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SDP candidates vow to be full-time MPs and personally see to running of wards

IF VOTED into Parliament, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) will personally see to the running of town councils and constituency matters, pledged the party’s leaders on Friday, the first day of the nationally televised constituency broadcasts in the run-up to Singapore's July 10 general elections. 

SDP chairman Paul Tambyah, who is contesting the Bukit Panjang single seat, against Liang Eng Hwa from the People’s Action Party (PAP), said: “We promise that we will run the town council ourselves, with active participation of all residents.

“We will transparently demand all accounts to be released to ensure a smooth transition. There will be no more investments in toxic financial products without the prior knowledge of residents." 

Citing transport minister Khaw Boon Wan’s comments in 2017 that the Bukit Panjang LRT was built as an “after-thought” and because of political pressure, he said: “No one we talked with has admitted to putting political pressure for the LRT, and this leads me to wonder who exactly chose the various improvement projects planned for the town.”

Mr Liang, who was Member of Parliament (MP) for the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC before the House was dissolved for the hustings, reminded residents of the improvements to the transport infrastructure in the constituency over the years. He also acknowledged residents’ concerns about their jobs amid the Covid-19 crisis and promised to help them improve their chances of employability.

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For Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency (SMC), SDP chief Chee Soon Juan reiterated his promise to serve residents full-time and, again, took a jibe at incumbent PAP MP Murali Pillai for “doing the work on a part-time basis”.

The two are set for a rematch this general election. Mr Murali won the SMC with 61.2 per cent of the votes against Dr Chee in a by-election four years ago.

Dr Chee stressed on Friday that it is “not humanly possible” for an MP to have a daytime job while attending to his or her responsibilities in the constituency. 

“First, there is the town council to run, then there are the residents’ needs and concerns to take care of. On top of this, you have to conduct your homework on proposed Bills and speak up in Parliament. I cannot see how someone can handle all these responsibilities on a part-time basis,” he said.

The PAP MPs tend to engage external managing agents, with residents having to foot additional costs, he added.

"This doesn't make sense."

Dr Chee also spelled out plans to publish an interim financial report, as well as to produce a budgetary and 12-month work plan to “make the running of the estate transparent and accountable, as well as for (residents) to track (his) performance”.

Opposition candidates from the Reform Party and the Singapore People’s Party also raised similar criticisms on the responsibilities of PAP MPs.

Mr Murali, a lawyer by profession, recounted how his team set up a fund for low-income families, after a widow of a Covid-19 fatality sought assistance.

Highlighting his track record of service over the past two decades in Bukit Batok, four of which he served as MP, he said: “It is not enough to just have a plan, you need to have the ability to execute, you need to have leadership, you need to have the leadership, the people, the resources and the organisation,” he said.

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