8 things we learnt about Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam from his speech at West Coast rally

Pretty surprising facts about the Reform Party’s leader.

He Ruiming| Eisabess Chee| September 06, 10:22 AM

EDIT (9/9/15): A previous version of this article stated that Kenneth Jeyaretnam read law at Cambridge University. This is incorrect. The article has been updated to reflect this change. 

All photos by Sean Yeo unless otherwise stated.

It was the second rally by the opposition Reform Party at the Clementi Stadium in West Coast GRC last night (Sept. 5), after their stuttering start on Sept 4.

Here is a photo of the largely middle-age men audience last night.

20150905-RP_WestCoastRally-SeanYeo-17 Photo by Sean Yeo

Anyway, we focused on the RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who leads his West Coast GRC team for a second time against the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) team led by Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang.

Here are eight things we learnt about the RP chief from his speech:

1. He’s quite a shy person...

“I have to say I find it quite hard to talk about myself,” said the Reform Party chief. “I am quite shy and a private individual.”

Citing this, he went on to mention how, while working at a Japanese bank, he met someone who “looked past [his] shyness”. That someone is now his wife.

2. But he portrays himself as a selfless figure

“Being a politician onstage doesn’t come naturally to me. I don’t know why but I find it easier to fight for others than to stand up for myself.”

20150905-RP_WestCoastRally-SeanYeo-7 Photo by Sean Yeo

3. He secretly enjoyed the riots in the 1960s

But perhaps not for the reasons you might assume. Jeyaratnam confessed that he liked the riots only because his parents, both lawyers, would return home earlier as a result.

20150905-RP_WestCoastRally-SeanYeo-5 Photo by Sean Yeo

4. He read economics at Cambridge University on a FMS (Father-Mother Scholarship).

However his mom had passed away from cancer by then, so it was just a “Father-Father Scholarship” instead.

Even so, Jeyaratnam still understood that he came from a “privileged background”, having had lawyers for parents.

5. He has a scar on his face

When he was in London, he was mugged at knifepoint for a $15.00 watch his father, the late J B Jeyaratnam, had given him. When he refused to hand it over, the robber slashed his face.

6. Minister S Iswaran (of West Coast GRC) made him feel like a small boy again

He felt like he was back in school once more when Iswaran called him over and lectured him on a potential error that could disqualify them.

7. Especially since he wasn’t a particularly obedient young boy

He would wear “two underpants” when he was young in anticipation of any caning or disciplining that may take place.

8. He might be a fan of Game of Thrones

The man said:

“If elected, I will be your champion in parliament. If I am to be effective, you need to put me into parliament.”


We’d like to think he was a making a reference to Game of Throne’s Oberyn Martell, who fought for Tyrion Lannister in Season 4 (though we know how that ended)

...and he did give an epic line that would have fit right in in Game Of Thrones

“On polling day, remember the scorching sun.”


Bonus fact: Oberyn Martell’s House in Game of Thrones is Martell, and its sigil is a red sun pierced by a golden spear.   It's words are "Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken", pretty apt, given the hardship House Jeyaretnam   the Jeyaretnam family has endured throughout the years.

This is what it looks like, next to the RP logo: (Martell's on the left, RP on the right)




Coincidence? Don’t be naive.

Related articles:

5 things the Reform Party said at their GE2015 rally that made us go, “Whut.”

Reform Party candidate Jesse Loo said ‘vote for Workers’ Party’


Click here to go to our GE2015 microsite for the juiciest election-related news on Mothership.sg.