Chee says he will keep working in Bukit Batok

Dr Chee and SDP party members touring Bukit Batok estate yesterday morning, thanking residents following the by-election on Saturday. The SDP chief had 38.8 per cent of the votes while Mr Murali Pillai of the PAP took 61.2 per cent.
Dr Chee and SDP party members touring Bukit Batok estate yesterday morning, thanking residents following the by-election on Saturday. The SDP chief had 38.8 per cent of the votes while Mr Murali Pillai of the PAP took 61.2 per cent. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Party will continue to reach out to residents, says SDP chief, thanking them for support

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan says he and his party are "just as determined" to continue working for the residents of Bukit Batok, a day after he lost the by-election for the single seat.

The promises made to Bukit Batok voters over the campaign period "were not just for consumption and then, after the (election), we don't continue", he told reporters after going around the constituency for an hour yesterday morning to thank voters for their support.

"It has been a good campaign, we gave it all we had, the attention should go to our members," he said. "Everybody deserves a good rest and then, we'll be back again."

Dr Chee had said on Saturday he would stay on in Bukit Batok and win over voters.

Asked yesterday if he would stand in Bukit Batok again at the next general election, he cited how electoral boundaries keep changing, and said: "We'll never know what's going to be redrawn. We just have to see what happens and we'll respond accordingly."

But, in the meantime, he said SDP would keep going down to the ground to engage residents in the single-member constituency, which was carved out of Jurong GRC ahead of last September's general election.

Dr Chee had 38.8 per cent of the votes in Saturday's by-election, where he was up against Mr Murali Pillai of the People's Action Party (PAP), who won 61.2 per cent of the votes.

Yesterday, he stopped short of giving details about how he intends to build on his result in Bukit Batok - his best performance in five electoral outings - and said he was constrained by "the PAP town council".

"This question is better put to the PAP town council because, every time we make a move, they stop us," he said, citing an application to hold a health-screening event during the campaign period that Dr Chee said was turned down.

"You need space, physical space, to talk to people, explain to people, right? If we can't use space there, what are you going to do?" he said.

Dr Chee said despite such constraints, the SDP will continue to reach out to residents in the estate after taking the next few days to analyse the by-election results, and said residents can "rest assured we will do whatever we can".

"We will continue doing what we have done before, as we have with Marsiling-Yew Tee, with Holland-Bukit Timah, and the constituencies I have contested," he said, referring to the two GRCs the SDP contested in last year's general election.

During yesterday's thank-you procession, Dr Chee and six other SDP members made their way around the estate on the back of a lorry, shaking hands and waving to supporters.

Loudspeakers blared: "Thank you, residents of Bukit Batok for your support and encouragement.

"We look forward to seeing you again."

Even though it was a sleepy Sunday morning, several residents who were at Bukit Batok Central waved back, and shouts of "Thank you, sir" and "Never say die" were heard.

The cheers of encouragement seemed to energise a visibly tired Dr Chee.

He said he will keep trying to raise awareness about issues that he brought up during his campaign, such as the economy, the Central Provident Fund, GIC and Temasek Holdings, saying that "these are still issues Singaporeans should be worried about".

Meanwhile, the National Solidarity Party (NSP) said yesterday it is "greatly encouraged by the Bukit Batok by-election results".

The outcome, the NSP added in a statement, also confirmed its belief that the results of GE2015 - where PAP won 69.9 per cent of votes overall - "were an aberration, due to SG50 and the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2016, with the headline 'Chee says he will keep working in Bukit Batok'. Print Edition | Subscribe