Response to ST Article on Formation of Singapore United PartyPublished: 5th January 2021
Yesterday the Straits Times published an article entitled “Former Reform Party chairman Andy Zhu and others form new political party, Singapore United Party” at the end of which they said, “ they had reached out to [me] for comment’. This is yet another example of the tricks perpetrated by the state media in their silly attempts to damage the Reform Party. The article was published on 3 January at 20:35. The journalist reached out to me for comments at 00:55 the next day a full 7 hours later. On behalf of the CEC, I sent the Reform Party’s response to the journalist at 02:10. The ST failed to update the article with our response. This is a minor story as it happens but by leaving the statement that I had been contacted but had not responded the ST is deliberately suggesting that I do not have a reponse and therefore by association that there is some kind of internal rift or implosion within RP. Far from it. We have a fantastic CEC and renewed enthusiasm since GE2020, a new women’s wing and a green manifesto.
In the interests of transparency I reproduce below the ST email and my response: You will see that at the time she wrote this email to me the ST article had already been published. Very poor journailsitc ethics to claim she was working on an article.
Hi Mr Jeyaretnam,
This is Yuen Sin from The Straits Times’ political desk, I hope you are well.
You may be aware that several Reform Party members have left to join a new party, Singapore United Party, led by former RP chairman Andy Zhu. We are working on an article about this and I was wondering if we can get your comments on their departure and the new party – particularly on the perception that SUP is a breakaway faction from the RP?
Thanks, and do let me know if you have any clarifications. Hope to hear from you soon.
I responded as follows:
Dear Yuen Sin
Thank you for your enquiry.
“You may be aware that several Reform Party members have left to join a new party, Singapore United Party, led by former RP chairman Andy Zhu”
Point of fact: Andy Zhu was expelled from RP so it is inaccurate to say that he left. He did not take up his right of appeal. After sanctions were taken against him following an internal Party disciplinary process he hijacked the party’s social media pages to put out his own misleading statements. Luckily Facebook were very helpful in having him removed but it left us with no choice but to expel him. I will note that previously your publication made factual errors and claims probably based on Zhu’s misleading statements from that time.
For accuracy I would ask you to go to Charles Yeo, the Chair, who is a lawyer and who chaired the disciplinary proceedings which were lengthy, robust and fair. I have CC’d him into this email.
“particularly on the perception that SUP is a breakaway faction from the RP”
Yes, there appear to be some former RP members in the new party and I believe it is accurate to say there was a faction led by Andy Zhu. This faction was determined to take Reform Party into a 3-cornered fight in West Coast GRC, against Dr Tan Cheng Bock, in the face of all the evidence that this would be bad for the Reform Party, bad for the Opposition, and bad for the development of democracy in Singapore. In other words bad for our country. Some of those disgruntled members revealed deep-seated animosity against Dr Tan personally which I found difficult to understand. We were all sad to lose West Coast after all the effort and sacrifices made to contest two elections there. But party policy was to cede in favour of opposition unity.
This faction can also be characterised as misjudging the importance of digital campaigning and failing to transition. In particular Andy Zhu misjudged the importance of national airtime, stubbornly refusing to join the Constituency Broadcast and effectively sabotaging it. We know how that ended.
Mr Zhu and his friends, despite every effort, were unable to get Reform Party to engage in a 3-cornered fight against Dr Tan just as they were unable to completely disrupt our campaign in Ang Mo Kio. I don’t feel it is any loss to us nor any gain to the opposition ranks that these disgruntled former members are unable to put their egos aside and move on. We have a marvellous team in our new CEC, ably chaired by Charles Yeo, and we are looking forward to contesting in Ang Mo Kio, Radin Mas and elsewhere at the next election.
For and on behalf of the CEC of the Reform Party