In remembrance of a Singapore Patriot – Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam (1926 – 2008)

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J B Jeyaretnam 1926-2008: Passing of a legend

Posted by jbjmemorial on October 1, 2008

The legendary Singapore opposition icon, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, better known as JBJ (photo credit: Wikipedia), passed away early this morning of heart failure.

After having left the Workers Party, he had just formed the Reform Party to mount a new challenge to PAP dominance. He was the interim secretary general of the party.

He was Singapore’s Mr Opposition, having broken the PAP’s 15-year monopoly in Parliament in the Anson by-election in 1981, winning 52 per cent of the votes to become Singapore’s first opposition MP.

 

He suffered much personal hardship after being at the losing end of a string of defamation and libel law suits and was forced to pay substantial damages, which eventually left him bankrupt for a number of years.

The first time I met him was some years ago in Johor, where I was speaking at an inter-faith conference and JBJ, an Anglican Christian, was in the audience.  Apparently, he was spending a lot of time in Johor back then due to some of his ‘problems’ in Singapore.

During the break, he came up and had some encouraging words for me. And that made a deep impression on me – to actually meet the legend in person.

All through the long, dark years of persecution, he kept the flame burning. For many, his perseverance with what sometimes appeared like a lost cause was an inspiration.

Today, Singapore’s opposition politics is here to stay. In the last general election in Singapore, for instance, huge crowds – usually not shown over the mainstream media – attended the Workers Party’s election rallies.

For his heroic role in keeping the flame of democracy blazing, Singaporeans owe a debt of gratitude to the solitary figure who was often seen in the past at street corners, selling his Workers Party publication, The Hammer, during all those lonely years of struggle.  ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven!’ Matthew 5:10.

Rest in peace, JBJ. You have fought the good fight; you have completed the race.

 

Source: anilnetto

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