Holding a by-election just eight months after a general election is a waste of public money, said Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) member Sadasivam Veriyah at his party's rally last night.
The 63-year-old, who stood in the constituency in last September's polls, hit out at People's Action Party MP David Ong for the personal indiscretion that led him to step down, leaving the Bukit Batok seat vacant.
"As a politician, if you are standing for election, your concentration should be to serve residents. Not about personal life. If you have got other interests, other commitments, you should not be standing for election," he said.
Mr Sadasivam, a former teacher and PAP member, brandished a copy of Mr Ong's pamphlet from the GE2015 hustings and said: "Most of you would have received this pamphlet distributed by David Ong. Please refer to the last page where he said it's a privilege to serve you. Where is he now?
"You believed in his promises, you believed what he said, 73 per cent voted for him but, within six months, he has vanished from the political scene!"
PLANS IN PLACE
Running the town council will allow the SDP to shine and demonstrate our competence.
Already, we have formed a transition team that will ensure a smooth handover process from the PAP team, should we win the election. We have listed out specific things that we will accomplish at the end of the first 100 days.
We do this because we not only want to match the current levels of management of PAP-run town councils, but we also want to surpass them.
We want to set new standards for transparency and accountability in town council governance.
SINGAPORE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHIEF CHEE SOON JUAN, assuring voters that his party is prepared to run a town council.
The SDP would like to reassure residents that both the HIP (Home Improvement Programme) and the NRP (Neighbourhood Renewal Programme) will continue, regardless of who they choose to lead them on May 7.
For example, we know that for (Aljunied GRC MP) Mr Pritam Singh, the Eunos Spring NRP programme went ahead despite the change in town council in Aljunied.
Similarly, Hougang was among the second batch of the HDB's Remaking Our Heartland project despite the fact that Hougang has not had a PAP MP for more than 25 years.
So don't worry, this constituency will not be left behind.
SDP MEMBER PAUL TAMBYAH, on how upgrading projects will go on, regardless of the MP Bukit Batok residents elect.
Mr Sadasivam had polled 26.4 per cent in the three-cornered fight in the constituency.
He was among several speakers last night who accused Mr Ong of breaking his promise to residents. Mr Ong stepped down on March 12 over an alleged extramarital affair.
However, SDP chief Chee Soon Juan said as he wrapped up last night's rally: " You never kick a man when he's down, there's no honour in that. For all I know, David Ong is a good guy, but sometimes good guys make bad mistakes. Who hasn't?"
Dr Chee said some people have advised him to capitalise on what they termed the "weakest point" of the PAP, but he did not want to do so.
He noted that this is the second by-election in three years sparked by similar circumstances surrounding PAP MPs. The first was at Punggol East in 2013.
He said: "Let's leave Mr Ong alone for him to find his life again and let his family heal again."
Speakers at the rally also called on Bukit Batok residents to vote Dr Chee into Parliament, holding him up as an alternative voice.
SDP member Damanhuri Abas accused the PAP of not being upfront over $1.9 million worth of estate upgrading plans for a precinct in Bukit Batok in a saga that unfolded over the past week.
He said: "Fortunately in this instance, they were caught like David Ong with his pants down."
This was but one in a series of recent incidents that Mr Damanhuri cited, arguing that Singapore's meritocratic system has lost its way.
The examples include the two SMRT workers who were hit and killed by an oncoming train last month, and the hepatitis C outbreak at the Singapore General Hospital last year.
There were "serious flaws" in how leaders get appointed, he said, adding that they appeared to be protected by the PAP Government and had a lack of accountability.
He said these were issues that Dr Chee would raise in Parliament.
National University of Singapore medical professor Paul Tambyah said: "The Government will not change on May 7... But with Dr Chee in Parliament, you'll have a fresh voice, someone who is not afraid to stand up, to speak up for the least and the last of us."
Two opposition parties back SDP
Two opposition parties said yesterday that they have given their blessings for party members to help the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) campaign in the Bukit Batok by-election.
The Reform Party (RP) said in a statement that its members were "free to follow their conscience in volunteering to help the SDP".
In fact, the party's leadership "actively encourages" its members to do so, the statement said.
Citing opposition unity as having played a part in the Workers' Party's (WP) win in the 1981 Anson by-election, where WP veteran and RP founder J.B. Jeyaretnam was voted in, the RP called on other opposition parties to "follow suit" and support the SDP.
Separately, the People's Power Party said in a Facebook post that it would not stop its members from speaking at SDP rallies or helping the party on a personal basis.