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

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to the late JBJ: may we continue the good fight

Posted by jbjmemorial on October 3, 2008

When I received a sms of J. B. Jeyaretnam’s death from a friend in the early morning… somehow I was not too sad about it.

Perhaps I already knew his time is near. In fact when he finally cleared his undeserving bankruptcy and decided to form a political party… I was not too excited about it.

Of course I am not meaning what the States Times reported “Yet, the old warhorse refused to believe that he was irrelevant to Singaporeans.”

And I mean well….. he has already fought the good fight… it is time for a master to hand over the gloves and pass on to his disciples. I guess I made up this impression during the 2006 elections when he missed (because of the arduous task of clearing his bankruptcy) what I thought was his last chance to stand as a candidate. I felt that he really deserved the hero’s exit even if he has lost so many battles. I wished that he could spend his twilight years more with his family, his grandchildren and I believed that no Singaporeans can fault him for retiring cause he has tried his extreme best… (compared to some Big Brother who still want to rise up from his grave to look over us)

Just like so many old people and him, they should not have work at this ripe old age and it is up to us the younger generation to repay our debts and continue their legacies.

But my fear is that are Singaporeans still so dependent and basking our hopes on one lone fighter and with his demise… no one can fill in his shoes?

My lament is that it seems that people are forgiving towards the past, towards the dead but when it comes to the present and the living, we are not there to support them… in fact we criticized and stunned them.

As a documentary filmmaker, I always find it a bit amusing that people like to dig out old history, pay tributes to dead rebels… as if they start to realize their forefather’s mistakes of abandoning and persecuting them during their fight. Are these “rebels” so ahead of their times that it always take another generation to recognize their efforts?

Thus my hope is this, Singapore’s history is short but it is not short of people like JBJ who have fight for democracy. Yes there were the old-timers who have either died or exiled or retired but yet there are also a growing number of young people who have in one way or the other being inspired by JBJ and his contemporaries to continue the path. And my wish is that we Singaporeans be more tolerant, more supportive and not be dismissive and critical of these young guns as mere “psychopath”.
I guess it will be a repeat of the same tragic fate that JBJ faced when he had to “leave” the party, when he had to go alone to sell his books if Singaporeans are still so bo-chap and at best KPKB at kopi-tiam about PAP and opposition disunity and at worst expect some people to fight on their behalf and the greatest travesty of all, when some kind souls decided to fight for their interest, they get mocked at.

Jeyaretnam definitely deserved a tribute… I believed one day history will be true and kind to him. But it is not much use to give a posthemus award to a dead man. I believed a fitting tribute to JBJ will be what he wish Singaporeans to do “Cast off the slumber into which you have been led into for the last 10 years. Wake up to your rights as a human being, to your proper role as citizens of this country.”

Just this afternoon I went to the wake, I saw Mr Singapore Rebel writing a passage on the condolences book something to the effect of pledging himself to continue the fight for democracy in Singapore :)… may many more join this pursuit.

An afterthought… JBJ maybe a giant but he is still very human. We may not be equal to his accomplishment as a lawyer and former MP but if we decided to take up his call to do the right thing, we can held our heads high and walk like giants too.


Source: Bishan Busy Body


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