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Bukit Batok By-Election: The 2-Week Battle to Erase Memories and Plant Promises of Change

RONALD LEE: A former “Bukit Batok kia”, who left after 12 years of grassroots work for Aljunied and now makes his homecoming, the PAP’s Murali Pillai is likely to win big in Bukit Batok.

He’s got the grassroots on his side, the merchants association on his side, and most importantly, the backing of Jurong GRC, of which Bukit Batok SMC was carved out of.

The heft of Tharman and Mdm Haalimah could prove too much for Dr Chee if they throw their weight behind Bukit Batok’s prodigal son.

With the reassurances of these two PAP powerhouses, Bukit Batok voters might just close two eyes to former PAP MP David Ong’s alleged extra-marital affair.

The amorous botak has never confirmed or denied the affair, though he’s widely believed to have been sleeping with a grassroots member on the GE2015 campaign trail.

Conversely, Murali is a family man – a daddy to 4 kids – who has a blemish-free record and can proudly dangle this in front of voters as he promises a once-again stable Bukit Batok.

The only thing that Dr Chee Soon Juan has on his side – history.

The PAP has lost both of the past by-elections, whether the affair was due to a Workers’ Party MP, or another PAP MP.

Dr Chee has pledged to visit every home, in his bid to persuade voters to give him the nod.

But Dr Chee has had his character destroyed through years of bad press, being called all manner names from “psycho” to “anti-Singapore”.

So just as the PAP will try to erase the amorous botak’s transgressions from memory, so too will Dr Chee need to change the perception that most will have of him due to his coloured past.

Since GE2015, Dr Chee has shown exemplary composure, even when attacks were made against his character by PAP cadres on national TV.

Gone is the heckling ways of the past, an in its place the demeanour of an elder statesman.

No more loud protests or kangaroo t-shirts – the Dr Chee of today gives moving rally speeches that tug at the heart strings rather than pierce the ear drums.

Still, his penchant for radicalism remains.

You can see that in the SDP’s plans to run a town council in Bukit Batok should Dr Chee get elected.

It’s a whole new approach to running a town council, one that holds much promise.

The voices of Singaporeans will not affect the poll results, only Singaporeans eligible to vote in Bukit Batok.

Are voters prepared to forget the past Dr Chee and embrace the new one where his energy and thought is put more into measured planning rather than shows of dissent?

Or will Bukit Batok opt for the safe option in Ah Mu?

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