Bukit Batok by-election: Eldercare centre, 'emergency button' service on cards for older residents, says Murali

People's Action Party candidate Murali Pillai has plans to take care of elderly residents in Bukit Batok, should he be elected. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
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SINGAPORE - People's Action Party candidate Murali Pillai provided more details on his plans to take care of elderly residents in Bukit Batok, should he be elected as the constituency's MP.

These plans include an additional eldercare centre to provide therapy and daycare services, and an "emergency button" service targeted at old folk who live alone.

"At the moment, about one in nine Bukit Batok residents are aged 65 and above. And five years from now, obviously more seniors will be amongst us," he said on Wednesday (May 4), adding that his proposed plans are meant to address future needs in the area.

The eldercare centre will complement existing services available at St Luke's Hospital in Bukit Batok Street 11, which specialises in caring for elderly patients.

"An additional eldercare centre will help provide more therapy services and daycare services, and we believe this will offer much needed respite to the caregivers - another category of people we need to look at," Mr Murali said after a morning walkabout to meet and greet residents.

The location for the facility has not been settled. Mr Murali has been looking for suitable sites and wants to have the eldercare centre near a bus stop.

He also hopes to set up a community response network with a proposed "emergency button" service. Elderly folk who live alone will wear the a device around their necks and press a button on it when they need help.

"Through my walkabouts, I noted that a number of elderly are living alone. There are a few reasons for that. Some of them are just alone because they don't have any family members, some of them have some issues so as a result, they are living alone. This is not the most ideal, especially if you're sick," said Mr Murali, as he showed the small square device with a button on it to reporters.

With it, the elderly can call for various levels of help. They can alert their neighbours, their relatives, and the community leaders in Bukit Batok, he said.

Mr Murali has used his daily walkabouts since Sunday to provide more details about the various programmes outlined earlier in his manifesto. He has spoken previously about a job placement programme for retrenched workers, a healthcare co-operative, and a youth mentorship scheme.

Asked if these programmes were merely carrots to attract voters, he said: "For any election, it is quite common for residents to expect what value you would bring to them. It is in this context that I have suggested these plans. (Residents) would have to assess if these plans are worth supporting."

The proposed plans are "over and above what we are already doing in Bukit Batok", he added. " It's actually much more than just these plans. It's a whole system."

He was also asked to comment on remarks by his opponent, Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan, who said that Mr Murali would not be able to speak up for residents in Parliament as he would be constrained by the party Whip while debating issues.

Said Mr Murali: "I think it must be clearly understood that while we have a position on national issues, we must also have a response to deal with the need of the local residents. Those are the residents who voted the elected representative in."

He added: "It's one thing to talk in Parliament and push for an issue. But that's not the panacea for everything. We also need to have concrete plans to help our residents."

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