SINGAPORE: Mr Murali Pillai on Thursday (Apr 28) addressed Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan's comments that unlike the People's Action Party (PAP) candidate, he would be a "full-time MP" for Bukit Batok if elected. Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a walkabout, Mr Murali said PAP MPs have been able to serve residents "day in and day out" despite some of them having a day job.
Mr Murali also said that serving residents in the ward requires partnerships with Voluntary Welfare Organisations such as those roped in by the late MP Ong Chit Chung.
Dr Chee had said on Wednesday: "It is not humanly possible to go to work from 9 to 5 and stay back for more meetings and then come back at 7 to 8 and tell everybody that 'I am going to serve you with all my heart'.
"The clear difference here is that every morning when Mr Murali wakes up, his first destination will be his office. When I wake up every morning, my first destination is Bukit Batok. That's the difference."
Mr Murali's response to Dr Chee is reproduced below:
"Many of the partners that we've identified who are still working with Bukit Batok residents are partners who have served us for a number of years. I still recall Dr Ong bringing in Feiyue Family Service Centre, Concern and Care, St Luke's Hospital, and Promiseland. And these are partners brought in by Dr Ong to serve Bukit Batok's needs, and it is this team approach that is needed to address the needs of Bukit Batok.
So if anyone has a notion that a single person working full-time, as an elected representative, would be able to address the needs of our Bukit Batok residents, I'm afraid he may have to reassess the situation. That does not accord with my own experience, having spent 16 years here, under particularly the late Ong Chit Chung, and after he passed away, under the stewardship of the other MPs of Jurong GRC.
Dr Chee has mentioned, I'm told, that it is not humanly possible to have a day job and then attend to the needs of Bukit Batok residents. I'm afraid my experience is different. PAP MPs have been doing this day in and day out. They take care of the residents' needs, as and when it arises - it can even be in the daytime - they will prioritise the residents' needs ahead of their own. They, of course, have MPS, but more than the Meet the People's Sessions, they have regular house visits, regular market visits, they visit the coffeeshops, this is part and parcel of what they do, day in, day out. And this is part and parcel of what I've been doing for a number of years, because I was the branch chairman of the PAP Paya Lebar branch for four years, and this is what I was doing. And in Bukit Batok, after the late Dr Ong Chit Chung passed away in 2008, this was what I was doing - helping to take care of the residents' interests.
There are a number of occasions where meet residents in Bukit Batok where they have more than one job, they have two jobs, occasionally they may even have three jobs. Many of these situations are driven by need and we must help these people where we can, through our social programmes. But if you were to ask them, are you able to cope, would you be able cope with the demands, I don't think you'll get a different answer. They say 'Yes we will do it, we can do it, because we are driven by issues of need, we are driven by being passionate about service.' So these are the kind of responses that you'd get. So I'm driven by the passion to serve our Bukit Batok residents. That is why, I want to today unequivocally say that I would also put Bukit Batok residents' needs above my own. If there is a situation where Bukit Batok residents' needs would compete with my own, I would always put Bukit Batok residents' needs above mine. And this is shaped by my values of putting community above self - this is what my late father, a trade unionist, taught me and I have been abiding by it."