Looks like sacked Progress Singapore Party former election candidate Kala Manickam isn’t going down without a fight.
A member of the Nee Soon GRC team during GE2020, Kala’s party membership was terminated in December last year.
Now she is suing the PSP, claiming wrongful dismissal, and seeking to claw back S$10,000 which she says was her contribution towards election expenses.
The party has claimed that Kala was dismissed as a “last resort” move because she was consistently uncooperative to the point of being insubordinate, according to court documents.
Interestingly, affidavits from Nee Soon team mates Damien Tay and team mate Muhd Taufik suggest that they had been bullied by Kala throughout the election campaign.
Tay, who was leader of the team, claimed that Kala demanded that things be done her way with not regards for others’ opinions, and would not join the team during morning coffeeshop meetings and walkabouts
Taufik claims that she went on walkabouts with her own volunteers and only turned up for two team walkabouts during the nine days of campaigning.
She was also accused of calling Tay a “lousy leader” and arranging her own walkabout with PSP chairman Dr Tan Cheng Bock and prominent party member Lee Hsien Yang behind Tay’s back.
The PSP claims that Kala caused so much problems that 17 party members petitioned in August last year for her to be sacked.
Dr Tan, in a separate affidavit, said that Kala was given the boot because she was “uncompromising”, even though she was “resourceful, outspoken, and had strong fighting spirit”.
He added that in November last year, 3 CEC members met Kala in an attempt at reconciliation, but her conduct was “far from conciliatory” and insisted that she had done nothing wrong.
“I recall that when (Kala) entered the meeting room on 25 November 2020, she appeared composed but confrontational, as if she was raring for a fight… Each time any of us tried to stop her to say something, she would shout over us and continue with an angry spiel about the wrongdoings of the other members of the Nee Soon GRC team. (Kala) then aggressively questioned if we had any proof of her wrongdoings by shouting, ‘WHAT PROOF? WHAT PROOF?'”
The meeting ended with a CEC member asked to speak to Kala privately to propose a reconciliation.
However, Kala allegedly proposed her own conditions, which included her continuing to be a member of the Nee Soon GRC team.
The CEC then held a meeting, during which it declined to accede to Kala’s conditions and asked her to resign.
As she did not do so, her membership was terminated on 24 December last year, with Dr Tan stating in her termination letter that her conduct during the November meeting was “was disrespectful and tantamount to insubordination”.
Kala had subsequently appealed on several occasions to be allowed back in, but at the party conference in March this year, 66 out of 71 cadre members voted to reject her appeal.
Kala has not publicly commented on allegations about her behaviour.
However, she has previously accused PSP leaders of refusing to listen to members’ feedback.
In January this year, she posted a message on her personal Facebook page, stating:
“I am an ex-candidate of PSP for Nee Soon GRC. Since the last election, I noticed several glaring lapses and shortcomings in the Party. I duly and dutifully highlighted these to the management only to see my feedback being ignored time-and-time again. The final straw was when I highlighted the misinformation a prominent fellow party member made on Covid-19. Once again, my feedback was ignored. I am also not aware of any action taken against the Party member. PSP has also failed to publicly clarify its position on Covid-19 relating to matter like vaccinations, masking-up, safe-distancing, opening-up the economy, etc. My membership with PSP lapsed with effect from 31 Dec 2020.”
In his affidavit, PSP sec-gen Francis Yuen stated that Kala’s application to be compensated S$10,000 has “no basis”.
Yuen said that each candidate contributed S$10,000 towards the PSP’s election expenses as the party did not have enough funds to cover all such expenses, and also to prove that they were serious about contesting.
He added that Kala’s expenses came up to S$33,627, out of which the paid S$23,637.
The case has been transferred from the High Court and is now pending before the State Courts.