People's Action Party (PAP) candidate contesting in the Bukit Batok by-election Murali Pillai spoke to reporters on 28 April, stating that Members of Parliament (MP) need not be full-time to do this jobs well. His comments come in response to the Singapore Democratic Party's (SDP) Chee Soon Juan saying that unlike Mr Murali, he planned to be a full-time MP if elected.
On Nomination Day on 27 April, Dr Chee addressed the media after it was announced that he and Mr Murali would be contesting in a straight fight for Bukit Batok SMC.
Dr Chee promised to be a full-time MP to better serve Bukit Batok residents. "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," he said.
"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,” he added.
A former academic, Dr Chee does not have a full-time job. Mr Murali, on the other hand, is head of commercial litigation for law firm Rajah & Tann.
Mr Murali touched on the topic when speaking at Block 104, Bukit Batok Central. He noted that MPs from PAP have been simultaneously holding full-time jobs while also serving as MPs, and that this arrangement has not led to problems in running a constituency.
Mr Murali also noted the need for a team approach to meet the needs of residents, and that a single MP working full time but without partnerships would not be able to achieve such an outcome. He pointed out that the PAP was ready with an experienced and competent team to manage the SMC.
Residents could also be assured that Mr Murali would prioritise the community over himself. "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," he said.