Rally goes on despite threats to RP chief's son

Two e-mail messages, containing 27 "awful images", proved to be the last straw for Reform Party (RP) candidate Kenneth Jeyaretnam as he considered calling off his first election rally last night.

The e-mail messages were sent to his son on Friday, and Mr Jeyaretnam told reporters yesterday that they involved threats to castrate his son.

That threat, coming after a string of death threats made against Mr Jeyaretnam and his wife, led the party to announce yesterday morning that it would be cancelling the rally unless it felt assured of the RP chief's safety. Hours later, the party changed its mind and said the show would go on, citing police assurances of security measures.

His wife, Mrs Amanda Jeyaretnam, 52, yesterday also revealed the nature and content of the threats that the family had received in a phone interview with The Straits Times. Both Mrs Jeyaretnam and her son Jared, 16, live in London.

Referring to the e-mail messages, she said: "They were the most shocking, awful messages I have ever seen," she said. "My son called me immediately and was screaming into the phone. He was so terrified."

She said she saw the e-mail messages as a direct threat to her son's safety and took him to a police station immediately to make a report. She added that the family started receiving death threats on Wednesday after Mr Jeyaretnam was confirmed as one of the four candidates in the Punggol East by-election.

Mr Jeyaretnam made a police report here last Friday and spoke about the threats at a press conference. The RP chief, 53, a former hedge fund manager, said they were aimed at forcing him to drop out.

His wife yesterday added that after Mr Jeyaretnam went public with the threats, the family received even more - including a second death threat directed to his Facebook page on Friday at 4am.

"I called him and woke him up. He removed it before anyone could have seen it," she said. "I can't reveal what exactly was written in those threats because I don't want the person to be alerted and leave the country or hinder police investigations."

A police spokesman confirmed that two reports were made, and they "are looking into the matter".

Mrs Jeyaretnam, who had initially planned to travel with her son to Singapore next month, said the trip is now on hold. But despite their fears, she said the family is firmly behind Mr Jeyaretnam in his electoral bid: "We support Kenneth, but I hope that our son can be left out of it."