THE High Court yesterday adjourned the hearing of a petition by 10 people to wind up the Workers’ Party for failing to pay them S$511,643 in defamatory damages and legal costs.
The petition claiming that the party cannot pay its debts and is insolvent will be heard next Friday after the hearing on Wednesday of an appeal against last December’s judgment ordering the WP, its secretary-general J.B. Jeyaretnam and veteran member A. Balakrishnan to pay the damages.
The order was made by Justice Goh Joon Seng who ruled that the three defendants had defamed Mr R. Ravindran, a People’s Action Party MP in Bukit Timah GRC, and nine other members of the committee that organised the first Tamil Language Week in 1995. The members were described in an article in the August 1995 issue of the WP’s newsletter, The Hammer, as government stooges out to obtain and curry favour with the authorities.
The article was written by Mr Balakrishnan and published in The Hammer, which was edited by Mr Jeyaretnam, now a Non-Constituency MP.
He and Mr Low Thia Khiang, the Workers’ Party’s MP for Hougang, are likely to lose their seats in Parliament if the petition is successful and the WP is wound up.
The Constitution does not allow an MP, who ceases to be a member of a party that put him up for election, to keep his seat in Parliament.