Charles Yeo becomes Reform Party chairman, party to conduct GE2020 post-mortem

SINGAPORE – Criminal defence lawyer Charles Yeo has been appointed chairman of the Reform Party (RP) as part of the party’s renewal following the recent general election.

RP also announced on Wednesday (Aug 5) that oil and gas company director Mahaboob Batcha, 52, is the new party treasurer.

Outgoing chairman Andy Zhu, 37, and outgoing treasurer Noraini Yunus, 52, will both be stepping down from the central executive committee (CEC), said the party in a Facebook post.

But in a sign of internal conflict over the changes, the party made a subsequent Facebook post that said: “This is an undemocratic stance by the 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 (members) are 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.”

The Straits Times understands that Mr Zhu had used the RP Facebook account to make the post, which has since been taken down.

ST has contacted Mr Zhu and RP secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam, 61, for comment on the issues and allegations mentioned in the deleted post.

Mr Yeo, 30, who replaces Mr Zhu as party chair, became somewhat of a household name during the election campaign, after clips of him delivering the Mandarin speech during the constituency political broadcast went viral online.

Mr Mahaboob was formerly the deputy treasurer, and has been on the party’s CEC since 2017. He was unveiled as a candidate ahead of the general election, but did not run eventually.

Mr Zhu, Mr Yeo and Ms Noraini were part of the five-man team that contested Ang Mo Kio GRC, and lost to the People’s Action Party team led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with 28.09 per cent of the votes.

“All appointments to CEC are on an initial probation period and all CEC and office holders must stand for election at Party Conference,” said the party in its post announcing the changes.

The party said the new appointments are “part of its process of preparing the next generation of leaders and renewing the ranks post-GE2020”.

It is also conducting a review of its performance in the July 10 polls, which it expects will take several months.

Mr Yeo, who has been on the party’s CEC since June last year, said: “I am hopeful about the future and pledge to do my best.”

He added that he looks forward to “energising the membership” and encouraging more youth participation.

The party also said that as a businessman, Mr Mahaboob will “competently manage the party’s finances” in line with both external and internal regulations.

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