Channel NewsAsia: WP pays tribute to former Secretary-General JB Jeyaretnam

By Lee Siew Hoon/Imelda Saad


JB Jeyaretnam

SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party said it is greatly saddened by the passing of its immediate past Secretary-General, JB Jeyaretnam.

A statement from Workers’ Party’s Secretary-General and Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang said the party mourns the passing of a giant in Singapore politics and sends its deepest condolences to Mr Jeyaretnam’s family on their bereavement.

The party also paid tribute to Mr Jeyaretnam for his commitment and contributions to public service.

He went into private law practice after leaving the judiciary as District Judge and First Magistrate in the Subordinate Court. The party said later, in private practice, he represented many clients with limited means.

Most would remember the former Workers’ Party chief as a fiery politician and orator, with trademark candour.

In 1971, Mr Jeyaretnam became the Workers’ Party’s Secretary-General and led the party to contest in the 1972 General Election in the Farrer Park seat, which was eventually won by the People’s Action Party’s Lee Chiaw Meng.

After electoral defeats in 1976, and the Telok Blangah by-election in 1979, he said: “I feel very sorry not for myself but feel sorry particularly for the young – the people who want change in Singapore.”

Mr Jeyaretnam finally made his breakthrough in 1981, when he defeated the ruling People’s Action Party’s Pang Kim Hin and the United People’s Front’s Harbans Singh in the Anson by-election.

In the process, he became the first opposition candidate returned to Parliament, 16 years after Singapore gained independence.

He retained the seat in the 1984 General Election, but had to vacate it in 1986 after he was convicted on charges of mis-stating his party’s accounts.

Mr Jeyaretnam was barred from standing for office until 1997. That year, he returned to Parliament as a Non-Constituency MP.

His fire-brand politics also saw him facing and contesting successive defamation suits by Singapore leaders – Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, for charges of slander between 1988 and 1995.

In 2001, Mr Jeyaretnam was declared bankrupt, disbarred and prevented from taking part in elections. That was also the year he left the Workers’ Party, the party he had led since 1971.

But Mr Jeyaretnam found a fresh start seven years later, after being discharged as a bankrupt. In July this year, at the age of 82, he launched a new party, called the Reform Party. Mr Jeyaretnam had said that his was a party of change. – CNA/vm

Advertisements
Posted in 2008 09. Comments Off on Channel NewsAsia: WP pays tribute to former Secretary-General JB Jeyaretnam

TODAY: J B Jeyaretnam dies of heart failure, aged 82

Afternoon Edition

FORMER Opposition MP and former secretary-general of the Workers’ Party, Mr J B Jeyaretnam, died early this morning of heart failure.

He was 82.

Mr Jeyaretnam was the first Opposition party candidate to be elected a Member of Parliament in Singapore, 16 years after the country gained independence. He served as an MP for the Workers’ Party of Singapore from 1981 to 86, and again from 1997 to 2001.

Having left the Workers’ Party, he was most recently interim secretary-general of the Reform Party, which he formed.

His son, Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, told Channel NewsAsia that his father, who had a pre-existing heart condition, had complained of breathing difficulties early this morning.

He was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital but doctors were unable to revive him. He passed away with his family by his side.

Mr Jeyaretnam leaves behind two sons.

In an emailed statement to the media, Kenneth said: “It is with overwhelming sadness that I can inform you that my father, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, passed away in the early hours of the morning of September 30 at our apartment here on Evelyn Road.

“Earlier this evening he and I had enjoyed a light dinner and chatted and then he sat out on the balcony for a while before retiring.

“At about 1.30 am he woke up and was obviously in distress and I called an ambulance. He was taken to Tan Tock Seng hospital but unfortunately the medical team working on him were unable to revive him despite their lengthy and strenuous attempts.

“My brother Philip joined me at the hospital and we were then informed by the doctor in charge of his care that he had passed away. We wish to thank the team for their valiant efforts.

“Naturally, at this moment, the family is overwhelmed with grief and we will make further announcements after the necessary arrangements have been made.”

Channel NewsAsia: Former opposition MP JB Jeyaretnam dies of heart failure

By Lee Foong Ming


JB Jeyaretnam (file pic)

SINGAPORE: Former opposition MP and former Secretary-General of the Workers’ Party, JB Jeyaretnam, died of heart failure early Tuesday. He was 82 years old.

His son, Kenneth Jeyaretnam, told Channel NewsAsia that Mr Jeyaretnam – who had a pre-existing heart condition – had complained of breathing difficulties at about 1.30am on Tuesday.

He was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, but doctors were unable to revive him. He died of heart failure with both his sons, Kenneth and Philip, by his side.

A lawyer, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam was the first opposition member to win a Parliamentary seat in 15 years when he defeated the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Pang Kim Hin and the United People’s Front’s Harbans Singh in the Anson By-Election in 1981.

He retained the seat in the 1984 General Election, but had to vacate it in 1986 after he was convicted on charges of mis-stating his party’s accounts.

Barred subsequently from standing for office, Mr Jeyaretnam returned to Parliament following the 1997 General Election.

