Singapore may see its 15th by-election with the expulsion of Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong from the Workers' Party (WP).
Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang has rebutted statements made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and People's Action Party (PAP) chairman Khaw Boon Wan, who accused his party of “misleading” and “letting down” voters in Hougang single member constituency (SMC).
Speaking at Wednesday evening’s Meet-the-People session at Hougang Avenue 5, where WP chairman Sylvia Lim was "filling in" for former Member of Parliament (MP) Yaw Shin Leong, Low said, "The Workers' Party has not let the people down. Whatever is wrong, we've put it right."
His appearance in his former constituency, where he was MP for 20 years before moving to Aljunied GRC, was greeted celebrity-style, with more-than-50 residents gathered outside the block shaking his hand and cheering.
In response to the positive reception, Low added, “Perhaps the PM should look at the sentiment (on the ground) and not drag too long for the by-election if he has a national agenda and wants to move on.”
“That is my advice," he said, amid loud cheers of "Workers' Party!" and applause from residents gathered in the background.
Watch a video of what Low said at the MPS here:
PM Lee had earlier commented that he “will consider carefully” whether to hold a by-election in Hougang, following news of Yaw’s expulsion by the WP.
Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported that PM Lee also said there is no fixed time within which he must call a by-election, adding that "there are many other issues on the national agenda right now".
Noting that an election – which the country just had less than a year ago – should be taken seriously, Lee added "the Hougang SMC is vacant (now), as a result of what Mr Yaw Shin Leong has done, and the way the WP has handled the matter".
"The WP has let down the voters of Hougang," he said.
Khaw, who is also Singapore’s national development minister, echoed PM Lee’s views, saying, “Voters in Hougang have been misled by WP.”
Also addressing reporters in the wake of Yaw’s dismissal from the party, CNA reported Khaw saying that it was a sad development to learn that an MP’s character was deemed insufficient by his own party.
"The Workers' Party needs to come clean with the people what information have they got about Mr Yaw and in particular, what did they know about him prior to the May election. And if they know, why did they field Mr Yaw. I think it is sad that the voters have been misled by the Workers Party," Khaw said, as quoted by CNA.
Khaw reminded voters to consider a person's character when they go to the polls, adding that there is no difference between a person's personal and professional life once he or she enters politics, according to CNA.
Khaw also addressed concerns arising over Hougang's by-election after Yaw's dismissal, saying that the PAP has never forsaken its supporters and voters and that the ruling party will try their best to win back the Hougang seat.
When asked if Desmond Choo -- who contested against Yaw in last May's general election -- will contest again, Khaw said that the party will take one step at a time, CNA reported.
Reporting By Kai Fong ,Jeanette Tan and Melissa Aw