SINGAPORE: Think Centre mourns the loss of the country’s ‘indomitable lion’
10 October 2008 5:40 am
Think Centre joins the nation in mourning the loss of Singapore's indomitable lion in politics today. Veteran opposition MP and former Secretary-General of Workers' Party (WP), Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam or JBJ as we fondly know him as, died of heart failure at the age of 82.
JBJ received his training in law and was at his element as a Magistrate before deciding to answer the nation's call for political service. JBJ became the first opposition member to break the People's Action Party (PAP) monopoly in Parliament since 1966.
A people's politician, his genuine care and concern for the welfare of the working class swept him to a Parliamentary seat when he defeated the PAP's Pang Kim Hin and the United People's Front's Harbans Singh at the Anson By-Elections of 1981.
His stint in Parliament was riddled with fiery speeches, cutting questions and most of all, a clarion check and balance on the overwhelming PAP domination. On the other hand, his robust and bravado style of politics also attracted detractions in the form of mis-appropriation charges and libel suits initiated by his political opponents.
et JBJ never succumbed or buckled under such political duress. He came back in style to lead the 5-member WP team who contested Cheng San Group Representation Constituency (GRC) in 1997 and garnered 45.18 per cent of the votes (against the PAP's 54.82 per cent).
Nearing causing a political tsunamis, he went on to become Non-Constituency MP and continue his fight for the people in the corridors of power.
For his other passion in fighting for the human rights of the people, Think Centre honoured JBJ with the inaugural Singapore Human Rights Defender Award in December 2003.
We were eager with anticipation as having finally discharged his bankruptcy debts, JBJ came back once more from political doldrums to form the Reform Party in July 2008.
Alas we would never see the venerable lion take up the vanguard in opposition politics ahead, but in his strong beliefs, stubborn resilence and heart for the people of Singapore we shall find the beacon and courage to continue working for a more caring and sharing society, in this place we call Singapore.
Think Centre sends its deepest condolences to Kenneth, Phillip and their loved ones in this hour of mourning. Our hearts and minds are with all who will dearly miss Singapore's most recognisable human rights defender and most revered indomitable lion – the man we call JBJ.
NOTE: This statement was issued by Sinapan Samydorai, President Think Centre, FORUM-ASIA's member in Singapore.