Straits Times: WP chief: JBJ will give voters more choice

BY KEN KWEK

VOTERS will enjoy more choice if Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam runs in the upcoming polls, said erstwhile party colleague Low Thia Khiang last night.

All opposition parties aim to provide options, and “Mr Jeyaretnam is also trying to do the same thing”, added Mr Low, the secretary-general of the Workers’ Party (WP).

He also said that the WP is prepared to negotiate with the veteran opposition figure should he decide to contest in Sembawang GRC on an independent slate.

“I believe some of my party colleagues are in touch with Mr Jeyaretnam, so when the time comes we will see what we can do about it,” he said.

Sembawang GRC is one of four GRCs that the Workers’ Party “reserved” as possible seats to contest.

This is part of an opposition pact to avoid three-cornered fights in the elections.

Opposition leaders of various parties reached the pact at a meeting last Friday.

Mr Low’s comments – his first since the pact was reached – are significant given the rift between the two men.

Mr Jeyaretnam led the WP for 30 years until 2001.

Mr Low, his one-time protege, replaced him as party chief in May 2001.

Later that year, Mr Jeyaretnam and several others quit the party after accusing the leadership of not standing by him in his various defamation suits.

Mr Jeyaretnam intends to contest the coming election but must first discharge himself from bankruptcy.

He has a court hearing on March 28 to do so, after failing to raise enough sums at an earlier hearing this week.

Mr Low, who spoke last night after meeting residents at his weekly Meet-the-People session at his Hougang ward, said he was optimistic the coming General Election would pose fewer problems for the opposition “administratively”.

He was referring to the last election in 2001, when the WP was disqualified from contesting in Aljunied GRC after an error was made in its statutory declaration.

Procedures for candidacy have been simplified and that ought to help, he noted.

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