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 for disambiguation.
The Reform Party
革新党
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
Parliament
0 / 99
Website
reform.sg

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]

History and political development[edit]

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

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. 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 took over as secretary-general in April 2009.

On 8 May 2010, breaking tradition in Singapore politics where election candidates are generally only announced near the nomination date and after the electoral boundaries are confirmed, 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 the West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and the 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.

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.

"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. Kenneth Jeyaretnam also criticised the People’s Action Party (PAP) for failing to improve the lives of ordinary Singaporeans as their median incomes had remained stagnant for years.

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.

Organization 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.[7] 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.

Leadership[edit]

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

Electoral performance[edit]

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

Reform Party Candidates in General Election 2011[edit]

West Coast GRC[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 GRC[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)

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. The victory went to Lee Li Lian of the Workers' Party.

General Election 2015[edit]

11 candidates of the Reform Party, including Kenneth Jeyaretnam, will contest two Group Representation Constituencies and Radin Mas SMC in the Singapore General Election 2015. Radin Mas SMC contains part of the defunct Anson constituency, J.B. Jeyaretnam's former constituency.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "About Us" http://reform.sg/?page_id=575
  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. ^ "The cadre system, our biggest obstacle to democracy". Reinventing the Rice Bowl. Kenneth Jeyaretnam. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 

External links[edit]

  • Reform Party – Official website
  • [2] - Reform Party's Official Facebook site
  • [3] - Kenneth Jeyaretnam's Facebook site
  • [4] - Reform Party TV on YouTube