Bukit Batok by-election to be held on May 7

Bukit Batok by-election to be held on May 7

President Tony Tan Keng Yam has issued the writ of election for the Bukit Batok by-election, which was called after Member of Parliament David Ong resigned over an alleged extramarital affair.

SINGAPORE: The Bukit Batok by-election will be held on May 7, after President Tony Tan Keng Yam issued the writ of election onWednesday (Apr 20).

Nomination day will be on Apr 27 and the nomination centre will be Keming Primary School.

The Bukit Batok single seat was vacated when People’s Action Party (PAP) representative David Ong resigned last month, citing a "personal indiscretion". He later sent residents a letter of apology.

bukit batok by-election timeline

Mr Ong won the seat in the September 2015 general election with 73.02 per cent of the valid vote, while Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Sadasivam Veriyah and independent candidate Samir Salim Neji had 26.38 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively. There were 27,077 electors in the constituency at the time, according to the Elections Department (ELD).

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Dr Chee Soon Juan has said he will contest the by-election, while the ruling party has put forward lawyer Murali Pillai as its candidate.

In a Facebook post, Dr Chee said he is looking forward to contesting. “We've got a mountain to climb and we will climb it," he added. Meanwhile, Mr Murali told reporters that he and his team are ready for the campaign. He said his exact plans for Bukit Batok will be announced before Nomination Day on Apr 27.

Independent candidate for Bukit Batok SMC in the 2015 General Election Samir Salim Neji confirmed to Channel NewsAsia that he would not be running in the by-election.

CHALLENGING TO CONTEST AN SMC: POLITICAL OBSERVER

Both Mr Murali and Dr Chee are not new elections, but according to political observer Eugene Tan, contesting in a single-member ward poses quite a different challenge.

"Voters would like to identify with a candidate rather than a team," said Associate Professor Eugene Tan from the Singapore Management University's School of Law. "Ultimately, they want to know who is going to speak up for them, who they can turn to if they require help, and how will their interests be represented. So I think in that sense, the qualities that the candidate brings to the table becomes a lot more important - how well they engage with the voters, how well they connect with each voter matters tremendously. Because you wouldn't have any consideration of balancing the inadequacies of one candidate with his other team members, as they would in a GRC (Group Representation Constituency)."

Assoc Prof Tan also noted that in SMCs, the issue of estate management is especially important to voters, who are likely to consider if the candidates are capable of dealing with municipal matters.

Dr Chee had said he will make town council management a priority.

"Certainly, Dr Chee recognises the importance of estate management to voters," said Assoc Prof Tan. "Given that SDP and Dr Chee have very little experience with town council management, I think the effort by Dr Chee to show he has a transition team, a 100-day plan, and he will account for what he has done in 100 days, are attempts to assure voters in Bukit Batok that he has a plan and will get the job done, and they don't have to worry about the issue of estate management. Because he knows he is up against formidable opposition in Mr Murali. Because not only is Mr Murali familiar with the ground - having served for many years as a grassroots leader and branch activist in Bukit Batok - but Bukit Batok is part of Jurong-Clementi Town Council. So in a way, voters have been familiar with service standards and quality that have been provided through a PAP council for many years."

TIME FOR BUKIT BATOK RESIDENTS "TO HAVE THEIR OWN MP"

The Elections Department has said there are now 25,616 voters in Bukit Batok SMC.

Polling Day for the by-election is not a public holiday. Under the law, every employer has to allow every elector in his employ a reasonable period of time for voting.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Facebook on Wednesday that with the Budget "out of the way", the by-election was called to enable residents of Bukit Batok "to have their own MP".

"Partnership between Government and citizens is key to our success. I hope Bukit Batok residents will elect the candidate who will be concerned for their welfare, represent them ably in Parliament, and make Bukit Batok the best home for them," he wrote.

Source: CNA/mz

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