SINGAPORE — Three opposition candidates have pledged to become full-time Members of Parliament (MPs) if they were to win at the upcoming General Election (GE) and questioned the commitment of their People’s Action Party (PAP) opponents to serve residents.
Speaking during a televised constituency political broadcast on Friday night (3 July), Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan reiterated his commitment to serve residents on a full-time basis, saying it is not “humanly possible” for an MP to have a daytime job.
“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,” said Dr Chee, who is contesting again in the Bukit Batok single member constituency (SMC).
The SDP secretary-general has criticised incumbent Bukit Batok PAP MP Murali Pillai, whom he lost to in the 2016 by-election, on several occasions about the issue. Murali told reporters ahead of the by-election that there was no need for MPs to serve residents on a full-time basis and give up their day jobs.
“They (the PAP MPs) would prioritise the needs of the residents ahead of their own. If I get elected into parliament and if ever the needs of the residents compete with my own, I’ll always put their needs above mine,” Murali said at the doorstop interview in April 2016.
The Reform Party (RP) candidate Charles Yeo, who is contesting in Ang Mo Kio group representation constituency (GRC), said during the broadcast that voters deserve full-time MPs who are “devoted” to their interests. He called public service “an honour not a right”.
The criminal defence lawyer added, “Numerous residents we met on our walkabouts complained that they have not seen their MP, or only very sporadically, and this is unsurprising. The PAP parachutes in many backbenchers with heavy professional work commitments. Claims of dedication ring hollow unless one is prepared to be a full-time MP.”
Singapore People’s Party (SPP) candidate Steve Chia, who is vying for a seat in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, said likewise that if elected, he and his fellow party members will serve residents as full-time MPs.
The SPP secretary-general said, “We will become MPs who will always be available to you, to attend to your concerns. We want to listen to you with empathy, and address your needs.”
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