Ex-PSP member sues party for alleged wrongful dismissal, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper
Singapore

Ex-PSP member sues party for alleged wrongful dismissal

With both sides disputing the facts laid out in statements, she applies for case to be heard in open court

The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) is being sued by a former member after a bitter falling-out that was made public in January but which court documents now show dates back to the general election in July last year.

Ms Kala Manickam, who contested the polls as part of the PSP's losing slate in Nee Soon GRC, opened proceedings in July this year against the party founded by former People's Action Party parliamentarian Tan Cheng Bock.

She wants the PSP to declare that the termination of her membership last December was wrongful and invalid. Ms Kala, 54, believes her issues with the PSP go back to when resources and support for her were cut off at the height of the hustings.

The party, in countering her lawsuit, has rejected this and accused her instead of being a disruptive and uncooperative figure during and after the election.

Ms Kala, an adult educator and former army officer, is further seeking a refund of $10,000 that she says she contributed towards election expenses, such as for printing fliers and pamphlets.

With both sides disputing the facts laid out in statements made by each other, Ms Kala has also applied for the case to be heard in open court, which could include witness evidence.

In one of seven affidavits filed by PSP members, party chief Francis Yuen said there was no basis for Ms Kala's $10,000 claim, which is collected from each election candidate. He pointed out that her own election expenses had run up to $33,627, with the party paying the balance of $23,627.

Two of Ms Kala's fellow Nee Soon GRC candidates - Mr Damien Tay and Mr Taufik Supan - cited how she "went about doing her own things", like going on solo walkabouts and amassing a volunteer pool for herself, in the run-up to the polls. These alleged events led to a petition signed in August last year by 17 PSP members - including Ms Kala's election agent - and one volunteer, calling on the party leadership to remove her from the Nee Soon team.

In Ms Kala's affidavit, she highlighted various incidents from August to December last year that escalated to the point of her membership being terminated. These included her "abrupt" removal from constituency-related work and Dr Tan first telling her to "move away" from Nee Soon activities before deciding, together with the party's central executive committee (CEC), that she should leave the PSP altogether.

Dr Tan, in his affidavit, said her "uncompromising" attitude ultimately left the party with no choice. He pointed to a meeting last November where she was "confrontational", as if "raring for a fight"; and "aggressively questioned... proof of her wrongdoings by shouting: 'What proof? What proof?'."

Ms Kala's letter of termination, dated Dec 24, cited breaches of party discipline, disrespectful conduct and insubordination, among other reasons.

She appealed against the decision twice - in December and February - but was rejected by the CEC the first time, and by 55 out of 66 voting cadres on her second try.

In January, Ms Kala posted on Facebook that her membership had "lapsed", while claiming "several glaring lapses and shortcomings" in the PSP. She did not mention the termination letter.

In her affidavit, she said discussions on her fate in the party were opaque, and added she was not given a chance to speak for herself. In response to her application for the case to be heard in open court, Mr Yuen said in an affidavit that Ms Kala was hankering after a "public spectacle" and "media attention".

But Ms Kala said in another affidavit that her lawyers had first engaged the PSP in May to try to resolve the matter amicably. It was only after four letters and around two months of correspondence that she was compelled to commence court proceedings in July, she said.

Singapore Politics