Singapore GE2020: Bukit Batok SMC set for rematch between PAP's Murali Pillai and SDP's Chee Soon Juan

PAP's Murali Pillai (left) and SDP's Chee Soon Juan were announced as candidates for their respective parties for Bukit Batok SMC. ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM, DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Dr Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) is set for a rematch of the 2016 by-election contest he had with Mr Murali Pillai of the People's Action Party after submitting his nomination papers on Tuesday (June 30).

The two candidates had contested the single-member constituency after the departure of PAP MP David Ong over allegations of an extramarital affair.

Mr Ong had won the seat in the 2015 General Election in a three-cornered fight with the SDP's Mr Sadasivam Veriyah and independent candidate Samir Salim Neji.

Bukit Batok, home to 29,950 voters, is the second largest SMC after Bukit Panjang, which the SDP is also contesting.

Mr Murali, 52, is no stranger to Bukit Batok as it was there that he first got involved in grassroots work in 2000, providing free legal aid to residents.

He later became PAP branch secretary in 2007.

Mr Murali was part of the PAP line-up for Aljunied GRC in the 2015 General Election, which the party lost to the Workers' Party.

Dr Chee, 57, contested Holland-Bukit Timah in the last election, where the party lost to the PAP.

In the days leading up to Nomination Day, Dr Chee told reporters that Mr Murali has to "choose", saying being an MP is not a part-time job that can be outsourced.

He was taking issue with delayed improvement works under the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme in Bukit Batok, and noted that such works close to a market were not properly fenced off.

Mr Murali responded by saying that he continues to be fully involved in helping Bukit Batok residents, particularly in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, he spelt out some of the plans, which he said he will go into detail over the next few days. They include a strengthening of social welfare support and healthcare programmes, and the setting up a food bank.

Mr Murali said the initiatives are to help Bukit Batok residents ride the Covid-19 storm together.

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