Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan yesterday 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 held a full-time job for several years.
Dr Chee pointed to his political work as SDP leader and his writing of books and articles for the SDP newsletter and website, 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."
He hit out at Ms Fu, reminding his audience that she had once said a further cut in ministerial salaries would make it harder for people to serve in government.
But not everyone valued public service in monetary terms, he said.
Dr Chee also responded to other points raised at the PAP's rally on Friday.
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 hopes to raise in the House, such as the Government's spending on scholarships for foreign students at Singapore universities.
This was at odds with the call for Singaporeans to consider whether a degree was the best option for them, he argued.
He also pledged to raise the issue of the Government's land-pricing policy, saying that it had added to the high cost of doing business here, with the costs being passed onto consumers.
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 media reports on his character.
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," Dr Tambyah said.
"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 added, referring to a leak of documents related to offshore companies, which has implicated various politicians worldwide.