October 1, 2008

So did you sigh when you heard JBJ passed away? Did you shake your head in wistful regret? Or did you exclaim, “Oh, what a shame!”; “End of an era!”; “What a fighter!” or some other dreadful cliché? Did you bemoan the fact that there will never be anyone like him?


If you did, ask yourself some questions. Did you ever vote for the Workers’ Party? Did you ever buy the Hammer from JBJ as he shouted “Make it right for Singapore!”? Did you ever defend his forceful rhetoric in polite cocktail parties? Did you ever attempt to find out how to ease him out of bankruptcy? Did you ever cheer when he screamed for democracy and human rights? Did you ever roll your eyes when the PAP called him “destructive” and “irrelevant”?


If the answer is ‘no’ to all of the above, congratulations. You belong to the community of politically correct, ideologically fashionable yet completely useless and undeserving Singaporeans. You are a two-legged Pavlov dog salivating in national unison with The Straits Times and PAP as they shed a bucket load of crocodile tears.


At least MM Lee Kuan Yew is honest. He did not like the man. His dislike was immensely personal. They were going for each other’s throats. And if MM Lee comes out and pays his respects to JBJ you know he is doing it despite knowing him, despite disliking him, despite trying to destroy him.


What about you? You didn’t even know him. You didn’t even bother to support his cause. And guess what, deep down inside, you know you didn’t really care what he stood for. And yet you have the cheek to mourn him now.


Singaporeans truly did not deserve the man. We deserve the likes of Wee Siew Kim, Irene Ng, Lee Bee Wah and the rest of the gang. Like David Marshall, JBJ was a phenomenon. Both were from the legal profession. Both were ethnic minorities. Yet through sheer force of their rhetoric and idealism, they managed to transcend race, language and class to become an icon for social justice and democracy. These two men enriched our political history and vocabulary and for this we should forever be grateful.




4 Responses to “JBJ RIP”

  1. sushibar Says:


  2. LOL Says:

    Your firt 2 para. Sporeans are doing the exact same thing to Chee Soon Juan and the SDP now.

  3. JBJ – A man of honour and integrity.
    Today Sinaporeans will bid farewell to an iconic symbol of a fighting spirit that had stood up for democracy and human rights, paying every price that was extracted from him!
    We were saddensed to learn of JB Jeyaretnam’s demise in the early hours of the morning on Tuesday, 30 September 2008. JBJ, as he was fondly referred to, succumbed to a heart attack bringing to an end a life that reflected an indomitable spirit and a formidable fortitude that helped him to stay the course,
    He gave up what could have been a successful career on the bench to enter the rough-and-tumble of Singapore’s political life with zeal and energy.. Right to the end he remained a fighter, a great warrior for democracy and human rights. He embodied valour and virtue in fighting for a cause he believed in passionately.
    He stood proudly and bravely with the ordinary men championing their cause and on many occasions representing their interest without payment. He was there for them – all the time.
    The picture that remains in my mind goes back to 27 years ago towards the end of 1981 when he won the Anson by-election. The Anson seat was vacated by C V Devan Nair who subsequently went on to become the President of Singapore. That history-making victory broke the stranglehold of the PAP on Singapore’s politics.
    When the results were announced that night, a visibly emotional JBJ hugged his son and whispered, “We did it, son.” It was a poignant moment that he would have very much wanted to share with his wife, Margaret. Unfortunately she passed away the previous year without being part of the victory though she she had been very much part of his struggle.
    He was a consummate politician who had to go through so many political hurdles during the many years when he waged a long and lonely battle against the PAP to secure the space for democracy and human rights. The mighty PAP gave him one hell of a struggle. They bankrupted him with many defamation suits which they won with hefty awards crippling him financially.

    He lost his property, he lost his legal practice and he lost his wealth. But he never lost his sanity or his fighting spirit. That was the measure of this great man.
    All he had was his unbending will and a determination to stand up for what he believed in. Any lesser man would have thrown in the towel – but not JBJ!
    He peddled his party organ, The Hammer, and his books on street corners to raise funds to free himself from bankruptcy. Many, out of fear, avoided him on the streets. Even the bookshops dared not stock his books for sale. It was such a pity that he had to struggle against all odds and all alone.
    We are happy that he finally cleared himself from bankruptcy in July 2007 – in spite of strenuous opposition to block him – and died as an honourable man.
    When he launched his new party, the Reform Party, in July 2008, he remarked, “I’m not being dramatic but I haven’t got many more years.” Little did he know that he barely had three months of his life left!

    In his concluding remarks, he urged the gathering, “Come, walk with me, let us walk together… for peace, justice, truth… fearing no one except God,”
    We may not be able to walk with him but we can certainly walk in his path and keep his spirit alive.
    Farewell, JBJ. May your great soul rest in peace.

    P Ramakrishna
    4 October 2008

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