Straits Times: WP walks away from 2 GRCs

THE Workers’ Party (WP) is unlikely to contest in two group representation constituencies (GRCs) in the general election due by February 2012.

One is Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, while the other is Ang Mo Kio GRC where a group of first-time WP candidates challenged the People’s Action Party (PAP) team led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the 2006 elections.

The two constituencies are no longer potential battlegrounds, as the WP has shut down its committee in charge of reaching out to voters in what it has designated the central area, which includes the Yio Chu Kang single-seat ward.

Area committees plan and conduct house visits in a designated area.

Members and volunteers on the central area committee have been re-deployed to the northern, eastern and northeastern areas, WP’s organising secretary Yaw Shin Leong told The Straits Times.

However, the party still holds regular walkabouts at the three constituencies, he added.

Referring to Ang Mo Kio GRC, he said: “It would take compelling reasons for the WP to go back there – the same way we decide on any other ward.”

He said the WP contested the six-man GRC, which had been uncontested since its inception at the 1991 polls, for three reasons in 2006.

It wanted to give Ang Mo Kio residents a chance to vote, prevent a situation of an uncontested prime minister leading Singapore, and keep PM Lee busy campaigning in his own ward so that he would have less time to lend support to PAP candidates in other wards facing a contest.

The WP team in 2006 was made up of Mr Yaw, then a business analyst aged 30; businesswoman Glenda Han, 30; maintenance inspector Gopal Krishnan, 54; sales executive Melvin Tan, 31; businesswoman Lee Wai Leng, 26; and sales coordinator Abdul Salim Harun, 24. They got 33.86 per cent of the votes cast.

Last year, Mr Abdul Salim and Ms Lee left to join the National Solidarity Party.

The decision to walk away from Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC was done out of respect for Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong, said Mr Yaw, after the opposition veteran declared his intention to contest it at the next general election.

He added: “We don’t want a face-off with a respected veteran of the opposition.”

Posted in 2010 01. Comments Off on Straits Times: WP walks away from 2 GRCs

Straits Times: James Gomez quits Workers’ Party

• BY KOR KIAN BENG


Dr James Gomez, who caused a controversy during the 2006 elections, plans to form a civil society group. ST FILE PHOTO

DR JAMES Gomez, the Workers’ Party (WP) candidate for Aljunied GRC who caused a controversy during the 2006 general election, has quit the party.

He has also submitted an application to set up a civil society group called Singaporeans for Democracy, but the application has yet to be approved by the Registry of Societies (ROS).

Dr Gomez told The Straits Times yesterday that the group he plans to form will aim to promote civil and political reforms among Singaporeans here and abroad using new media tools.

The group submitted its application in April last year but has yet to hear from the ROS, he said.

Under ROS rules, 10 names need to be submitted in any application to start a new society. Dr Gomez declined to say who the other nine are.

When contacted by The Straits Times, the ROS said it received the application on April 28 last year. It is currently processing the application and will inform the society once its registration has been approved, it said.

Dr Gomez, who turns 45 this Sunday, sparked what became known as the “James Gomez affair” in 2006 when he got into an altercation with Elections Department officials over whether or not he had submitted a requisite form for the election.

He said he had, but video footage later showed that he had instead put the form back into his briefcase.

Leaders of the People’s Action Party accused him of trying to discredit the Elections Department by claiming its staff had misplaced his form.

He was also given a stern warning by the police for using threatening words towards a public servant.

The WP team that he was a part of garnered 43.9 per cent of the votes in Aljunied GRC.

On Tuesday, at a Speakers’ Corner event, Dr Gomez announced his departure from the WP.

The event was a birthday memorial for the late J.B. Jeyaretnam, a former WP leader, who died in 2008. The event was organised by Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam and other political activists.

Dr Gomez joined the WP in 2001 and became its second assistant secretary-general a year later.

However, he became inactive after the May 2006 polls. He left Singapore shortly after to work as a researcher in a Swedish think-tank till 2008, and then as a visiting scholar at Japan’s Keio University till last year.

He is currently based in Melbourne, where he teaches public relations at Monash University, the university he received his doctorate from in 2008.

Back in Singapore for two months, Dr Gomez said he did not renew his WP membership when it expired on Dec 31 last year because it was in the “natural flow of things as personal situations do shift”.

He did not rule out contesting the next general election, which must be held by early 2012, although he said his immediate goal was to move into “non-party grounds”.

Asked if he would contest the next general election, he said this would “depend on other factors, like my employer”.

WP organising secretary Yaw Shin Leong said Dr Gomez’s departure would not have an impact on the WP. “People come and people go,” he said.

Other opposition leaders contacted yesterday said they were open to exploring the possibility of Dr Gomez joining them.

Said Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam: “All I can say is that he hasn’t applied to join the Reform Party. We would welcome him as a member, pending the vetting of a selection committee.”

National Solidarity Party president Sebastian Teo said his party did not view what happened in 2006 as a negative for Dr Gomez. Its doors would “always be open to people who share the same platform as us”, he said.

Singapore Democratic Alliance secretary-general Desmond Lim Bak Chuan said its doors were similarly open to anyone, including Dr Gomez.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg

Posted in 2010 01. Comments Off on Straits Times: James Gomez quits Workers’ Party

TODAY: James Gomez quits Workers’ Party

SINGAPORE – An opposition candidate, whose application forms at the Election Department were the focal point of a stir during the General Election in 2006, has quit the Workers’ Party (WP).

Mr James Gomez, who stood on the WP ticket in the Aljunied GRC, announced yesterday at a Speakers’ Corner event in memory of the late opposition figure JB Jeyaretnam his decision not to renew his party membership which had lapsed on Dec 31.

Instead, he and several others have applied to the Registrar of Societies to set up a political association called Singaporeans for Democracy.

Mr Gomez claimed during the 2006 General Election that he had submitted his form for the minority certificate to the Election Department. Investigations and CCTV footage later showed he had not done so.

Mr Gomez was then taken to task by leaders of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP). As Polling Day neared, Mr Gomez admitted he had forgotten to submit the forms.

The WP team lost narrowly to the PAP team in Aljunied GRC. S RAMESH

Posted in 2010 01. Comments Off on TODAY: James Gomez quits Workers’ Party