A post, headlined "Beware of Indian MP: Priority Queue For Indian SPR @ Bukit Batok SMC" was posted just recently on Sammyboy forum showing an image of a notice that is allegedly shown at the Meet-the-People-Session (MPS) of Bukit Batok SMC.
The text on the notice wrote: "We would be grateful if Singapore Permanent Residents residing in Bukit Batok SMC who intend to attend MPS, please proceed to identify themselves directly at the registration country without the need to queue. Thank you."
There is no other information on the post other than the image and the sensational headline.
Commenting on the post on sammyboy forum, Member of Parliament of Bukit Batok SMC, Mr Murali wrote, "The news is false. There is no priority queue for PRs, let alone Indian PRs, at our weekly MPS. Anyone who attends our MPS would know that this simply not true", confirming that the notice is indeed from the MPS.
He wrote, "It is sad that someone has twisted the facts for his own reasons and, at the same time, tried to inflame race relations as well." and noted that the notice was left behind after the MPS leading to the person taking a photo of it and making the false and misleading claim.
"We believe though that the person who made the post fully knows this fact. Nonetheless we will not be deterred and concentrate on serving our residents." wrote Mr Murali.
Notice very misleading say the Public
Members of Public who read the text of the notice all agree that they came to the same understanding that PRs were given priority. Writing on Channel News Asia's Facebook post, commentators agreed that the text is misleading.
Kenny Giam wrote, "The notice is atrociously misleading on how it is worded and the MP Murali Pillai still wouldn't think its a problem and insist to continue using it?! Then Mr. Murali, you are the problem!"
Chiaw Meng wrote, "If I did not read the news and comment, I would have interpreted it as PRs get priority to see Singapore Member of Parliament. Nothing on this notice says anything about Singaporean sponsorship required. Better stop using this notice."
Darren Yau wrote, "The notice is poorly worded, leading to a misunderstanding. I also came to the same conclusion. Whoever wrote the notice should have done a better job."
Kiong Sham wrote, "Backtracking on a badly written notice that was taken out of context. Just apologise, Murali for the mistake instead of finding fault with someone who pointed out your mistake albeit out of context."
Goh Rayson wrote, "It's obvious that the notice is poorly worded. Instead of making an apology and getting the notice reworded for clarity, the MP insisted that there was nothing wrong with it and will continue using it. Sounds very arrogant."
Should PRs be entitled to seek assistance from Members of Parliament?
Mr Murali in his post also wrote, "The notice was put up in the queue area outside the Bukit Batok branch to allow Singapore PRs to be told upfront by the registration counter volunteers that for petitions to be written on their behalf, they would need to provide more details such as their Singaporean sponsors. Otherwise, they may have waited in vain.
Sheena Bee wrote on Mr Muralia's Facebook post, "It's stated black and white clearly that "PR....without the need to queue...", so don't blame the residents who have misunderstood it, u should blame the one who has written it and put up the notice board."
The notice did not state clearly that PRs are just being informed that they will have to provide additional information. It also does not make sense because information such as the Singaporean sponsors can be easily provided unless the MP will only attend to the PRs if their Singaporean sponsors are living in the ward.
This brings to another question of why PRs should be seeking help from the Members of Parliament who are elected to serve their voters. PRs are foreigners who are given the right to reside in Singapore and accessibility to other rights that Singaporeans enjoy, such as the purchase of public housing. If PRs were to face any problem, shouldn't they seek assistance from their embassy instead of the local MP?
Masliah Lynn who also wrote on the same Facebook post, "I last heard PRs, even S pass holders have access to MPS at some estates. Their Singaporean sponsors (residents) most time, their countrymen who turned local. Personally, I do not think MPS should serve S passes. Thank you."