That year, he was part of a 5-member team from the Workers’ Party who contested in Cheng San Group Representation Constituency (GRC), and garnered 45.18 per cent of the votes against the PAP’s 54.82 per cent.

A Non-Constituency MP seat was offered to the Workers’ Party for turning in the highest votes by an opposition party, and this was taken up by Mr Jeyaretnam.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, the fiery opposition member faced several defamation lawsuits brought against him by PAP leaders, among them Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

In 2001, Mr Jeyeratnam was declared a bankrupt and disbarred as a lawyer. As a bankrupt, he was also barred from taking part in the General Election held that year.

Later, in October 2001 he left the Workers’ Party he had led since 1971.

After he was discharged as a bankrupt in 2008, the 82 year old formed a new political party, the Reform Party, in July.

Mr Jeyaretnam leaves behind two sons.

The family later said in a statement that the family is overwhelmed with grief and will make further announcements after the necessary arrangements have been made.

According to the statment from both his sons, Mr Jeyaretnam had spent his last hours at the Evelyn Road apartment of his son Kenneth.

“Earlier this evening he and I had enjoyed a light dinner and chatted and then he sat out on the balcony for a while before retiring.”

The statement went on to say that the family was woken up at about 1:30am by Mr Jeyaretnam who was “obviously in distress” and was rushed to hospital.

“But unfortunately the medical team working on him were unable to revive him despite their lengthy and strenuous attempts. My brother Philip joined me at the hospital and we were then informed by the doctor in charge of his care that he had passed away,” said the family in their statement, which also gave thanks the medical team. – CNA/yb

Posted in 2008 09. Comments Off on Channel NewsAsia: Former opposition MP JB Jeyaretnam dies of heart failure

Straits Times: Why PCF’s event got permit but not WP’s

PARLIAMENT

Ho Peng Kee explains why the two events were treated differently

BY LI XUEYING

A PAP Community Foundation (PCF) event last month at which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cycled a short distance was “definitely not of the same order” as one the Workers’ Party (WP) tried to hold last year, Parliament heard yesterday.

The event by the PCF, which is registered as a charity, had a “family day setting” and was focused on community service, Senior Minister of State (Home Affairs) Ho Peng Kee told the House.

He said this when explaining the police’s rationale for granting a permit for the event at West Coast Park, and not for a WP mass cycling event which the opposition party wanted to hold at East Coast Park to mark its 50th anniversary.

Non-Constituency MP and WP chairman Sylvia Lim wanted an explanation, while Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong asked if there was any change to rules for outdoor events by political parties and affiliated organisations.

The perceived difference in treatment that the two events received has also been the subject of discussion in newspaper forums and on the Internet.

Associate Professor Ho said the position on outdoor political events remained unchanged.

The police will not grant permits for such events “due to the assessed potential for public disorder which politically-driven events can lead to, even when this is not intended by the organisers”.

On why a permit was granted for the Aug 31 PCF event which saw PM Lee take part in a cycling activity, he started by explaining it was “not a cycling event but a Family Day Carnival”.

“The only cycling was when the Prime Minister and the other special guests made their entrance by cycling a short distance from where the Prime Minister had alighted from his car to the stage.”

It was also “not organised by a political party but a registered charity”.

While affiliated to the People’s Action Party, “the PCF has remained completely non-political since its set-up in 1986”, he said, adding that its activities include running kindergartens and childcare centres and raising funds for charitable causes.

“The authorities considered the family day setting and community service focus of the event, as well as the status of PCF as a registered charity, and did not object to the event as the policy of disallowing outdoor political events did not apply in this situation,” he said.

Nominated MP Eunice Olsen – who asked Mr Siew’s question on his behalf as he is overseas for work – recalled that Prof Ho said last year that the reason for a ban on outdoor activities by political parties was that people may stop politicians and debate on issues with them, and this could result in problems.

“Do such risks not also apply to other events organised by the PCF, which explicitly declares it is an arm of the PAP?” she asked, noting that the PCF’s logo incorporates the PAP’s symbol.

Replied Prof Ho: “It’s quite different for a political party under its own banner to organise an event where it espouses a political cause, talking about issues that are close to the hearts. Some Singaporeans will agree, disagree.

“As we have seen in other countries, when you do this, because politics can create emotive feelings, passion…you may not intend it, but then there may be bystanders who may stir up the situation.”

But an examination of the PCF’s track record “shows very clearly it does not engage in politics, it does not discuss political issues”, he said.

Mr Low Thia Khiang (Hougang), the WP secretary-general, then rose to dispute this. He asked Prof Ho to cast his mind back to 1991, when the PCF “threatened to withdraw and close down kindergartens in opposition wards”.

“Is that not political?” he asked.

Prof Ho responded: “There’s no denying that in terms of affiliation, the PCF is affiliated to the PAP. But in terms of the focus of activities, it is non-political.

“I think it’s quite natural therefore, that in terms of services offered to the people of Hougang, which made a decision, there is a withdrawal of the services. The services themselves, surely Mr Low cannot say are political in nature.”

xueying@sph.com.sg