Elections 2001

by Francis Kan

Mr Jeyaretnam (left) announcing his resignation yesterday.

VETERAN opposition figure JB Jeyaretnam has finally parted ways with the Workers’ Party (WP), after falling out with the party’s leadership.

But while he may have resigned from the party, the 76-year-old lawyer made it clear that he was not quitting the political scene here.

Mr Jeyaretnam, barred from standing in the upcoming General Elections after being made a bankrupt in July, said his bankruptcy could have been avoided if the party had helped.

“The truth is I received no help whatsoever from the party leaders, particularly Mr Low Thia Khiang and Dr Tan Bin Seng,” he said at a press conference to announce his resignation yesterday.

Mr Low, who is the Member of Parliament for Hougang, replaced Mr Jeyaretnam as the party’s secretary-general in May, ending the latter’s 30 years at the helm. Dr Tan is the party chairman.

Another 10 party members also planned to submit their resignations, WP cadre member Goh Yew Chye revealed.

A former Non-Constituency MP, Mr Jeyaretnam lost his seat in Parliament after he was made a bankrupt because he could not pay $480,508 in damages and legal costs to eight people who were defamed by the Workers’ Party in 1995.

He said that with Mr Low and Dr Tan’s help, he could have possibly avoided the bankruptcy.

Despite his non-candidacy, Mr Jeyaretnam is determined to make his presence felt by challenging the requirement for candidates to put up a $13,000 deposit each before contesting the elections.

“Nowhere (in the Constitution) does it say that they must have a certain amount of wealth before they can stand,” he said. Citing the 2000 household income survey from the Department of Statistics, he said that 27 per cent of housholds here are earning less than $2,000 per month.

“How do you expect them to come up with $13,000 if they want to serve the people of Singapore. This is discrimination of the basest kind.”

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