Speaking to reporters on 3 May after a walkabout, the People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election Murali Pillai outlined a youth mentoring programme as mentioned in his manifesto.
“In Bukit Batok, in my experience here, I’ve noted that the child’s ability to succeed, to a large extent, depends on the family support,” Mr Murali said. “Some families, they have some difficulties,” he observed.
Mr Murali cited an absent spouse or parents being inundate busy with work as possible reasons why children are not provided adequate support at home.
Currently, Dr Ong Chit Chung Bursary Fund, which Murali helped to set up in 2008 after the passing of the former Bukit Batok Member of Parliament (MP) Mr Ong, has enabled more children from Bukit Batok to receive aid, especially if they do not qualify for Edusave awards. This fund, Mr Murali says, was set up with the aim to encourage students, particularly those from the low-income background.
“It has helped students from primary school all the way to universities,” Mr Murali stated, adding that thousands of students have benefitted from the programme.
Nevertheless, Mr Murali expressed the need for more to be done for Bukit Batok’s youth.
“For the mentoring programme, it’s specifically targeted to make sure that our children remain on the path to maximise their opportunities, their potential. Sometimes, they get negative influences and unfortunately, they don't carry on in the way that they should,” he said.
For the success of the mentoring programme, Mr Murali also noted the need for active volunteers and the help of voluntary welfare organisations. He also sought to engage parents as part of the programme to strengthen parenting skills.
Leading up to Election Day on 7 May, the contesting candidates Mr Murali and the Singapore Democratic Party’s Dr Chee Soon Juan have been engaging in walkabouts around the constituency as well as sharing details of their plans for Bukit Batok.
About his proposed mentorship programme, when questioned on what would become of the plan should he not be elected MP, Mr Murali said that currently, he was “not thinking so far ahead.”