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Discrimination alleged in WP resignation

Press Statement by Sajeev Kamalasanan on Resignation from The Workers’ Party May 13, 2012

With immediate effect, I regret to announce my resignation as a member of The Workers’ Party (WP). The reason for my resignation is my dissatisfaction with the WP’s cadreship selection system.

I joined WP as an ordinary member in 2006 following the 2006 General Elections, believing that the party was a credible and alternative voice for Singaporeans. Due to work and other commitments, I was, however, inactive and did not contribute to the party in any significant way until a phone call from the party’s Chairman, Ms Sylvia Lim, about six weeks before the 2011 General Elections. The party was looking to field an Indian candidate in Nee Soon GRC and Ms Sylvia requested me to step forward. It was an unexpected but important request and after due consideration, I turned her down as I felt that I was not the right person for it. However, Ms Sylvia persisted, saying that the party was in urgent need for an Indian candidate for this GRC (the two other Indian candidates Mr Pritam Singh and Mr Somasundaram were fielded for Aljunied and Moulmein-Kallang GRCs). I finally relented as I agreed with her vision of doing something worthwhile for our country and democracy. With my wife’s support, I immediately put all my family and work commitments aside and got right into the campaign and electioneering foray. The WP Nee Soon GRC team went on to clinch a respectable 41.6% of the votes and I was happy to have played a part in giving Nee Soon residents the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in the general elections.

After the general elections, I was selected to be a member for the Aljunied Constituency Committee (AJCC) - Serangoon Division, under Ms Sylvia Lim. Every week, I helped out at her (Meet-the-People sessions) MPS and was also roped into the division’s grassroots events. The highlight of my contribution was when I was given the responsibility of a Chairperson for the Aljunied GRC’s first Deepavali event celebration in 2011. At the party level, I was also active at the weekend Hammer sales. Around CNY 2012, I had to stop my volunteer work at her MPS sessions as I started attending a part time course which coincided with the day and timing of the MPS sessions.

While I never did expect any formal recognition for my contributions towards the party, I was disappointed to see most of the 2011 ex-candidates and ordinary members around me being nominated and given party cadreship quite easily following the general elections. I had also heard from existing cadre members that Ms Sylvia had privately made reference to a group of “problematic” ex-candidates that are not given cadreship and I started wondering if I was one of them. I finally questioned Ms Sylvia about why she never considered nominating me for party cadreship and was not satisfied with her explanations:

1) That it has been the party’s experience that Indians tend to leave after getting party cadreship; and

2) That (she had wanted to nominate me but) I had abruptly stopped contributing at her MPS sessions.

I feel that it is unfair to consider all Indians as uncommitted to the party and if this has been WP’s experience, the right thing for WP is to reflect on what it might be doing to contribute to this and perhaps arrest this problem if it considers and aspires itself to be the alternative voice of all Singaporeans.

With this mindset, I see no possibility of me being able to play any meaningful and constructive part in the party, save for being a showpiece for the minority candidate ticket come elections time. I feel let down and betrayed by the WP leadership, in whom I had put my trust and faith in, and for whom I made substantial sacrifice by stepping forward to serve. I therefore have no choice but to part ways with WP.

Thank you.
Sajeev Kamalasanan

Editor's note: TOC understands that apart from Mr Kamalasanan, other GE 2011 candidates who were not made cadres include - Mr L Somasundaram (Moulmein-Kallang GRC), Mr Watson Chong Cham Weng (Nee Soon GRC), Ms Angela Faye Oon (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Mohamad Fazli Bin Talip (East Coast GRC). Mr Fazli has since resigned from the party on 27th Feb 2012.