By-election candidates should be judged by character and experience: Grace Fu

(Video of the PAP rally by Stefanus Ian)

The character and experience of the potential Member of Parliament for Bukit Batok should be key considerations for residents when they cast their vote in the upcoming by-election, said Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth.

Fu made the point on Friday night (29 April) during the first People’s Action Party (PAP) rally for the Bukit Batok by-election at Bukit Gombak Stadium.

Calling Murali Pillai, PAP’s candidate for the 7 May by-election, a humble person, Fu noted that the lawyer has been serving as a grassroots leader for 16 years. She contrasted Murali’s track record with that of Chee Soon Juan, the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) chief and its candidate for the by-election.

“He (Chee) wants to be a full-time MP. As far as I know, he has not held a full-time job for a long time. Working experience is essential and when you want to employ someone, you will look at their experience.

"It will be interesting to see if there is a referral letter (for Chee) from Chiam See Tong,” she said. Various media reports have said over the years that Chee ousted former SDP chief Chiam from the party in 1993. But Chee and his other SDP members have denied the claim, saying that Chiam left the party voluntarily.

Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (Photo: Bryan Huang/Yahoo Singapore)

Fu was one of two PAP MPs who spoke at the rally, which was attended by over 300 people.

Other PAP members like Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob and MPs Low Yen Ling and Rahayu Mahzam, were also at the stadium to give their support to Murali.

Fu also questioned Chee’s capability to run a town council. “It is not easy to start a town council. In some other constituency, the task of setting up (a town council) will consume management attention for many years,” she said.

"He has also offered to start many new programmes but has he started any social services even when he does not have a full-time job?” she added.

Halimah urged Bukit Batok residents to vote for a candidate who has been serving in the constituency for some time.

Speaking in Malay, she pointed out that Murali has been a grassroots leader at Bukit Batok for 16 years and has been helping residents with many issues, such as job search and legal aid.

She also questioned Chee’s character and reminded Bukit Batok residents about how the SDP chief had stalked and shouted at then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong at Hong Kah West hawker centre in the run-up to the 2001 General Elections.

“I never forget how Chee shouted at then PM Goh. It is unbecoming, especially as Asians we need to respect our elders,” said Halimah.

Murali Pillai waving to supporters after the rally. (Photo: Bryan Huang/ Yahoo Singapore)

In his speech, Murali reiterated that he will put the needs of Bukit Batok before his and insisted that if there is any clash between his interest and that of the residents, he will take care of the residents first.

“I want to make a positive difference for you and the day I stop doing so, I will leave and when I leave, I leave with the shirt on my back and nothing else, except memories of my service with you,” he said.

If you miss the PAP’s first by-election rally, you can watch the YouTube video and a slideshow of the rally highlights.