Disgruntled opposition party members consider legal action
Agence France Presse
June 7, 2001

A DISGRUNTED faction within Singapore's Workers' Party is considering legal action to settle a row over the validity of an annual general meeting which saw veteran MP J.B. Jeyaretnam replaced as leader.

The party, which provides two of the three opposition MPs in the 93-seat Singapore parliament, is split over whether there was a quorum at last month's meeting

The division comes amid attempts to unite the city-state's tiny opposition ranks ahead of a general election which must be called by August 2002 but is widely expected to be held as early as September this year.

A complaint by angered members of the Workers' Party to the Registrar of Societies has been rejected on the grounds that the issue is an "internal matter," the Straits Times reported June 7.

The dissatisfied faction, led by Goh Yew Chye, were told by the registrar they could either take legal action or use the existing party machinery to resolve the dispute.

The party's new secretary-general Low Thia Khiang has also told Goh that if he thinks the AGM breached the consitution he could challenge it in court.

Remaining silent on the issue is Jeyaretnam, who announced before the meeting that he was stepping down after 30 years at the helm.

Asked if he would remain a card-carrying member of the Workers' Party, Jeyaretnam told AFP: "You'll have to wait. At the moment I'm still a member of the Workers' Party, so wait patiently until nomination day."

Goh said he would discuss with party cadres whether they should call an extraordinary general meeting in an attempt to resolve the row, take legal action or resign.

Low told AFP that 31 of the 60 party members attended the AGM and there was no quorum stated in the constitution.

Jeyaretnam and Low give the Workers' Party two of the three opposition MPs in the 93-seat parliament dominated by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP).

The third opposition MP is Singapore People's Party head Chiam See Tong who is attemping form a coalition of parties to challenge the PAP on a single Singapore Democratic Alliance ticket.