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GE2020: PAP’s Murali Pillai responds to Chee’s call for full-time MP, says he will ‘always prioritise’ Bukit Batok residents

SINGAPORE — The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Bukit Batok candidate Murali Pillai on Tuesday (July 7) responded to his opponent’s call for Members of Parliament (MP) to serve full-time, saying that even an MP who works 24 hours is not enough, as he needs to have the support of community leaders to look after residents.

GE2020: PAP’s Murali Pillai responds to Chee’s call for full-time MP, says he will ‘always prioritise’ Bukit Batok residents

PAP’s Murali Pillai talks to a resident during a house visit at Bukit Batok Block 205, July 7, 2020.

SINGAPORE — The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Bukit Batok candidate Murali Pillai on Tuesday (July 7) responded to his opponent’s call for Members of Parliament (MP) to serve full-time, saying that even an MP who works 24 hours is not enough, as he needs to have the support of community leaders to look after residents.

“You need an entire village, you need to have leadership, you need to be able to raise money and you need to get the people. That's what community action plans are about,” he said, noting that he has a track record of service to the residents that is backed by a team of hardworking community leaders.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday at a doorstop interview at Block 205 Bukit Batok Street 21, the lawyer added that he currently spends six days a week in the estate and will always prioritise serving residents if their needs clash with his work or personal life.

Mr Murali, the incumbent Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency (SMC) MP, is contesting against the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan in the July 10 polls.

Mr Murali had beaten Dr Chee in a 2016 by-election, taking 61.2 per cent of the vote.

Dr Chee had previously questioned whether an MP with a full-time job would be able to serve his residents effectively and has reiterated this point on several occasions.

Speaking to members of the media at a separate doorstop on Tuesday morning, Dr Chee again reiterated his point that he hopes MPs “choose to go full time”.

“I’m not saying that the MP has to be perfect, such that in every area there are no problems, but you need to know what is going on in the ward. It cannot be that on the weekdays you are at work and you only come during the weekends to perform your duties. I think that’s not right,” he said.

In his response to a reporter’s query on the issue, Mr Murali said: “I will do whatever is necessary to achieve my mission.

“I said four years ago during the by-election when this issue was raised, that if there is a clash in terms of doing what I need to do for my residents against what I need to do on my personal or job fronts, I will always prioritise residents’ interests and four years later, I've shared with you my programmes.”

Mr Murali cited examples of these programmes, which include a food and grocery voucher scheme which is funded by donations of more than S$20,000 per month he raises, and the Dr Ong Chit Chung Edusave awards which help children from less fortunate backgrounds.

Mr Murali was also asked about cleanliness issues at two blocks in Bukit Batok which Dr Chee said has not been addressed yet. Dr Chee has made several Facebook posts highlighting what he said are safety lapses and delayed upgrading projects in the constituency, alleging that Mr Murali had neglected his duties to Bukit Batok residents.

Mr Murali said that over the last few days, a number of issues have been raised “in relation to town council matters” which he “has had a look at”.

“I've made the point that I don't condone shortcomings. I would look at the issues and see whether it's a systemic issue, or is it something that is particular to the officer in charge, and we take appropriate measures to deal effectively with the issue,” he said.

Mr Murali also spoke about how it is “beneficial” for Bukit Batok residents to have their town council affairs be managed together with Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC) as well as Yuhua SMC if the PAP is re-elected in these areas.

He said it will be useful to “tap the collective wisdom of the elected town councillors”, which will include Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam who helms Jurong GRC and Ms Grace Fu who is the candidate in Yuhua.

“Not only that, we will be able to get a very significant scale of operations, which translates to cost savings and more resources for Bukit Batok residents,” he said, noting that over the seven wards, there are some 85,000 commercial and residential units.

“With that bigger scale, more resources can be deployed… and there will be cost savings as well. So, this is a much more beneficial arrangement, as compared to just managing the 160 blocks in Bukit Batok,” he said.

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Related topics

Bukit Batok SMC Murali Pillai PAP Chee Soon Juan Singapore General Election SGVotes2020

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