Reform Party (Singapore)

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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]
Colours Yellow
0 / 101

The Reform Party is a liberal democratic political party in the Republic of Singapore. According to the party's constitution, it seeks to promote "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 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]

History and political development[edit]

The Reform Party was founded by lawyer and veteran politician Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam. J.B. 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. J.B. Jeyaretnam was formerly the secretary-general of the Workers’ Party from 1971 to 2001.

In 2001, J.B. Jeyaretnam 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 because he perceived that he was not receiving due support from his party colleagues. He had been its long-time 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.

The Reform Party was officially registered on 3 July 2008. J.B. Jeyaretnam was its first, pro-tem Secretary-General.[1] On 30 September 2008, he died following a heart attack. Over a thousand mourners attended his funeral service.[4] J.B. Jeyaretnam's son, Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who lived in UK with his British family and had previously never participated in politics directly, took over as secretary-general in April 2009.

On 8 May 2010, the Reform Party announced its six candidates well in advance of the coming general election. The candidates included Kenneth Jeyaretnam.[5] However 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.[6]

The 2011 Singapore General Election was the party's first election. The party fielded two teams to contest in West Coast GRC and Ang Mo Kio GRC. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is one of the MPs of Ang Mo Kio GRC. Both teams lost to the People’s Action Party (PAP). The Reform Party earned ~35% of the vote in the two constituencies that it contested.[7]

In his first campaign speech in late April 2011, Kenneth Jeyaretnam said 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) would likely open the floodgates to more foreigners to enter Singapore again once they formed the next government.

Objectives and policies[edit]

The slogan on the Reform Party's website states "Transparency, Accountability and Inclusion: A democratic Singapore for Singaporeans."

The main objectives of The Reform Party as spelt out in its constitution are: to maintain and promote an independently appointed judiciary and a fully elected and sovereign parliament; to ensure that every member of society is entitled to political, social and economic rights; and to eliminate poverty by enforcing a fairer and just distribution of wealth.

In its National Day Message 2015 published on 9 August 2015, the party stated, "We need to secure for Singaporeans a fairer distribution of the national wealth by redistributing some of the massive wealth hoarded by the PAP Government." It proposed to do this "without adopting a high tax regime which might damage Singapore’s competitiveness", given the healthy state of Singapore's national finances.

On nomination day for GE2015, the Reform Party proposed a S$500.00 monthly allowance to Singaporean citizens aged 65 years and above.[8]

Organisation and structure[edit]

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.[9] 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.


Kenneth Jeyaretnam has led the party as its secretary-general since 2009.

Electoral performance[edit]

General Election 2011[edit]

The 2011 Singapore General Election was the first election for the Reform Party. The party contested in West Coast GRC and Ang Mo Kio GRC but were not elected.[7]

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 to contest the vacated seat, but he obtained only 1.2% of the valid votes in a rare 4-cornered fight. His election deposit was forfeited. The victory went to Lee Li Lian of the Workers' Party.[10][11]

General Election 2015[edit]

11 candidates of the Reform Party, including Kenneth Jeyaretnam, contested West Coast Group Representation Constituency, Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency and Radin Mas SMC in the 2015 Singapore General Election. Radin Mas SMC contains part of the defunct Anson constituency, J.B. Jeyaretnam's former constituency.[12][13] Roy Ngerng and M Ravi were fielded in Ang Mo Kio GRC in their first appearance in politics. The party did not win in any of the constituencies.

Election results[edit]


Election Seats up for election Seats contested by party Seats won by walkover Contested seats won Contested seats lost Total seats won Change Total votes Share of votes Outcome of election
2011 87 11 0 0 11
0 / 87
Steady 86,294 4.28% no seats
2015 89 11 0 0 11
0 / 89
Steady 59,432 2.63% no seats
Parliament By-elections
Election Seats up for election Seats contested by party Contested seats won Contested seats lost Total votes Share of votes Outcome of election Constituency contested
2013 1 1 0 1 353 1.2 no seats Punggol East SMC

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. ^ "Over 1,000 people turned up at JB Jeyaretnam's funeral". Channel News Asia. MediaCorp. 4 October 2008. 
  5. ^ "Reform Party unveils six election candidates" Yawning Bread, 9 May 2010
  6. ^ "Several key members of Reform Party resign" [1], 23 February 2011
  7. ^ a b [2] 2011 General Election's result
  8. ^ Mediacorp Channel 5 News, 9 pm, 1 September 2015
  9. ^ "The cadre system, our biggest obstacle to democracy". Reinventing the Rice Bowl. Kenneth Jeyaretnam. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "RP picks Kenneth Jeyaretnam as candidate for by-election". Channel NewsAsia. 15 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "WP's Lee wins Punggol East by-election". Channel NewsAsia. 26 January 2013. 
  12. ^ Ong, Justin (27 August 2015). "Reform Party unveils slate of candidates for West Coast, Radin Mas". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "GE2015: RP unveils Ang Mo Kio team led by M Ravi". TODAY Online. 28 August 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 

External links[edit]