Bukit Batok by-election: Straight fight between PAP's Murali and SDP's Chee

Bukit Batok by-election: Straight fight between PAP's Murali and SDP's Chee
PAP candidate Mr Murali Pillai (L) and SDP's Chee Soon Juan (R) streaming in to Keming Primary School.
PHOTO: AsiaOne

SINGAPORE - It will be a straight fight in the by-election for the Bukit Batok single-member constituency between the People's Action Party's (PAP) Murali Pillai, 48, and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Chee Soon Juan, 53.

When nominations closed at 12 noon, only Mr Murali and Dr Chee had filed their papers to contest the single seat, despite a number of other potential candidates who also showed up at the nomination centre at Keming Primary School.

Addressing the crowd after the nominations were confirmed, Mr Murali asked voters to "vote for a brighter future". "Together, let's make Bukit Batok a better place," he said.

Dr Chee reiterated that he would be a full-time MP if elected. "I want to make Bukit Batok the envy of Singapore," he added.

On Wednesday (April 27) morning, both candidates met their supporters before walking to the school.

Mr Murali was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as well as MPs from the neighbouring Jurong GRC.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, former PAP chairman Lim Boon Heng and former Aljunied GRC MP Cynthia Phua were also at the nomination centre to show their support.

Meanwhile, the SDP entourage included Dr Chee's wife, Madam Huang Chih Mei, as well as Dr Paul Tambyah, who contested alongside Dr Chee in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC at last year's General Election.

Read also: PAP: SDP's claim Murali's upgrading plans in breach of law 'absurd'

Other potential candidates unsuccessful

A number of other faces were also spotted at the nomination centre. Private car driver Shirwin Eu, 32, was also at the nomination centre, but was later disqualified from standing after he could not find any assentors to support his nomination.

Former SDP member Kwan Yue Keng, 68, also appeared with a spare set of nomination forms, saying that he intended to contest the seat should Dr Chee be disqualified.

However, The Straits Times reported that Mr Kwan's papers were not posted on the nomination board by the time nominations closed.

Mr Kwan, who is currently with the People's Power Party (PPP), had contested in Bukit Batok in 1988 and 1991 against PAP's Dr Ong Chit Chung, when the constituency was last a single seat.

Earlier, PPP's secretary-general Goh Meng Seng said on Facebook that the party would not be standing in the by-election. He explained that the party had prepared a candidate as there had been fears that SDP had breached elections rules.

"Since it seems to us that SDP will get their nomination done without problem, we have stood down our candidate," he wrote.

In a statement, the Elections Department (ELD) clarified that both Mr Eu and Mr Kwan did not file nomination papers after election officials explained to them the requirements and procedure under the law for nomination as an election candidate.

ELD explained that when filing their papers, candidates need to duly fill up the nomination paper and be accompanied by a proposer, seconder and at least four assentors whose names are in the current register of electors for the constituency. Candidates must also pay the election deposit, set at $13,500, before nominations close at 12 noon.

"Nomination proceedings are to ensure that only candidates who meet the legal eligibility and procedural requirements under the law stand for election," ELD added.

The Bukit Batok by-election was triggered by the resignation of incumbent PAP MP David Ong on March 12, after he admitted to a "personal indiscretion". He was alleged to have had an extra-marital affair with a grassroots volunteer.

At last year's General Election, Mr Ong won the seat in a three-cornered fight over SDP candidate Sadasivam Veriyah and independent Samir Salim Neji.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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