SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party (PAP) candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election unveiled his plans for the single-seat ward on Tuesday (April 26).
Among these plans announced by Mr Murali Pillai, 48, at a press conference were a healthcare cooperative so elderly residents can purchase items like catheters and vitamins at a lower cost, and a job placement programme to help unemployed residents find work more quickly.
He also said that if elected, he would push for higher ElderShield payouts, which stand at $400 monthly. Eldershield is a national insurance scheme for those with severe disabilities.
These programmes would be on top of the existing 22 run by the PAP, grassroots organisations and non-profit organisations, Mr Murali said.
Responding to questions on whether these programmes would continue if he did not get elected, he said it "depends on the MP, who decides on the programmes which could benefit residents".
Elaborating on this point later, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shamugaratnam, who was present, said both the PAP and SDP are on a "level-playing field" when it comes to whether programmes by grassroots volunteers are carried out, regardless of who is elected.
Volunteers "will have to decide whether they carry on with the programmes, are they able to work together, get resources, is there someone there to help them get resources and keep it going," he said.
He added: "We've got something going here - a very strong volunteer base."
Mr Murali will face Dr Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party and possibly three other candidates at the May 7 by-election.
Also present at the press conference was Community, Culture and Youth Minister Grace Fu.
Mr Tharman told reporters he was surprised to read Dr Chee's statement in response to Mr Murali's proposal last Sunday to build a new three-generation park, as part of a $1.9 million upgrading project.
Dr Chee had said he would need to consult residents before taking on such an expensive project.
But Mr Tharman said that these plans came about as a result of months of consultation that started last year, and that there was "no need to begrudge the PAP" for having done its homework.
"If you need more time (to consult the residents), say so. There's no need for bluster," he said.
Mr Tharman added that if Mr Murali is elected, Bukit Batok residents would enjoy the services of a town council - Jurong-Clementi - which had a "decent track record".