Straits Times: Workers’ Party hit by another resignation

Rising star opposed to new party curbs on Internet postings

BY KEN KWEK & PEH SHING HUEI

A RISING star in the Workers’ Party quit the party yesterday in protest over members’ right to speak freely on the Internet.

Lawyer and central executive council (CEC) member Chia Ti Lik, who led the WP’s East Coast GRC team at the May General Election, said that he was opposed to a new resolution on Internet conduct passed by the party leadership.

The new ruling prevents CEC members from posting comments or statements on the Internet in their own name.

“This is about freedom of expression. Opposition members must be allowed to voice their criticism of the Government’s policies and engage in any issue or debate that is of public interest,” said Mr Chia.

One of the WP’s youngest leaders, Mr Chia, 32, is the second member in as many weeks to resign from the party.

On Tuesday, another CEC member, Mr Goh Meng Seng, said he quit the WP two weeks ago after creating what he called “a bad image” for the party with his harsh online postings.

Party leaders met on Tuesday night at WP’s Jalan Besar headquarters and passed the Internet resolution.

Mr Chia, who was not at the meeting, was dismayed by the move, saying it further limited the WP’s “scope and pace” of communication with the public.

“Since we often face problems getting our views across in the mainstream press, our only fallback is the Internet. This is a step backwards in public engagement,” he said.

He added that CEC members were now subject to a “slow and tedious process of clearance” if they wanted to respond to any public issue.

Mr Chia joined the WP in 2004, becoming its assistant organising secretary a year later.

He revealed yesterday that the Internet restrictions were among other frustrations he had with the party leadership over the last six months, including during the polls.

One other issue was manpower. He said: “During the General Election, we were very short-handed. Many supporters who helped out in East Coast GRC were not even party members. They were our friends and family.”

He added that he did not intend to join another political party any time soon.

Mr Perry Tong, a CEC member and the WP’s youth wing president, told The Straits Times he was surprised by Mr Chia’s resignation.

As for the WP’s new Internet regulation, Mr Tong said he was “comfortable” with it as the party needed to be cautious about participating in discussions that were “not always responsible”.

Both the party’s secretary-general Low Thia Khiang and chairman Sylvia Lim could not be reached for comment last night.

kenkwek@sph.com.sg
shpeh@sph.com.sg

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