Bukit Batok by-election: Murali Pillai gives more details of planned health co-operative

PAP candidate Murali Pillai has announced that he will start a healthcare cooperative in Bukit Batok.
PAP candidate Murali Pillai has announced that he will start a healthcare cooperative in Bukit Batok. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - To help meet the healthcare needs of Bukit Batok's elderly residents, People's Action Party candidate Murali Pillai will start a healthcare cooperative in the constituency, he said on Monday (May 2).

He will partner non-profit organisation The Good Life Cooperative in the initiative, so residents can get health screenings and check-ups at their doorstep - through mobile clinics that will make visits to the constituency.

With just three days left to win the hearts of Bukit Batok residents, Mr Murali gave more details of how he plans to reduce healthcare costs for the elderly if he is elected on May 7.

Although the cooperative is open to all, having more members concentrated in a certain area would mean that mobile clinics can ply the neighbourhood more frequently, said cooperative chairman Carol Tan.

But that would require someone who is not only able to raise funds, but also reach out to residents and encourage them to sign up for the cooperative - like Mr Murali - Dr Tan said, after accompanying him on his walkabout in the morning.

“It isn’t just about having money to buy the (mobile clinic). Because if the bus is there, but nobody comes, it doesn’t serve the people,” added Dr Tan, a PAP member.

The cooperative would also allow its members to purchase items like adult diapers and catheters at a lower price.

This would particularly help the “sandwiched class", who may not qualify for as many subsidies as those in lower-income households but still struggle to pay the bills, said Mr Murali.

It would also give health talks in English, Malay, Tamil, Chinese and various dialects, to help the elderly prevent or delay the onset of illnesses by encouraging them to make lifestyle changes, he told reporters.

Mr Murali had worked with Good Life last year to bring mobile clinics to residents in Aljunied GRC, where he stood in last September’s general election, and Hougang SMC.

Bukit Batok, an ageing town that has been around for about 30 years, would benefit from a similar programme, he said.

He added: “We will help as many as possible… but at the present moment, we seek the buy-in of our Bukit Batok residents and hope they can support us.”

Asked whether the health cooperative would be set up regardless of who is elected MP, Dr Tan said her organisation “will work with the leader we believe will be able to drive the programme".

On Sunday, Mr Murali had outlined how his proposed job placement programme would help retrenched workers and the unemployed in Bukit Batok.

In his manifesto, he said he would focus on three groups of people: those seeking jobs, the elderly and children from low-income or broken families.

Part-time dance instructor June Kiew, 60, said she had read of Mr Murali’s plans in the news and took particular interest in the health cooperative.

She suggested that it should be a national policy, adding: "Ageing is not easy."