Murali Pillai on joining the public service: ‘I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. I will give my all.’ 

26/06/2024

Member of Parliament for Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency Murali Pillai said he was stepping out of his comfort zone, joining the Government as Minister of State for Law and Transport. 

Mr Murali, 56, who will take up the positions on July 1, also pledged his utmost effort in serving Singaporeans in his new roles. 

A Senior Counsel and partner at the law firm Rajah & Tann, Mr Murali was one of two backbench Members of Parliament appointed as Political Office Holders by Prime Minister Lawrence Wong during a recent Cabinet reshuffle. 

Jurong GRC MP Shawn Huang, 41, was appointed Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Finance. 
 
In an exclusive interview, Mr Murali told Petir that he was honoured to be invited to serve the government, joining Prime Minister Lawrence Wong’s team to help advance Singapore’s interests.  
 
“My decision was motivated by a sense of duty. It is a huge honour and privilege to serve Singaporeans in this new role, supporting our Ministers and Prime Minister.” 

“Given my background, I believe I can bring diversity to the team and make a meaningful contribution so that any strategies the Prime Minister implements will help move Singapore forward,” Mr Murali said. 
 
After nearly three decades as a private practice lawyer, the second term MP said that he was grateful for the challenges and opportunities of the new role. He was also grateful for the support of his family. He had consulted his wife before accepting the new appointment.  

“One big motivation is the sense of adventure this gives me,” he said. “Having worked in the private sector almost my entire adult life, entering the public sector means adapting to how the office operates and the dynamics. There will be a steep learning curve and my priority is to learn as fast as possible.” 

On his new appointment, Mr Murali,  who chaired the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law and will relinquish the post on July 1, said that he is familiar with the Law Ministry’s agenda and will be happy to take up any tasks the Ministers assign. 

“It boils down to ensuring access to justice for all and retaining Singapore’s status as a premier dispute resolution hub,” he said. “Of course, there are other responsibilities, but these are the two areas I can support.” 

He has made recommendations on areas for legal reforms in Parliament, he added. He hopes to “discuss some of the suggestions with relevant departments” subject to the Ministers’ views. 
 
On his transport portfolio, Mr Murali aims to improve road safety standards through joint efforts with the Home Affairs Ministry. In Parliament, he has urged authorities to mandate proven safety technologies like advanced braking systems and collision warnings for all vehicles in Singapore following a rise in motorcycle deaths in the first quarter of 2023. 

He said: “Road safety for the most vulnerable groups like motorcyclists and the elderly is close to my heart. The statistics show we have not achieved the highest safety standards in these areas. I hope to contribute to improving road safety for all Singaporeans.” 

“This is something that every Singaporean would support. Ensuring high safety levels so that our loved ones can return home safely is in every Singaporean’s interest,” he added. 

He noted that the new job is very different from arguing for clients in court though some skill sets overlap – particularly persuading stakeholders. 

“We are now focusing on the substance of policies, and I need to hone up on it. Who are the stakeholders we need to develop relationships with and gain insights from? I also need to have my own independent thought to provide useful input,” he added. 

“At the end of the day, it’s really working hard, having humility, listening to fellow Singaporeans, and always thinking how to improve their lives.”