Friday, May 1, 2009

Ex-chairman says his piece

May 1, 2009
Leong Wee Keat,

AS FAR as he was concerned, the Reform Party, Singapore’s youngest political party, did not hold any meetings nor did it call for a vote of no-confidence against his leadership on Sunday night.

Speaking at the Speakers’ Corner yesterday, former Reform Party chairman Ng Teck Siong maintained that he resigned from his post because he felt the fledgling party had strayed from the ideals of its founder, the late J B Jeyaretnam. These include providing challenges, fighting for the interests of the people and country, developing human rights, and preserving justice and equality.

Three other central executive committee members have also resigned from the party.

Today understands that Mr Ng stormed out of the party’s meeting before the no-confidence motion.

“My personal view, and that of other central executive committeemembers, is that if we want to continue with JB’s ideals, we have to move out because people at the wings and the back are not strong in their purpose,” he said.

Mr Jeyaretnam was the party’s secretary-general before he died of heart failure last September. The post was left vacant until his son, Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, was appointed secretary-general earlier this week — a month after he joined the party.

Mr Ng, a long-time ally of the senior Jeyaretnam and one who has been espousing the Opposition’s cause for almost three decades, related that the party was heading to “the second stage” of conducting house visits and producing party publications when there was a “mis-step”.

Asked to elaborate, he declined, saying it was a “painful event which happened in the party”.

When asked about his thoughts on the younger Jeyaretnam taking over, Mr Ng said: “I realised they are two different people — JB was from a different plane, whereas Kenneth has no political record, experience.”

Using a football analogy, he added: “It will be a huge task for him to move the party because the flanks and the back will not be of great help.”

Were there a lot of disagreements between Mr Ng and the younger Jeyaretnam? “Time will tell,” was Mr Ng’s reply. “We in the Opposition must show unity. We are not going to talk about the differences.”

Mr Jeyaretnam did not respond to queries by press time.

Related reports:
Former Chairman of Reform Party gives press conference on his alleged ouster
Ex-Reform Party chairman denies ouster