Murali to take oath as MP today

THE new MP for Bukit Batok, Murali Pillai of the People's Action Party (PAP), will take his oath of allegiance when Parliament sits this afternoon.

"I hope to learn quickly from fellow PAP MPs and I want to start contributing actively," he told reporters yesterday, after going around the constituency to thank residents for their support in Saturday's by-election.

Mr Murali won the contest, where he was up against Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan, with 61.2 per cent of the vote.

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob confirmed Mr Murali will be sworn in today, and told The Straits Times: "I am sure that Murali will stay true to his promise and will lend his voice strongly in Parliament to the issues that matter to his Bukit Batok residents and all Singaporeans."

She said an MP is deemed to be elected once the Returning Officer declares he has won the election.

And Mr Murali said yesterday he has a full schedule of plans to implement, and is "raring to go".

Some 10 activists joined him on the back of a lorry that went around the estate for an hour to thank residents, many of whom congratulated and cheered him on.

"I am really very grateful for the great turnout of my supporters and volunteers."

Residents can also expect details on the projects he promised during the nine-day campaign "in a matter of months", he added.

These include a job placement programme, a health cooperative and a youth mentorship scheme. He said he was finding as many partners for the plans as possible.

He will also hold his first Meet-the-People Session after the election this evening at the PAP's Bukit Batok branch.

On Saturday, Mr Murali became the first PAP candidate to win a by-election in a single-member constituency in more than three decades.

But his share of the vote was nearly 12 percentage points lower than that won by former MP David Ong at last September's general election.

Saturday's by-election was triggered by the resignation of Mr Ong in March over an alleged extramarital affair, a factor analysts said cost the PAP some votes, as did the profile of Mr Murali's rival Dr Chee.

Dr Chee said yesterday he would remain committed to Bukit Batok.

Mr Murali said he welcomed this: "It's good because we're talking about serving our residents."

The days ahead will also be full of reflection, he added, noting that he and his team will analyse the campaign and make sure they communicate more effectively with residents.

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