Dr Toh etc etc. a leader need not be brilliant. Most importantly real empathy and genuine concern for that man on the street. Sadly we do not have leaders as you rightly put it “大方” Tai Fong.

    One of the great attributes of a leader is to rise above pettiness and display great benevolence. To belittle and humiliate elected MPs of the citizens will surely not go down well with the larger population. To employ state tools such as the PA which is funded by taxpayers’ money to inflict misery and obstacles on the opposition will surely be counter productive. It’s a sign and symptom of the decay and rot within. It’s a sad truth we are slowly witnessing. More will follow as it gets desparate to cling on to evaporating power as its addicted to the sweetness of power.

    Thank you for your valuable insight.

  7. dotseng says:

    Thank you very much Gintai. I read Chua Ching Leng’s blog regularly. Yes, what he posted is a very accurate depiction of how most people these days regard the PAP. Once trust gives way to skepticism and askance, it is usually very hard to cement back the relationship. History is a great teacher and this is a tale that is as old as the hills, the powerful, it seems never ever learn from the error of their ways, so history must repeat itself again like the recounting of a very sad poem.

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Thank you once again my friend.

    Darkness 2012

    • Darkness 2012 my dear fren,

      I must thank you for reminding me about this tragic poem. This poem quoted by you vividly reminds me of Chinua Achebe. The most famous living African writer who wrote “Things Fall Apart!” This piece of poem quoted by you graces the front page of that book. Incidentally, that poem written by William B Yeats is also the inspiration for writing that book securing him an exalted place in African literature. I was in Sec 2 reading this fascinating novel as my literature textbook. That was more than 30 yrs ago.

      My appreciation to you for bringing up this poem which I almost forgotten revives back many past memories of those bygone years where dedicated teachers taught with chalk & blackboard accompanied with a rotan! My teacher was the wife of the late neurosurgeon Dr Gopal Baratham also an accomplished writer.

      Distrust, askance, skeptical, cynicism etc are corrosive malaises that fester and breed subconsciously in the psyche of the popular mind with not much apparent symptoms under they reach breaking point resulting all hell broke loose! Arab Spring is a recent example of this phenomenon.

      As a favourite student of Indian, Chinese and South east Asian history from ancient to the modern – I can’t agree more with you with regards to what you stated – history will only repeat itself. They never seem to learn from history. Maybe he studied Mathematics without any inkling of a sense of history. Our corridors of power are populated with geniuses from MINDEF and civil service schooled in the hard sciences and what not. Few of our scholars come from the humanities. There was a recent talk of setting up a Liberal Arts college viz a viz Yale-NUS Liberal Arts College http://www.tremeritus.com/2012/03/17/how-yales-singapore-venture-imperils-liberal-education/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter but with no conclusive results. Usually great leaders do not come from the professional disciplines. An engineer, doctor, accountant, architect do not usually excel as an all time consummate statesman. Those technocrats usually do not excel after a certain height of plateau and auto pilot just sets in. If you look at the great British empire and all the Governor Generals in British India, it’s those schooled in the old liberal arts of humanities that throw out exceptionally unique leaders.

      Except maybe for GY, I do not see any of that mould. That is one reason why they make gaffe after blunder publicly taking turns one after another to reach such epic embarrassment. “Misunderstood” and “misquoted” follow suit to salvage and repair whatever damage done. That is the current trend of happenings. Expect more gaffes and blunders to come.

      It’s my privilege to be addressed as a fren by you. Pray do cont’d with your ways of the farmer’s series which I’m already addicted to. It will be wicked and cruel of you if you just stop churning out your farmer’s wisdom.

      Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Be considerate to Hougang residents says:

    If I were the PM, I will not wait until the High Court decides. Why put the judge in a spot? If the judge is going to decide contrary to what the four prominent legal academics have opined (among whom one ex NMP and at least three constitutional law professors and probably two of the best in Singapore), the decision, rightly or wrongly, will not impress many Singaporeans and if that happens, it will also not have a favourable effect on the PM and PAP. The PM can forget about trying to say with any credibility that “see, the court agrees with me”. He will look even lamer if he or his PAP colleagues try to say that.

