SINGAPORE — In a recent incident, Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Secretary General of the Reform Party, claimed suspicious individuals hounded him during a visit to Yishun Chong Pang Market on Thursday (29 Jun).
According to Mr Jeyaretnam, he and his team were closely shadowed and filmed by unidentified individuals throughout their visit. The group allegedly engaged in several provocative behaviors, including making unsolicited offers and attempting to intimidate residents trying to interact with the Reform Party members.
“One of them offered to buy me a drink without introducing herself. I declined. Then they sat at a neighbouring table clearly to intimidate residents speaking to us,” reported Mr Jeyaretnam to The Online Citizen Asia (TOC).
When Mr Jeyaretnam tried to engage one of these individuals about the ongoing controversy termed “Ridoutgate,” the man responded by questioning if Mr Jeyaretnam believed the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) was corrupt.
Meanwhile, the group continued to record the Reform Party members, even as they attempted to leave the area in a taxi.
The individuals “even filmed the taxi and the number plate when we got in,” said Mr Jeyaretnam, noting that they would hide behind cars or pillars whenever he turned to look in their direction.
At no point did the individuals identify as members of the press or residents of the Nee Soon GRC.
This harassment took place in the Nee Soon Constituency, a ward headed by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Law.
Over the past month, Mr Jeyaretnam himself has been a prominent figure in the news due to his expose on the rental of colonial bungalows by Shanmugam and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.
It should be noted that this is not the first time that opposition members have experienced such harassment during their community walkabouts. Similar incidents of aggressive behaviour from People’s Action Party (PAP) grassroots activists have been reported by opposition parties contesting in Nee Soon GRC.
It bears noting that the PAP Nee Soon branch posted an image of Mr Jeyaretnam during his walkabout.
During the 2015 election, the Workers’ Party, which contested in the ward, reported their volunteers being hounded by PAP activists. They were subjected to hostile actions such as being followed and having pamphlets that were distributed removed from residents’ doors.
When TOC turned up at one of the walkabouts, PAP activists could be seen shadowing the WP volunteers and monitoring their actions.
These incidents highlight a recurring theme of opposition parties experiencing harassment while trying to engage with the public, raising questions about political culture and the level of respect for differing political views in Singapore.