'A vote for us is a vote for certainty'
After nine days of intensive campaigning for the Bukit Batok by-election, Mr Murali Pillai of People's Action Party (PAP) and Dr Chee Soon Juan of Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) held their last rally yesterday.
Campaigning for the by-election has been an exhilarating experience, said People's Action Party (PAP) candidate Murali Pillai.
He was speaking at the final rally yesterday evening to round up the nine-day campaign, and to share some stories about the residents he met in Bukit Batok.
Mr Murali, a lawyer, said a grandmother had opened the door during one of his house visits, and invited him in.
"I was quite happy, I thought it was an opportunity to explain my manifesto... (but) she... said, 'Can you please help my granddaughter? She asked me a maths question I cannot answer,'" Mr Murali, who managed to help the Primary 1 pupil with her homework, related to peals of laughter from the packed Bukit Gombak Stadium.
On a more serious note, the PAP candidate said by now, most Bukit Batok residents would know of the plans he has for them should he be elected. (See report below.)
He said: "Bukit Batok residents, we humbly ask for a mandate from you to carry on serving you. This is not about myself, it's about you, serving you.
"A vote for us is a vote for certainty, no need to experiment."
PAP members were out in full force to show their support for Mr Murali yesterday evening, with at least 14 MPs present at the rally.
Neighbouring Jurong GRC MPs - Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ms Rahayu Mahzam and Mr Ang Wei Neng - took to the stage to voice their support for the candidate.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam and Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah were spotted in the stands.
One of the speakers, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, started with an apology for putting Bukit Batok residents through the inconvenience of a by-election.
"This is our fault for not doing well enough. But we know where we went wrong and want to do better. That is our promise," Mr Chan said in Mandarin.
He highlighted Mr Murali's continued service to residents of Aljunied GRC even after failing to be voted in at General Election 2015, and compared that to others "who have come here before, made all kinds of promises and never to be seen again until the next election".
He also spent some time rebutting policies that the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Chee Soon Juan spoke about during his campaign.
Mr Chan addressed Dr Chee's proposal for universal healthcare, calling it "a popular thing to say and promise".
"Why didn't we do it? Because we believe in all the policies that we do, with the finite resources that we have, we give to those who need it the most - the poorest among us," he said.
"If we give it to everyone equally, it is the poor who will get less."
DPM Tharman said he was not against the opposition but was troubled after looking "carefully" at SDP's policies.
He said the party was adopting "politics of spreading fear and alarm" and "politics of populism".
He also called Dr Chee's claim that $800 billion had gone missing from the reserves "absolute rubbish", and said the Ministry of Finance had made the analyses of the figures available online.
Addressing Dr Chee's claims that for all of last year, the Government had created only 100 jobs for citizens and permanent residents, DPM Tharman said: "Crazy, have a sense of reality... Even if you just look at e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) and WDA (Workforce Development Agency) alone, we created 17,000 jobs last year... not counting people getting jobs in the marketplace.
"Either you don't know, in which case do the homework. Or you know and you're wilfully spreading fear and alarm."
MR MURALI ON...
BUKIT BATOK TOWN COUNCIL
To make the town council part of the Jurong-Clementi Town Council, so that it can take advantage of economies of scale to ensure that estate maintenance is affordable.
To pilot a community job placement programme for Bukit Batok residents who have lost their jobs. He will tap on his business contacts and community volunteers, including those in the "extended family" of neighbouring Jurong GRC.
ELDERLY AND HEALTHCARE
To partner non-profit organisation The Good Life to start a healthcare co-op in the constituency. Residents can get health screenings and check-ups at their doorsteps through mobile clinics, and the co-op will let its members buy items such as adult diapers and catheters at lower prices.
To partner voluntary welfare organisations, Loving Heart and MCYC Community Services, to implement a "bespoke" youth mentoring programme for disadvantaged children in Bukit Batok.
Younger children can attend classes held to inculcate reading skills, while older children will receive direct mentorship, including advice.