The following is a conversation overheard at a coffee shop. The names have been changed to protect the conversationalists identity but here's the gist of their conversation.
Lup Cheong: Wa Johnny, you were right! The Bukit Batok by election is going to be in May! How come you so zhun har?
Johnny: Well I told you before. It definitely wasn't going to be in April because the G was busy with the budget. So the earliest the by election could be called without any clash with the national calendar would be May. I wonder if May 7th will clash with any of the Bukit Batok schools' exam periods though...
Lup Cheong: Oh ya, isn't that around the midyear exams period? Wonder why PM didn't decide to push the by election to June instead. One more month to campaign would've benefitted his candidate Murali ma.
Johnny: I think it's most probably because PM didn't want the SMC's residents to go without representation for too long by delaying the by election. Besides you know our tjeng hu likes to keep election campaigns short anyway.
Lup Cheong: Ah ya that's true. And right now it looks like it will be a two horse race: Between the PAP's Murali and the SDP's Chee. hmmm...
Johnny: Aren't you anti PAP? What? Can't bring yourself to support anyone else but your beloved WP is it?
Lup Cheong: Well two things: 1: I don't live in Bukit Batok so I can't vote anyway ma.
Johnny: But you can still cheer for the side that's taking on the PAP!
Lup Cheong: I'm not keen on Chee. He has "history".
Johnny: I thought you didn't buy into all that mainstream propaganda?
Lup Cheong: I don't. But it's hard to ignore the fact that the SDP seems to have a revolving door for many of its star attractions/talents. If Chee is who his loyalists make him out to be, how come he can't retain talent to stay with the party?
Johnny: Dunnoe. And frankly dun care.
Lup Cheong: I'm only interested in one thing for this coming by election.
Johnny: What's that?
Lup Cheong: I want to see the polling results. It'll be a big slap in Chee's face if he does worse compared to when Sadasivam contested Bukit Batok during the last year's GE.
Johnny: It would be interesting to see how Chee would spin that result. What's the other reason why you're not so interested in Bukit Batok's by election?
Lup Cheong: The other reason? It's just one seat. One more non PAP MP in parliament is not going to make a difference because the PAP still have a super majority.
Johnny: But Chee's selling point is that he will be one more voice to speak on issues that matter to you in parliament...
Lup Cheong: Please la...there are over 80 other MPs who can speak for me in parliament. I know if I want something raised I can just go see my MP and have them raise it. Having Chee in parliament is not going do anything to block the passage of any bills or laws that I don't like.
Johnny: Wa I'm surprised to hear you talk like that considering how excited you got over the previous by elections!
Lup Cheong: Coz those were WP contested wards ma!
Johnny: I have a feeling this by election is going to be more local than Punggol East and Hougang. That's probably why the SDP went ahead and announced its transition team for the Bukit Batok town council. Chee is trying to assure Bukit Batok residents that they'll see continuity in terms of estate services.
Lup Cheong: And Murali can just coast on the Jurong Clementi town council's expertise and promise business as usual to his voters right?
Johnny: Yeah. But I doubt Murali is just going to "coast" as you put it. He's a long time grassroots activist in that SMC, I bet you he knows better than to take the voters there for granted. Just look at Cheryl Chan over at Fengshan if you want a close example to compare with. I think this fight will be decided by the HDB dwellers and whether they identify more with Chee or Murali. My gut tells me that Murali has the edge in knowing what really matters to the voters of Bukit Batok thanks to his experience.