Saturday, July 12, 2008

New Singapore party calls for end to 'elite' rule

SINGAPORE (AFP) — A new political party has called for an end to rule by an elite minority in Singapore, and rejected accusations the opposition would quickly ruin the country if it took power.

The Reform Party was responding to a recent warning to voters by Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew against putting the opposition at the helm of government "in a moment of fickleness or just sheer madness."

"Let me say from here to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, that that is crass arrogance on his part," said the party's secretary general, J.B. Jeyaretnam in a speech to inaugurate the party late Friday.

"I tell him from here, tonight: We've had enough of a minority, of the elite, making all our decisions."

Lee, 84, is widely credited for shepherding the underdeveloped port into one of Asia's wealthiest nations in one generation.

His People's Action Party (PAP) has been in power since 1959 and has all but two elected seats in the 84-member parliament.

The opposition plays only a marginal role in Singapore, but four other parties sent delegations to the Reform Party launch.

Jeyaretnam told AFP he did not know if the parties could unite for the next election due by 2011.

"I don't know. It depends on a number of factors... You know, policies and outlook, and methods," said the lawyer.

Jeyaretnam, then with the Workers' Party, made political history in 1981 when he became the first opposition politician elected to parliament.

He was declared bankrupt in 2001 after failing to pay libel damages to members of the PAP, including a former prime minister.

Last year Jeyaretnam, 82, cleared the bankruptcy, which had prevented him from running for political office.


Edmund Ng
CEO, President
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