Reform Party (Singapore)

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This article is about the Singaporean political party. For parties in other countries with the same name, see Reform Party.
The Reform Party
Leader Kenneth Jeyaretnam
Chairman Andy Zhu
Spokesperson Secretary General and Chairperson
Founded 3 July 2008
Headquarters 18A Smith Street
Singapore 058932
Newspaper The New Dawn
Youth wing Young Reformers
Ideology Liberalism, Liberal Democracy[1]
National affiliation Singapore
Colours Yellow
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The Reform Party is a liberal democratic political party in the Republic of Singapore that seeks to establish and maintain a fully democratic government. The party promotes political, social and economic reform; the restoration of full human rights; a fairer and just distribution of wealth with the elimination of poverty; an independently appointed judiciary and a fully elected and sovereign parliament. Its stated philosophy is "That every member of the society is born with fundamental rights which cannot be abrogated... and that it is the paramount duty of the society to promote the human dignity of its every single member."[2]

It was founded by the opposition veteran Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam and officially registered on 3 July 2008. JBJ, as he is popularly known, died three months later on 7 September 2008.[3]

The Reform Party is unique among Singaporean political parties, both government and opposition, in that its party structure does not follow a cadre based system of political organisation.[4] The party constitution states that the Party Conference is the supreme governing authority.[2] The first full Conference was in 2012, where the pro-tem CEC were ratified. Andy Zhu Laicheng was voted chairman and Kenneth Jeyaretnam was voted Secretary General.


Party Secretary-General Kenneth Jeyaretnam (with microphone) speaking at a rally at Speakers' Corner on 15 January 2011

The Reform Party was created by lawyer and politician Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam. Jeyaretnam was the first opposition candidate to be elected Member of Parliament under the Workers' Party of Singapore banner after a period of about 16 years when not a single opposition candidate in Singapore won a seat.

In 2001, he was successfully sued for libel by Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong and was made to pay total damages of S$565,000 and court costs of S$270,000. After missing a damages payment by one day, he was declared bankrupt, disbarred and barred from participating in elections. He resigned from the Workers' Party of Singapore where he had been secretary-general. He authored the books Make it Right for Singapore and The Hatchet Man of Singapore and was often seen promoting his books outside Centrepoint, a shopping centre on Orchard Road. He was discharged from bankruptcy in 2007.

Jeyaretnam then formed the Reform Party, which was officially registered on 3 July 2008. Jeyaretnam was its first, pro-tem Secretary-General.[1]

On 30 September 2008, he died following a heart attack, with a funeral service attended by over 1,000.[5]

As of 2012, the party was headed by Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who was voted in by the CEC to succeed Ng Teck Siong, Jeyaretnam's immediate successor. In an interview in 2010, Kenneth Jeyaretnam explained that when he took over the Reform Party, it was "quite in a bad state".[6] Ng rejected these claims and claimed that the party was in good shape before he resigned.

The party participated in its first election during the 2011 Singapore General Election but did not win a seat, earning ~35% of the vote in the two constituencies that it contested.

General Elections 2011[edit]

The 2011 Singapore General Election was the first election for the Reform Party, contesting two districts.

Lead up to General Elections 2011[edit]

On 8 May 2010, breaking tradition in Singapore politics where election candidates are announced near the election and after the electoral boundaries are confirmed, the Reform Party announced its six candidates for the coming election. The candidates included Kenneth Jeyaretnam.[7]

Early 2011 resignations[edit]

Several members of the Reform Party switched camps in early 2011. They included James Teo, J. Sivalingam; Justin Ong, Jeannette Aruldoss and Tony Tan, who had been slated to be candidates. Others who left included Hazel Poa, Samantha De Silva, Gan Theng Wei, Nicole Seah and Tan Tee Seng.[8]

Reform Party Candidates in General Election 2011[edit]

West Coast constituency[edit]
  • Kenneth Jeyaretnam (Economist, Secretary General and former Hedge Fund Manager)
  • Andy Zhu Lai Cheng (Property Manager)
  • Kumar Appavoo (Company Director)
  • Frankie Low Chiak Huan (Businessman)
  • Ho Soak Harn (Scholar and Researcher)
Ang Mo Kio constituency[edit]
  • Alex Tan Zhi Xiang (Financial Adviser)
  • Arthero Lim Tung Hee (Film Producer)
  • Vignes Ramachandran (Educator)
  • Lim Zi Rui (Undergraduate)
  • Mohamed Mansor bin Abdul Rahman (Unionist)
  • Osman bin Sulaiman (Human Resource Supervisor)


In his first campaign speech in late April 2011, Jeyaretnam said the objective of the Reform Party was to win a few seats in the coming election, adding that competition in politics would lead to better and more intelligent policies for Singapore. He also noted that the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) will likely open the floodgates to more foreigners to enter Singapore again once they formed the next government.

Already you can see that. The Reform Party was the first to talk about how the government's track record was hollow. They always talk about the high rate of economic growth, but the economic growth is created just by bringing in cheap foreign labour. It is not created by raising the incomes of Singaporeans," he said.

Jeyaretnam also criticised the PAP for failing to improve the lives of ordinary Singaporeans as their median incomes had remained stagnant for years, attributing this to the PAP's open-door policies to immigrants.

If at this election you don't take action now, you will expect the floodgates to open again," he warned.

As of 2011 foreigners comprised 40% of the island nation's population, up from 14% in 1990. Of the remaining 60% who are citizens, an increasing number are immigrants. Jeyaretnam took the stance that the 2011 election might be the last opportunity for native Singaporeans to reclaim ownership of their country instead of being relegated to minority status.

By Election 2013[edit]

A by-election in Punggol East Single Member Constituency was held on 26 January 2013 after the resignation of former parliamentary speaker Michael Palmer from the People's Action Party on 12 December 2012. The Reform Party fielded Secretary General Kenneth Jeyaretnam in the vacated seat, but he lost his deposit after obtaining only 1.2% of valid votes. The victory went to Lee Li Lian of the Workers' Party.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About Us"
  2. ^ a b "Our Constitution". 
  3. ^ Geoffrey Robertson (7 October 2008). "Joshua Jeyaretnam". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "The cadre system our biggest obstacle to democracy". Reinventing the Rice Bowl. Kenneth Jeyaretnam. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Over 1,000 people turned up at JB Jeyaretnam's funeral". Channel News Asia (MediaCorp). 4 October 2008. 
  6. ^ "I am my own man: Kenneth Jeyaretnam" Today Online, 8 April 2010
  7. ^ "Reform Party unveils six election candidates" Yawning Bread, 9 May 2010
  8. ^ "Several key members of Reform Party resign" [1], 23 February 2011

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