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BUKIT BATOK BY-ELECTION

Murali promises new infrastructure plans for constituency if elected

These include covered linkways, a jogging track, and a multi-generational park

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Mr Murali talking to Bukit Batok voters on Sunday. He said "other plans will be revealed in due course, before Nomination Day (on April 27). What we are dealing with today are some plans to improve the livability, to enhance the family environment for our residents."

Singapore

MURALI Pillai has many plans to improve Bukit Batok but the People's Action Party's (PAP) candidate in next month's by-election stressed that, unless voters there back him, he will not be able to carry out the plans.

The 48-year-old lawyer announced on Sunday a slew of upgrading plans for the single-member constituency (SMC), including covered linkways, a jogging track, and a multi- generational park.

The infrastructure plans come under the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme for 10 blocks on Bukit Batok West Avenue 4. These were conceptualised after an extensive survey of residents in late 2015 to find out how to enhance their living environment.

Mr Murali, whose main opponent in the May 7 by-election will likely be Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan, said the PAP-run Jurong-Clementi Town Council could execute these plans only if the majority of Bukit Batok's 25,727 eligible voters elect him.

"It's really up to our residents. We will have the mandate to carry on only if we are returned at the by-election," he told reporters. "If we don't have the mandate, then we don't have the ability to carry on because we would not form the town council. Those are the rules."

The PAP-run town council, which takes care of the Bukit Batok ward, was chaired by ex-Bukit Batok Member of Parliament David Ong. The 54-year-old resigned from his post and the ruling party on March 12 amid allegations that he had an extramarital affair. His sudden departure triggered this by-election.

The town council is now helmed by Ang Wei Neng, an MP from the neighbouring Jurong GRC (Group Representation Constituency).

"We will continue to do more for residents, but the key is to get their feedback and understand what their needs are, so we can cater properly to them," said Mr Murali.

"Other plans will be revealed in due course, before Nomination Day (on April 27). What we are dealing with today are some plans to improve the livability, to enhance the family environment for our residents," he added.

In a video posted on the SDP's official Facebook page, Dr Chee, 53, questioned the timing of Mr Murali's announcement to build facilities such as parks and walkways.

"It's easy to propose things just before an election comes, to make sure that things are built and try to entice the voters. It's quite another matter for the cost of maintenance, and that's where we want to reach out to the residents and explain to them the different approaches (between the PAP and SDP)," he said.

Last Friday, Dr Chee, the opposition party's secretary-general, announced that he would roll out four social programmes if elected.

These include initiatives to dispense financial and legal advice, and setting up a trust fund to help the elderly poor in Bukit Batok. Another initiative seeks to encourage households to "adopt" a needy family in the community in an effort to build closer bonds between residents in the ward.

"The whole idea is that we are going to bring the community together to ensure that people here don't just live very atomised lives - when they come back from work, they don't just go into their homes, shut the door and that's it," said Dr Chee on Sunday.

"We want people to gather to build this community and I think that going forward, Singapore needs such a kind of community."