Streats: Hammer in the works

GE 2001
Face of the past

by WINSTON CHONG


Pic: Francis Lee

WITH Nomination Day around the corner, Mr JB Jeyaretnam yesterday threw a spanner, or in this case, a hammer, in the works.

The veteran opposition politician, along with 10 other Workers’ Party members, announced they were quitting the party.

Mr Jeyaretnam said he had submitted his resignation on Monday.

He accused the party leadership of not helping him fight a bankruptcy case which disqualified him from the election.

While he had no intention of destroying the party’s chances in the polls, he said he had to tell the truth.

“I have always taken the view that the electorate comes above the party. My duty is to the electorate of Singapore and not to the party.”

The 10 others are leaving because of “differences with the new leadership of party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang”, who has said the party will be the voice of the “New Poor”, said cadre member Goh Yew Chye.

“I don’t understand what is the ‘New Poor’. What happened to the old poor? Isn’t the ‘New Poor’ the formerly rich?

“I thought the party is supposed to help the poor get their concerns voiced in Parliament. Even when Mr Low was asked by Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong what the ‘New Poor’ was, he couldn’t answer.”

He added, however, that he will help Dr Christopher Neo, a 38-year-old candidate who is running under the Singapore Democratic Alliance banner.

Mr Low said he was not surprised by Mr Jeyaretnam’s resignation.

Mr Low “did not have the time” to persuade his 76-year-old predecessor to change his mind.

But he acknowledged the lawyer’s contribution.

“No matter how I think, Jeyaretnam has made political history. He has made contributions to the party. He was the one who broke the PAP’s hegemony.”

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