SINGAPORE - The vice-chairman of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) founded by Dr Tan Cheng Bock, has left the party, about six weeks after taking over the senior post.
Ms Michelle Lee, who has been in the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC) since its founding last year, quit to spend more time with her family, the party said on Thursday (March 5).
"We understand that there have been rumours going around on Michelle's departure, in particular, that she was asked to leave and there were disagreements on the appointment of the new CEC members," it said in a statement to The Straits Times.
"The PSP and Michelle would like to clarify that these rumours are false and that all official information regarding the Party will be through the party's official online channels."
The party said that Ms Lee maintains a "cordial relationship" with PSP members and leadership, and is always welcome to attend its events.
"The PSP is grateful for Michelle's contributions and wish her and her family all the best for the future."
Attempts to contact Ms Lee by ST were unsuccessful.
Dr Tan, the PSP Secretary-General, had announced Ms Lee's new position during the party's inaugural New Year dinner celebration on Jan 17 this year, where he also unveiled four new CEC members and new assistant secretary-general, Mr Leong Mun Wai.
Ms Lee took over from former vice-chairman, Mr K. S. Singam, who stepped down for health reasons.
A PSP spokesman told ST that the party has not yet named a new vice-chairman.
It is the second leadership change in the PSP since it was registered on March 28 last year.
Ms Lee was previously an ordinary member in the CEC, and spoke during the party's launch on Aug 3 last year at Swissotel Merchant Court.
She had contested the 2011 general election in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC under the Singapore Democratic Party banner.
When asked if her departure would affect the party's preparations ahead of the next general election, which has to be called by April next year, a party spokesman said there were members capable of filling the various positions Ms Lee held in the party.
"It does not affect our preparations. We are a team, so even as one person has left a role, someone else will be able to fill it up."
Associate Professor of Law Eugene Tan of the Singapore Management University said that while the departures of CEC members in opposition parties generally do not cause much of a stir, the PSP is different as there are high expectations from the public as as Dr Tan is the founder and party secretary-general.
"The vice-chairman of the newest kid on the block quitting within two months of taking office certainly raises questions," he said. "Nobody will buy the reason that she wants to spend more time with family, even if it's the truth."
Prof Tan said that Ms Lee's resignation reflects that the party is "still finding its internal equilibrium". With the general election looming, matters such as who will be fielded as candidates and election campaign strategy, will come to the fore.
He said that if its internal issues were not addressed, it could be the first of more departures, noting that in January, former assistant secretary-general Anthony Lee also stepped down citing personal reasons. He remains an ordinary CEC member.