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

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A legacy that will always be an inspiration: A tribute to JBJ

Posted by jbjmemorial on October 3, 2008

Written by Ng E-Jay
03 October 2008

My very first encounter with Mr Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam (JBJ) was at a small coffeeshop along Peck Seah Street in May 2007.

JBJ had rallied friends, supporters, and other interested parties to come together to discuss the formation of a new political party.

He spoke in great earnest, making sure everyone understood the urgent need to press on with the Opposition Cause.

JBJ looked at me in the eye and told me with a voice filled with conviction what needed to be done to reform Singapore’s political system. He carefully explained why he wanted to campaign for power to be restored to the people, why the concentration of unbridled power in the Executive was detrimental to Singapore.

That first encounter with JBJ was to become one of several, and each time I met him and each time he spoke at in-door seminars, I tried my best to learn something from him. His wisdom and his great many years of experience never failed to touch me every time I heard him speak.

Over time, I realized that my previous impressions of JBJ that I had garnered from the mainstream media were quite distorted, and the mainstream media never quite conveyed to the public the real values that JBJ stood for.

In real life, JBJ was a passionate man who was filled with purpose and conviction, and he believed greatly in human rights, democracy, and civil rights for all Singaporeans. He believed in the need for independent trade unions, a free and independent media, and an independent Electoral Commission. JBJ also believed in the need for a independent judicial commission which would have the power to appoint judges, and that this power should be taken away from the prime minister.

In June this year, the Reform Party was officially registered, and the inauguration dinner was held on 11 July 08. The turnout at the dinner was very impressive, and all Opposition parties took part in the joy and the festivities. It was the most spectacular show of Opposition unity in a long time.

Now, with JBJ’s passing, the Opposition must continue to strengthen itself and make that unity shown at the inauguration dinner become a reality and a permanent fixture in our political landscape.

The Opposition should work hand-in-hand with NGOs to foster greater awareness of social, economic and political issues amongst the masses, and work to break the gridlock of fear generated by decades of high-handed PAP rule.

The Opposition should also develop the competency to address national issues and formulate effective, workable alternative policies to replace the policies of the Government that pay scant attention to the needs of the working class.

While JBJ has passed on to a better world, his work must continue. The legacy that he has left us will forever be an inspiration to us, a call for us to embrace the movement, to preserve and honour what has been done, and to finish what has been left uncompleted.




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