“Imagine a Parliament filled with just full-time politicians. The Parliament will have politicians with the same blind spot,” said People’s Action Party’s (PAP) candidate for Bukit Batok SMC Murali Pillai, in response to a question raised by the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan.
Dr Chee, who is facing off with Mr Murali at Bukit Batok SMC in the upcoming GE, expressed in an earlier Facebook post the importance of having a full-time Member of Parliament (MP) to serve the residents who voted for the politician.
He pointed out that Mr Murali has neglected his duties as an MP to Bukit Batok residents after the former found out about several issues in the constituency, including a site under construction was left in a hazardous manner, as well as overdue contracts and expired permits.
To this, Mr Murali said full-time MPs can result in having the same blind spot, which is why the Parliament encourages individuals from different backgrounds to be part of it.
“And that’s why over the years, we have stuck to the policy of drawing into Parliament people from different backgrounds,” Mr Murali said to reporters on Wednesday while we was handing out flyers to residents near Bukit View Primary School.
He added that his experience as a lawyer made it possible for him to give comments on legislative Bills.
As for Dr Chee’s remarks on expired permits, delayed projects and safety lapses, Mr Murali said: “I’ve reviewed the town council’s statement and I note there were some shortcomings. But the nature of shortcomings are not systematic.”
He added that people should not “lose sight” of the Jurong-Clementi Town Council’s duty of care to 85,000 residential and commercial units in a “cost-effective” manner.
“I would also add that as far as the shortcomings are concerned, certainly, action will be taken in relation to the appropriate officer, so that we will make sure that the appropriate level of services are continually delivered,” he said.
The Jurong-Clementi Town Council has also released a statement on Wednesday clarifying Dr Chee’s comments.
Politics should evolve in a “responsible way”
When asked to comment on the role Internet plays during election campaign, as well as how allegations can emerge against candidates, Mr Murali said he hopes politics will evolve in a “responsible way”.
“Maybe people of my generation have thick skin – you can take the heat. But I do hope that we will evolve politics in a responsible way, because we must make sure that we continue to attract people who are dedicated to serve Singaporeans,” he said.
Just a few minutes after election was declared at Bukit Batok SMC, a video surfaced online highlighting Mr Murali’s son’s past offences.
Calling it “scurrilous attack”, the PAP candidate said: “My son was a victim, of a scandal. He also committed offences. The court has dealt with all these matters. The perpetrators behind the scandal have been dealt with. He himself has been dealt with and is serving sentence”, adding that the timing to which the post surfaced “leaves nothing to imagination”.
Dr Chee also took to his Facebook on Wednesday to criticise the attack and urged others not to circulate the video.
“I stand with Mr Murali on this and call on whoever did this video to stop it and for others not to circulate it,” Dr Chee wrote.
He continued, “This is not what politics should be. Politics is about ideas on how we can make our nation better, not personal attacks like this.”