SINGAPORE - Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan on Sunday (May 1) defended himself against People's Action Party (PAP) politicians' remarks that he does not have a "full-time job".
"The truth is that I've been working every single day to not just keep the SDP together but build it up, and to think and propose and write about ideas for Singapore," he said in his second rally of the Bukit Batok by-election campaign.
In a 50-minute speech at Bukit Gombak stadium, Dr Chee also outlined previously-announced plans for the single seat and listed some national issues he hopes to take up in Parliament if elected on May 7.
Over the weekend, both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu called into question Dr Chee's suitability to be an MP after not having been employed for several years.
Dr Chee pointed to his political work and his writing of books and articles, and said: "I've been working very, very much and very, very hard, it's just that I have not been asking to be paid very, very much money.
Dr Chee also rebutted other points raised at the PAP's rally on Friday.
To Ms Fu's comment that some people have been asking Chinese residents to vote for a Chinese candidate over PAP candidate Murali Pillai, Dr Chee stressed that the SDP was not a racist party.
To Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob's charge that he "does not respect elders" as he heckled then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in 2001, Dr Chee said that PAP's policies were truly disrespectful for "forcing the elderly" to become cleaners.
Dr Chee also elaborated on four schemes he will introduce in Bukit Batok if elected: providing stipends for needy families and getting well-off residents to adopt them, help for students, financial advice and legal clinics.
The difference between him and Mr Murali, he added, was that he will be a full-time MP and he will be able to speak up in Parliament.
He gave examples of issues he hoped to raise in the House, such as scholarships for Asean students and the Government's land-pricing policy.
Eight speakers spoke before Dr Chee at last night's SDP rally, and many hit out at the PAP's remarks on Dr Chee and urged voters not to trust the media.
Ms Jaslyn Go, who polled 26.5 per cent against Ms Fu in Yuhua in last September's general election, said Ms Fu's comments about Dr Chee's work experience were disparaging to stay-at-home mothers and grandparents.
Dr Paul Tambyah, Dr Chee's running mate in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC last year, noted Mr Lee's remarks that anyone standing for public office should be prepared to have his past actions examined.
"We totally agree. We welcome the opportunity to examine all the assets of the PAP ministers and MPs," he said, to laughter from the crowd. "In fact, with the current leak of the Panama Papers and other related documents, the PM may get his wish sooner than he expected," he quipped, referring to a leak of documents related to offshore companies, which has implicated various politicians worldwide.