Singapore GE2020: Reform Party will carry on the fight like JBJ did, says Kenneth Jeyaretnam

(Clockwise from top left) Reform Party candidates Charles Yeo, Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Darren Soh, Andy Zhu and Noraini Yunus, who are contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC, in their e-rally yesterday.
(Clockwise from top left) Reform Party candidates Charles Yeo, Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Darren Soh, Andy Zhu and Noraini Yunus, who are contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC, in their e-rally yesterday. PHOTO: REFORM PARTY/FACEBOOK

Pointing to his late father J.B. Jeyaretnam's tenacity in fighting for a seat in Parliament, Reform Party (RP) secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam vowed in an e-rally yesterday that he "will not give up" in his own battle for Ang Mo Kio GRC and for Singaporeans.

The late Mr Jeyaretnam, who was more popularly known as JBJ, was the first opposition politician elected into the Singapore Parliament after independence in 1965.

Noting that his father had lost seven times before winning the 1981 by-election in Anson, the younger Mr Jeyaretnam, 61, said: "I will not give up until I have made a difference... rest in peace, dad. There are many of us here carrying on the fight, trying to make it right for your beloved Singapore."

In his 11-minute speech, he also noted that the RP's proposal was "superior" to the ruling People's Action Party's (PAP) and that the Government's economic package for the Covid-19 crisis was "inadequate".

RP team members Andy Zhu, 37, Darren Soh, 52, Noraini Yunus, 52, and Charles Yeo, 30, also touched on issues that Singaporeans face, such as lower incomes and unemployment owing to the Covid-19 crisis, competition from foreigners for jobs, and the plight of the elderly working in menial jobs.

Mr Zhu, the party's chairman, said there is "something not right in how the incumbent is managing our country", noting that RP's plan includes introducing a minimum wage and suspending the goods and services tax till next year.

The opposition party, which is contesting in Ang Mo Kio against the PAP team led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and also in Radin Mas SMC, has seen its election campaign littered with mishaps.

On Tuesday, its candidate for Radin Mas, Mr Kumar Appavoo, missed his turn to address voters in the constituency political broadcast.

Last Friday, only two members of the Ang Mo Kio team - Mr Yeo and Ms Noraini - participated in the party broadcast. Mr Jeyaretnam is serving a mandatory 14-day stay-home notice after returning from Britain, Mr Soh was ill that day and Mr Zhu was not allowed into the recording studio after "rushing from another place".

 
 
 

All five participated in yesterday's e-rally, which attracted over 3,000 viewers, on the party's Facebook page. Mr Yeo, who became a meme after his Mandarin party broadcast speech, was a clear favourite with viewers, with some requesting that he speak in Mandarin.

Reminding voters that they can love their country and still vote for the opposition, Mr Jeyaretnam said: "Don't make the mistake thinking that the PAP is the same thing as your country because it isn't. You can love Singapore and still hold your government to account."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2020, with the headline 'Reform Party will carry on the fight like JBJ did: Kenneth Jeyaretnam'. Print Edition | Subscribe