    Even if the judge decides that the PM is right, it will not make the PM looks good when the Hougang voters finally gets to vote. Delay will only make the Hougang people think that the PAP does not care about the people needing to have an MP. PM says it is WP’s fault for causing this. If he is right, he should hold a BE asap. By delaying the election, so what if it is WP’s fault, as PAP doesn’t care enough about the residents to want the residents have a new MP soon.

    I say that the PM should be decisive and decide on the BE to take place within the next 2 mths. After that leave it to voters.

    The COI will not help the PM. The Malaysian GE will also not help the PM. In fact they may make his cause even worse. The economic development in the months or year to come will also not help the PM.

    Many people are already criticizing the PM for his delay in deciding on the BE. People have said variously that he is indecisive, he is afraid of losing, that the BE is a small issue compared to the governing Singapore and that he should not treat it as a big deal requiring him to deal with national issues first. National issues will always be there. Hougang is a only a SMC. By-elections are commonplace in the world. I don’t hear other governments like the Malaysian government for example complaining about holding by elections. It is no big deal if dealt with quickly and uncontroversially. If PAP government prides itself as a good and capable government, it should not grumble about having a by election. Surely it regards itself as superior to its Malaysian counterpart.

    So honestly, PM’s and PAP’s behaviour really stumps me. PAP will not help its cause by sitting on the election or being hesitant to hold the election. Get on with it please.

    • Hougang resident,
      Thks for your comments. It is precisely that there was much criticism of PM’s procrastination that eventually led him to announce a BE with the date to be decided later. Thus, it’s now confirmed that there will BE.

      You are right to say that BEs happen everywhere. Even in Msia they were having it one after another becoming so common.

      I must say that this HG BE is going to be very diff from the rest. It’s going to be the most watched and hotly contested BE. A year after the GE provides ammunition for both sides to fire. All eyes will be here. As such, it’s fair that the MIWs need to plan and strategie it carefully. They may lose but not without putting in a hard fight. It’s their wish to see an increase in vote share if it loses.

      Whatever it is one thing for sure is that it is going to be the mother of all BE even though it’s only a SMC ward. It will make or break WP’s credibility and brand recognition. Will it entrench WP to be the only opposition party to watch? Is it the fulcrum to capture more seats? That question will be settled in the coming BE.

      Thank you for sharing your views.

  9. patriot says:

    Have to say that me fully concurs with the Prime Minister that it is the Workers Party that caused Hougang Residents to have no Member Of Parliament now. The Workers Party in upholding its’ integrity has sacked its’ Member Elect for Hougang, that is Workers Party own house cleaning and prerogative.
    To lump a By-election for Hougang with WP House Cleaning is a very silly way of looking at the Issue. A By-election anywhere is a total SEPARATE Issue. The need for By-election can happen in any constituency regardless of the Political Party the Representative(s) elected belonged.
    There were two PAP Representatives who passed on while in office and no By-election were held as both were Members in GRCs. If memory serves me right, the reason for NO Election were because other Members in the GRCs were able to cover for them. Though that was the Reason given, not all Singaporeans find it reasonable, in fact many felt that By-elections were due and should have taken place.

    Workers Party have no say and had not even requested or demand for a By-election in Hougang, it is up to the conscience of the Authority.

    For Hougang SMC, many Law Professionals and Academics have elaborated and All had expressed the need for a By-election as soon as possible. The PM had also said there will be a By-election, however, as Gintai had put it, there is PROCRASTINATION and many believe there is NO good reason for it..

    The Constituents in Hougang want an elected Member Of Parliament like ALL other constituencies, it is their Right to have one and the Government headed by the PM and President of Sin should ensure that they have one of their(constituents) choice to represent them. And the ONE they want can be from any Party, even Independent Candidate or from PAP. There appears no apparent reason for any delay in having a By-election in Hougang. Not oni the Constituents in Hougang want it, most Singaporeans are eagerly hoping that their Hougang Fellow Countrymen will get it as soon as possible.


  10. Hi Patriot,
    It’s such a long time since you last posted your comment here. Hope you are well and good. Pls take care of your health.

    Yes. You summed it very well your comments are very balance and objective. I do agree with most of your comments. Let’s hope that we can get over this by election and move on. Let’s also hope that this time round WP will not make the same mistake again or they will lose their credibility.

    Thks for dropping by. Cheers.

  11. Gintai says:

    Thks for the comment. Let’s hope for the best.

Comments are closed.