PAP MP Murali Pillai, who won the Bulik Batok SMC by-elections in 2016 against SDP, was one of three top legal practitioners named for the coveted position of Senior Counsel by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon at the opening ceremony of the new legal year. Senior Counsels are an elite group of litigators who are recognised as being the best and most skillful legal professionals in the nation and are expected to continuously raise the bar for their aspiring and young lawyers.
Murali Pillai was in the PAP Aljunied GRC team who lost the 2015 GE to the WP team, but was suddenly parachuted in to Bukit Batok SMC when it was vacated due to an extra marital affair by the previous PAP MP, despite having no connection with the residents there. The fact that he won surprised no one, as he was up against the man labelled as a chief troublemaker by the PAP, Chee Soon Juan.
MP Murali was also in the news recently as his Bukit Batok ward was hit by a HDB block fire, in which one elderly woman unfortunately died. SCDF subsequently reprimanded the Town Council for locking the fire water hose reel on the floor of the burning flat, and finding no water pressure on other hose reels in the block itself. Murali subsequently apologised and said his Town Council has to do better. The Town Council immediately placed the blame on the locked water hydrant to a staff member for being too overzealous in combating vandals, and to a contractor for failure to ensure proper water pressure being maintained at all times. After all, of course, how could a PAP MP be responsible for anything the Town Council staff and contractor do, right?
Now, instead of getting questioned in Parliament if his Town Council's misdemeanor makes him unsuitable to carry out MP duties, and whether he should be recused, the part time MP gets rewarded with a high post that is coveted by all lawyers in Singapore. Of course, the job of Senior Counsel will demand Murali's full time dedication. His Bukit Batok residents should now question if he really have got time for them at all.
Was Murali elected as an MP for Bukit Batok just to stop chief troublemaker Chee Soon Juan from entering Parliament, or to really serve his residents? He would say serving residents remain his top priority, but he will now confirm do it on an even more part time basis, if not before.