Bukit Batok by-election

Murali hoping to start youth mentoring scheme

Mr Murali on a walkabout in Bukit Batok West Avenue 6 yesterday. The PAP candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election says he is seeking to build up a pool of volunteers who can help unlock students' potential.
Mr Murali on a walkabout in Bukit Batok West Avenue 6 yesterday. The PAP candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election says he is seeking to build up a pool of volunteers who can help unlock students' potential.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The People's Action Party (PAP) candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election is on the lookout for volunteers and voluntary welfare organisations to be part of a youth mentorship programme that he wants to start if he is elected.

Lawyer Murali Pillai, 48, told reporters yesterday morning that he hopes to build up a pool of volunteers who can mentor students and help unlock their potential.

"The mentoring programme is to make sure our children remain on the path to maximise their opportunities and potential," said Mr Murali, adding that he had noted from his community experience that a child's ability to succeed depends in large part on family support.

The mentorship programme will focus on children from low-income backgrounds for a start, though he hopes to open it to as many residents as possible eventually, the head of commercial litigation at law firm Rajah & Tann added.

He said he has already taken down the names of some residents he met on walkabouts who have said they want to volunteer.

PAP'S RESPONSE TO FACEBOOK POST

We have checked with the volunteers present and confirm that no such incident took place, and the alleged remarks are fictitious. What is telling is that the Facebook post claimed that the volunteer had asked Mr Ridhuan Abdullah to attend the PAP rally to show support. There was no PAP rally that day, and neither had any upcoming rally been announced.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PEOPLE'S ACTION PARTY HEADQUARTERS ALEX YAM, responding to an online post by Mr Ridhuan Abdullah, which has been making the rounds online. According to Mr Ridhuan's post, a PAP volunteer had told a commuter at the Bukit Batok bus interchange on Sunday not to support Singapore Democratic Party candidate Chee Soon Juan as Dr Chee is unemployed and worthless.

The volunteers can provide help on two levels: For families with young children, they can guide the parents to strengthen their parenting skills; older teenagers can be directly mentored.

For the latter group, Mr Murali said he hopes to have "volunteers from the school of hard knocks to inspire the children".

He also hopes to adopt what is being done in nearby Jurong Group Representation Constituency, where non-profit welfare organisation Loving Heart reaches out to students through sports, tuition and a mentorship programme.

Mr Murali said he hopes to introduce this programme to schools in Bukit Batok too.

He added that the executive director of the Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services, Ms Sara Tan, has agreed to advise him in her personal capacity in tailoring a programme for Bukit Batok residents.

The proposed mentorship initiative will complement the Dr Ong Chit Chung Bursary Fund for Bukit Batok residents, he said.

Mr Murali had helped to set up the fund named after the late Dr Ong, who was MP for the constituency.

The fund is meant to help children from disadvantaged homes who are ineligible for Edusave awards.

Mr Murali has spent the past few days elaborating on several programmes that are part of his manifesto.

He spoke about his healthcare plans for the constituency on Monday and gave more details about a job placement programme for retrenched residents on Sunday.

Asked if the plans will proceed should he fail in his bid to become the MP for Bukit Batok, Mr Murali said: "I'm not thinking so far ahead."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline 'Murali hoping to start youth mentoring scheme'. Print Edition | Subscribe