Parliament

Murali takes oath in Parliament, then gets down to business

Hours after Mr Murali Pillai was sworn in as the new MP for Bukit Batok (left), he was back in the constituency for his first official duty - a Meet-the-People Session.
Hours after Mr Murali Pillai was sworn in as the new MP for Bukit Batok (left), he was back in the constituency for his first official duty - a Meet-the-People Session. PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, MCI
(Above) Mr Murali speaking with a resident during his first Meet-the-People Session at the Bukit Batok PAP branch office last night. (Left) He was sworn in as MP for the constituency at Parliament House earlier in the day.
Mr Murali speaking with a resident during his first Meet-the-People Session at the Bukit Batok PAP branch office last night.PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, MCI
(Above) Mr Murali speaking with a resident during his first Meet-the-People Session at the Bukit Batok PAP branch office last night. (Left) He was sworn in as MP for the constituency at Parliament House earlier in the day.
He was sworn in as MP for the constituency at Parliament House earlier in the day.PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE

Hours after Mr Murali Pillai took his oath of allegiance in Parliament and was sworn in as the new MP for Bukit Batok, he was back in the constituency for his first official duty - a Meet-the-People Session.

About 80 residents were lining up outside the People's Action Party's (PAP) branch office in Bukit Batok West by 8pm, when their newly minted MP arrived.

Their problems varied, from seeking help to find a new job to asking for a ramp to be installed at a block to help elderly people.

Still, a celebratory mood was in the air. There was a flurry of excitement when Mr Murali, 48, showed up. An elderly resident said a hearty "hello" to his new MP and hugged him, saying: "Hello, my 16-year-old friend!"

He was referring to Mr Murali's 16 years volunteering with the PAP's Bukit Batok branch.

Housewife Koh Lee Moi, 57, rushed forward to garland him and asked for a photograph to be taken with him. She was at the branch office to seek help for her grandson's passport, and had bought the flower garland to show her support for Mr Murali. "I like him. I've met him a few times here. He's a very friendly person," she said.

Mr Murali greeted his residents in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.

 

Speaking briefly to reporters, he said: "I'm really looking forward to meeting the residents. My activists told me we have a good number. I'm hoping to process their cases as quickly as I can."

 

He is also planning some community programmes that will be announced when ready, he said.

When a reporter asked about his result against rival Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party - Mr Murali won 61.2 per cent of the vote in last Saturday's by-election - he said: "I've moved on already. I'm no longer talking about what happened in the past; I'm focusing on serving the residents."

Also hard at work were grassroots leaders and volunteers.

Mr Leow Boon Swee, 45, the PAP branch secretary in Bukit Batok, took a look at the line outside the office and said the session would likely end around midnight. He had been by Mr Murali's side throughout the nine-day campaign. When asked if he was tired, he said: "I got some rest here and there... But our priority is to ensure the residents are helped."

Earlier, Mr Leow was at Parliament House with activists from the PAP's Bukit Batok and Paya Lebar branches to lend support to Mr Murali as he was sworn in as an MP.

Also present were former MP Yeo Guat Kwang, Mr Chua Eng Leong, Mr Shamsul Kamar and Mr Victor Lye, who had all contested Aljunied GRC with him in last year's general election. Mr Lye said on Facebook, referring to Mr Murali's nickname: "We are so happy for Murali. We know Ah Mu will do his best for them just as he tried his best for residents in Paya Lebar ward of Aljunied GRC."

Former Bukit Batok MP David Ong, who resigned from the PAP on March 12 over an alleged extramarital affair, which triggered the by- election, said on Facebook: "Very happy with Murali's results and knowing the residents will be very (well) served by a hard-working MP. At the same time sad to have to leave Bukit Batok."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2016, with the headline 'Murali takes oath in Parliament, then gets down to business'. Print Edition | Subscribe