A PETITION to wind up the Workers’ Party over a S$511,643 debt owed by the party and two others to 10 committee members of the first Tamil Language Week was adjourned indefinitely yesterday.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mr Liew Teck Huat, asked for an adjournment as his clients were considering other options and they had instructed him to hold on to the petition.
He told Judicial Commissioner Choo Han Teck that the Court of Appeal had this week reserved judgment in an appeal by the party, Mr A. Balakrishnan and Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam.
They had been ordered by the High Court to pay S$265,000 in damages and costs for defaming the 1995 Tamil Language Week organising committee.
Mr Balakrishnan, a veteran WP member, wrote an article criticising these committee members in the August 1995 issue of the party’s newsletter, The Hammer. Mr Jeyaretnam, now a Non-Constituency MP, is its editor.
The 11 committee members sued and 10 of them won.
They claimed the article had portrayed them as government stooges out to curry favour with the authorities. They were also accused of failing to promote the Tamil language and of “nakedly prostituting” themselves for political gain.
Among those who sued was a People’s Action Party MP for Bukit Timah GRC, Mr R. Ravindran. The 10 plaintiffs subsequently filed a petition to wind up the party on the grounds of insolvency.
They also filed a second petition to make Mr Jeyaretnam a bankrupt.
The committee has served a bankruptcy notice on Mr Balakrishnan.
Present in court yesterday was Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang, the WP’s assistant secretary-general.
Lawyers interviewed by The Straits Times recently felt that both Mr Low and Mr Jeyaretnam could lose their Parliament seats if the petition is successful and their party is wound up.