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Bring Eric Tan back to the party: WP volunteers

Andrew Loh/

credit: Mervin Lee

A group of supporters and volunteers of the Workers' Party (WP) is calling on the party to reinstate Mr Eric Tan back into the party.

The group, which includes volunteers who helped with the party's East Coast GRC team in the May general elections, has circulated a petition which it will send to the party's Central Executive Council (CEC) eventually.

Mr Eric Tan, 55, was the leader of the WP East Coast GRC team which was made up of Mr Gerald Giam, Ms Glenda Han, Mr Png Eng Huat and Mr Mohamed Fazli bin Talip. The team scored 45.17 per cent in the polls, losing to the People's Action Party team led by Mr Lim Swee Say.

The team was offered a Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) seat as it was among the top-scoring losing teams in the elections. The WP decided that Mr Giam, and not Mr Tan, would take up the seat. Mr Tan then resigned from the party, unhappy that he was not chosen to fill the NCMP vacancy.

Mr Tan, a former banker and who had been the party's Treasurer, called the party's decision a "betrayal".

When speaking to TODAY, he said, "I am disappointed that Low (Thia Khiang) and part of the CEC have decided to go against the people's wishes, citing party renewal as their reason. I too, also believe in the renewal of the party but in an orderly manner, with succession plans. But not like this, dropped like a bomb."

In their petition to the CEC, the volunteers say Mr Tan's resignation "has left most of [them] saddened."

"For us to read of such discord within WP has affected our morale and bewilderment at the divisiveness after a glorious victory."

"It is our passionate and sincere petition that the CEC will expand all efforts in bringing Mr Tan back into the party in the interest of party solidarity." The group says it knows and trusts the party will listen to its "collective voice."

Mr Tan was part of the East Coast team in the 2006 general elections as well. He was also the chairman of the Workers’ Party’s Eastern Area Committee and had represented the party in Channel Newsasia's Talking Point programme in March on the new electoral boundaries.

For the 2011 elections, he was the only surviving member of the team and had played a major part in building both East Coast teams for the 2006 and 2011 elections. Mr Giam, who is believed to have been recruited by Mr Tan, described Mr Tan as a "friend and mentor". He said, "He [Eric] is a caring and capable leader, and possesses a wealth of knowledge, particularly in the area of economics and finance." Mr Giam also stated that "the NCMP positions were decided collectively by the party's central executive council".

"All four tyres of the WP vehicle must have the correct pressure in order to travel smoothly and safely," the volunteers' petition says. "The CEC, the cadres, the members and the volunteers all play a role in this. Please hear us and bring Mr Eric Tan back into the WP family so that we, the supporters, can begin our tasks of winning the next election comfortable in the knowledge that WP is a party that listens to the people."

It is now left to the party's CEC to decide if it will take up the appeal by the volunteers.

The WP's candidate for Joo Chiat SMC, Mr Yee Jenn Jong, is the other NCMP from the WP while Mrs Lina Chiam from the Singapore People's Party fills the third position.