The Reform Party and Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam issued the following press release following yesterday's extradition hearing for Balldev Naidu:
The Reform Party takes terrorism and terrorism-related offences very seriously which is why we have called for the repeal of the outdated ISA and its replacement by an Act specifically designed to deal with and combat terrorism in its current form. We also completely understand why The U.S. needs to take a firm stance on terrorism. Having said that however, the Balldev I have come to know, since taking over leadership of The Reform Party, is a gentle family man and someone who would never intentionally become involved with terrorists or arms dealers. Even though these alleged incidents pre-date the formation of The Reform Party by several years, Balldev was a loyal supporter of my father, JB Jeyaretnam and I will continue to support him in my personal capacity.
In a way, it is for the best that he should be extradited speedily to the US so that this matter can be resolved as soon as possible. I have confidence in the US judicial system which, unlike Singapore, provides for court-appointed legal representation and trial by jury. Balldev has maintained his innocence throughout and I am hopeful that when this goes to trial he will be fully exonerated.
At the request of Balldev’s wife I have contacted several international human rights organisations such as Amnesty International in the US and UK, the Centre for Constitutional Rights in Washington, and Tamils Against Genocide in Maryland, USA who have taken a great interest in this case and provided help and legal advice. Tamils Against Genocide will work with Balldev’s court-appointed lawyer to see that he receives the best possible legal defence and have set up a support network in Maryland should his family be able to visit. My only hope is that there is a speedy trial so that Balldev can return to his family as soon as possible.
To a family who were, like so many families in Singapore already struggling to make ends meet, the financial effects have been devastating and the emotional impact, particularly upon his children, has been at least as great. I find it deplorable that there is no legal aid available in Singapore for defendants in serious criminal cases unless it is a capital offence. I will continue to do what I can to help Balldev and his family through this incredibly difficult time.
Balldev’s case has had little impact on the activities and popularity of The Reform Party. We continue to receive enormous public support for our meet the people sessions both at our headquarters and on our walkabouts and membership is growing steadily on a weekly basis. As soon as The MDA have satisfied themselves that our designated printer’s Fire Certificate is in order we hope they will finally approve our application for a newsletter named the “New Dawn” so that we can communicate our policies to a wider audience.