The Reform Party announced in a press release that two new appointments, including Party Chair, have been introduced into its Central Executive Committee. However, the out-going Party Chair has taken issue with the “undemocratic” direction undertaken by the party’s secretary-general – Kenneth Jeyaretnam.
The press release published on Wednesday (5 Aug) on the Reform Party’s (RP) official site revealed the new appointments who will be taking over the roles of Party Chair and Treasurer.
“(It is) part of (our) process of preparing the next generation of leaders and renewing the ranks post General Election (GE) 2020.”
Charles Yeo slated to be new Party Chair amidst a Protection from Harassment Act lawsuit filed against him
Charles Yeo was volunteer leader during GE2020 and had also volunteered with the Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC) team in GE2015.
The criminal lawyer has been on the Central Executive Committee (CEC) since 2019.
In response to this new designation, Mr Yeo, 30, said: “I am hopeful about the future and pledge to do my best.”
He also “looks forward to energising the membership and encouraging more youth participation”.
A harassment lawsuit was filed last week against Mr Yeo for allegations made against lawyer Imran Rahim on the grounds of sexual misconduct, and for making racially charged comments about the latter.
The allegations were put forth by Mr Yeo between 21 and 24 July.
The date of the first court hearing has been fixed for the end of August.
Mr Yeo also made quite a splash during the GE campaigning period due to his viral awkward speech delivered in Mandarin during the political broadcast.
Signs of internal conflict between out-going Party Chair Andy Zhu, and Secretary-General Kenneth Jeyaretnam
The press release was originally posted onto RP’s Facebook page as well. In a follow-up post to that by out-going Party Chair Andy Zhu, he said: “This is an undemocratic stance by the Secretary-General (SG) Kenneth Jeyaretnam to make this announcement of new appointments while the matters and allegations against the Party Chair and Treasurer are not finalised.
“To my understanding, the CEC is deliberating over the issues. In the meantime, there should not be any new appointments until a decision has been taken and the party constitution allows 14 days for the rights of appeal.”
His comments suggest that these appointments were made without the consultation and input from the CEC and put forth unilaterally by Mr Jeyaretnam.
However in an update, Mr Jeyaretnam has refuted Mr Zhu’s claim that these decisions were made without approval from the party’s CEC.
“All I can say is that (Mr Zhu) was removed by a unanimous vote of the CEC,” the former remarked.
Mr Zhu, a 37-year-old marketing director of a real estate agency, began his political journey with RP in 2008 as a party member. He had contested in West Coast GRC in GE2011 and GE2015.
Both Mr Zhu’s post and the post about the press release have since been taken down from RP’s Facebook page, although the press release was reposted again.
Mr Zhu reposted his comments onto his personal Facebook page.
Mahaboob Batasha to take over Noraini Yunus as Treasurer
According to the press release, Mahabob Batasha, an oil and gas company director, has been on the CEC since December 2017.
The 52-year-old was the former deputy treasurer for RP and was slated to run alongside Mr Yeo and Mr Zhu in Ang Mo Kio GRC but withdrew from the contestment.
“As a business man he expects to competently manage the party’s finances in line with both external and internal regulation and looks forward to working with the other CEC office holders in advancing the party’s interests,” the release stated.
Noraini Yunus, a 52-year-old telemarketer who is the out-going treasurer, has held the role since August 2015. She contested in the Ang Mo Kio team in GE2020 as well.
The team lost to the People’s Action Party team, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, garnering a vote percentage of 28.09.
However, added as a note, the press release stated that “all appointments to CEC are on an initial probation period and all CEC and office holders must stand for election at the Party Conference” before it is officialised in accordance with the Party Constitution.