The former chairman of the Reform Party (RP), Mr Ng Teck Siong, called for a press conference this evening at Hong Lim Park to address the recent saga within his ex-party. Mr Ng, a long-time supporter of the late Mr J B Jeyaretnam, resigned as chairman of the RP on Monday, 27 April.
Mr Ng, who was allegedly ousted following a Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting, said he did not want to harp on the “differences in the party.” Instead he hopes to rally the opposition and foster unity and “delivering a robust challenge to the PAP.”
However, he could not conceal his criticisms of his ex-party colleagues, saying that the new team headed by new secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam – son of Mr J B Jeyaretnam, who founded the RP – was “weak and infirm of purpose.” Mr Ng expressed regret that “a mis-step had arrived”, referring to his alleged ouster, before the party under him could move to “the next stage”. When asked to elaborate, Mr Ng said the party was about to embark on preparations for the elections.
In a press release on 27 April, the Reform Party said that “a vote of no confidence in Ng Teck Siong as Chairperson of the party was passed by a majority vote of the CEC.” However, Mr Ng today repeatedly denied this. “There was no meeting,” Mr Ng told the gathering at Speakers’ Corner. He said he resigned from the party voluntarily and was not ousted.
Later, when contacted on the phone, Mr Ng explained that he had indeed called for an emergency meeting on 26 April and that four items were on the agenda. He did not elaborate what they were but said that at one point, he called the meeting to a close and left with two other CEC members. When queried if that was when the vote of no confidence in him was held, Mr Ng declined to comment.
Asked why he resigned from the party completely and not stayed on in the CEC or as an ordinary member, he said “the purpose behind it was gone.”
He said that the new leadership had deviated from the ideals, such as truth and justice, set out by its founder. Mr Ng also revealed that three other CEC members have also resigned from the party.
Mr Ng nonetheless expressed his best wishes to the new leadership of the party and wished Mr Jeyaretnam “a lot of luck.” He expressed his hope to work together with the Reform Party “in other forms if we cannot work within the same party.” He also said he hopes the new leadership will carry on the legacy of its founder, Mr JB Jeyaretnam.
Going forward, he said he has 3 options – to form a new party, join an existing party or run in the next elections, due in 2012, as an independent candidate. When asked if any of the opposition parties has invited him to join them, Mr Ng said “yes”, but declined to name them.
Asked if he should retire, Mr Ng said, “If it concerns Singapore’s future and I am healthy, why should I retire?”
*TOC is seeking clarification from the Reform Party on the issue of the vote of no confidence in Mr Ng.