PAP unveils $1.9m neighbourhood upgrading plans

MURALI Pillai, the People's Action Party (PAP) candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election, yesterday unveiled $1.9 million worth of infrastructure plans for a neighbourhood in the single-member constituency, if he were to be elected on May 7.

The plans - which include covered walkways, ramps, a jogging track and a three-generational park - come under the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme for the precinct at Blocks 140 to 149, Bukit Batok West Avenue 4, where some 640 of the ward's 12,000 families live.

Mr Murali told reporters at an exhibition on these plans yesterday morning that residents had been surveyed late last year on how the neighbourhood can be enhanced.

But the PAP-run Jurong-Clementi Town Council, which currently looks after Bukit Batok, will only be able to carry out these plans should he be elected, he added.

"This plan we are presenting is a plan by the PAP Jurong-Clementi Town Council. So it's really up to our residents. We will only have the mandate to carry on if we are returned at the by-election," he said.

Also at the exhibition were Jurong GRC MPs Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee and town council chairman Ang Wei Neng.

The May 7 by-election was triggered by the abrupt resignation of PAP MP David Ong on March 12 over an alleged extramarital affair.

Mr Murali's announcement comes two days after the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate, party chief Chee Soon Juan, unveiled four social programmes he planned to roll out if he is elected.

Asked for his take on Dr Chee's initiatives, Mr Murali said: "I've just spoken about the plans I believe Bukit Batok residents can identify with because this came up after a very, very extensive consultation."

Even so, SDP said later yesterday that they "see the need to consult the residents" before committing so much money into the project. It also said linkways should "not be made into an election issue".

The SDP had said last Friday if Dr Chee was elected, its programmes would target youth, the needy and elderly, adding that existing social assistance schemes had not gone far enough. Yesterday, Dr Chee reiterated his intention to build community spirit after cycling through the estate.

"We're going to bring the community together to ensure that people here don't just live very atomised lives - when they come back from work they don't just go into their homes, shut the door and that's it," he said.

When Bukit Batok was last a single seat in 1988 and 1991, SDP candidate Kwan Yue Keng won 44 per cent and 48 per cent of the vote respectively against PAP's Ong Chit Chung.

A Bukit Batok resident of more than 20 years, who gave his name as Mr Ooi, a 54-year-old remisier, felt issues like town council management and help for the underprivileged were more important than upgrading benefits.

Private bus driver Pek Yew Seng, 55, who has lived in Bukit Batok for 17 years, is glad for the covered linkways and ramps as they benefit frequent cyclists like himself.

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