Bukit Batok by-election: Highlights from parties' final rallies

PHOTO: YouTube screengrabs

People's Action Party rally at Bukit Gombak Stadium

Earlier this evening, PAP candidate Murali Pillai told Bukit Batok that his aim if he won the SMC seat was to help the poor and sandwiched classes, such as children from low-income families.

Mr Murali highlighted 10 programmes currently implemented in Bukit Batok to help residents in these classes, and said that his new plans would be implemented on top of the current initiatives.

He asked voters to vote for him as he said the PAP would deliver its promises and has its "eye on the ball", and ensures it has strong programmes to meet residents' needs.

"A vote for us is a vote for certainty. No need to experiment!" he said before ending his speech.

Describing Mr Murali as a man who keeps his promises, Minister Chan Chun Sing said the party's candidate was consistent in serving residents, particularly in Paya Lebar even after losing the seat in GE2015. In contrast, other parties have made promises and not appeared again after the elections last year, he said.

Regarding Mr Murali's by-election campaign, Mr Chan said he quietly did walk-abouts and refrained from announcing his ground efforts to the media or boast on social media. This is a reflection of Mr Pillai's humility and willingness to serve, he said.

The Secretary-General of NTUC responded to allegations about Singapore's reserves, pointing out that Singapore is one of 11 countries which has triple-A ratings from all three credit agencies.

"Don't anyhow say things just because it is elections season. It is serious business to run a country," he said.

"We are not ideological, we are pragmatic," he added,

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam took the stage last.

He said during his speech that he welcomes a healthy opposition, but is troubled by the SDP's policies which he cited as fear-invoking, divisive and populist.

He said that the SDP's policies would cost $2 billion and asked why this fact wasn't told to the public.

DPM also addressed SDP's reference to France's "extraordinary" healthcare system and says that while it is good, it costs residents about 20 per cent in taxes for healthcare alone - an expensive amount that will not work in Singapore.

This tied in with Mr Chan's point on how PAP's policies may not be agreeable with some but it works because it is pragmatic.

On accusations of PAP being "heartless" and on elderly suicides, the DPM cited different forms of support rolled out for the elderly in the past five years, including the Pioneer generation package, CHAS and MediShield plans.

He also said: "Luckily SDP called us heartless and not the other way round. If PAP were to say that of SDP there will be a big hoo-hah from the public."

Singapore Democratic Party rally at Bukit Batok Industrial Park A

Dr Paul Tambyah spoke again at the rally on Thursday night.

He said more people are now willing to show support for Dr Chee Soon Juan. People used to shun Dr Chee, he said, but last year, many lined up to buy his book and have him autograph their copies.

"Times have changed, when people can see for themselves who he is, what his character is really like, their mind is completely different from seeing the biased view that has been put out over the last 20 years," Dr Tambyah said.

He also said that SDP wants a better Singapore, but that there are "major gaps" in healthcare for ordinary Singaporeans.

The SDP central executive committee member also said that since the passing of opposition politician JB Jeyaretnam, Dr Chee has been the only one who has been fighting for Singaporeans "every step of the way".

When former GE2015 candidate Jaslyn Goh took the stage, she address the character of Dr Chee. In Mandarin, she said that she used to think Dr Chee was a "crazy" man due to media portrayals of him. However, after meeting him, she realised that he was different from the way he had been portrayed.

"He has been arrested for speaking up for you, fellow Singaporeans," she said, adding that Dr Chee could have chosen to live comfortably overseas but chose to stay in Singapore.

Dr Chee later addressed the audience in a mix of Hokkien and Mandarin, and then English.

In Mandarin, he said that while Mr Murali has spent 16 years serving in Bukit Batok, there are many elderly folk who are still suffering.

He said the PAP "takes your votes" and "bullies you".

In English, Dr Chee said that he would save residents' money by running the town council himself instead of using a managing agent.

He said that the crucial difference between him and PAP's Mr Murali is that he would work in the town council on a daily basis, while Mr Murali would "do it by remote control from Shenton Way".

He added that he would be an MP on a full-time basis, and that his top priority is to run the town council effectively.

Dr Chee also brought up social initiatives for Bukit Batok's elderly residents and students that he would implement as MP. He says in the past 6 weeks, he has witnessed some "heartbreaking" lifestyles in Bukit Batok.

He makes five promises to Bukit Batok:

1) Make town council top priority; keep in tip-top condition

2) Ensure upgrading of amenities will continue smoothly

3) No managing agent will be engaged

4) Social programmes to uplift lives of residents

5) Will be a full-time MP

He also says he will push for a retrenchment insurance law to protect retrenched workers.

He would also push for the removal of the CPF minimum sum scheme.

"The money is ours - the Government does not have a right to retain it," he says.

ljessica@sph.com.sg

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