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

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ST’s obituary on JBJ hardly a tribute

Posted by jbjmemorial on October 1, 2008

Of course, it was not explicitly stated that the ST intended its report to be a tribute of any kind. While it is obligatory to write a short biography on the person’s life, there is no need to put him in an exceedingly negative light and cause distress for his loved ones.

Link: ST: Jeyaretnam dies

Let’s take a look at what I mean about too negative:

Positive mentions:

1. “One of the rare few to speak out against the Government, he made political history in 1981 when he became the first opposition politician elected to parliament.”

Negative mentions:

1. He was unable to contest the 2006 general election after he was made bankrupt in 2001 for failing to pay S$265,000 in defamation damages to then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. He was discharged from bankruptcy in May last year. – factual, but the excessive detail about bankruptcy was unnecessary

2. After losing his parliamentary seat in 1986 for making a false declaration of the WP accounts, he spent a month in jail and was fined S$5,000. Mr Jeyaretnam spent most of the last two decades battling outside the legislature.

3. He finished as top loser through the bruising Cheng San GRC bout, earning a 45.2 per cent of the valid votes. – one wonders what other connotations ‘top loser’ has

4. he was declared a bankrupt for failing to pay after losing a defamation suit against five Indian PAP MPs, among others.

5. after accusing his successor Low of not helping him clear his debts, he was effectively banished to the margins of the opposition scene here. – I must applaud the writer’s use of rhetoric

6. the old warhorse refused to believe that he was irrelevant to Singaporeans. – ‘warhorse’? the writer ought to become a novelist

7. Sporting his usual lamb-chop style sideburns, Mr Jeyaretnam stood before the crowd and, in typical style, spoke for almost an hour. – Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but is there nothing more significant about JBJ that the writer has to add the part about his sideburns? Again, unnecessary use of rhetoric

While it was a fact that he was bankrupted, it could have been mentioned with less focus. The ST would probably argue that it was all ‘factual reporting’. True, but surely it wasn’t much of ‘balanced reporting’. Now, to be fair, let’s contrast the ST’s report against Reuters’:

 

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