SDP members and friends came together on Saturday to remember and honour the late Mohd Isa who passed away peacefully in January this year. Isa was a Central Executive Committee and was much loved and respected by those who knew him.
Former SDP chairman Mr Mohd Jufrie said that Isa was so committed to the cause of democracy that he had joined the opposition in the 1980s even when he was still working in the Housing and Development Board (HDB). This was a time when Mr Lee Kuan Yew was still the prime minister and the PAP had complete control over politics in Singapore.
He also pointed out that Isa was detained under the ISA but continued to work for democracy after he was released. "It showed the courage of this man and his conviction to fight against injustice and oppression," Mr Jufrie said.
Isa's teammate at the Sembawang GRC in the 2006 elections, Ms Chee Siok Chin, also spoke at the memorial service. She remembered Isa as a man of strong beliefs but always tempered his conviction with reason.
She recounted how they had a heated argument during the campaign but Isa came in the following day with a smile, ready to work again. "He was not the sort to hold a grudge or harbour ill-feelings," Ms Chee remembered.
The microphone was passed around and several members and friends spoke warmly of the man whom they knew as a quiet but steadfast leader of the SDP.
The one acknowledgement that everyone made was that Isa did not crave the limelight but was always there solidly backing the party in both word and deed.
Dr Chee Soon Juan gave the closing remarks and said that Isa personified the values and principles of the SDP. He recounted how Isa had campaigned with the party even when he was weak from his illness, never giving up and keeping to his word to fight for democracy until the very end.
In honouring the man, SDP has launched the Mohd Isa Bursary Award. Because of Isa's personal commitment to better education especially for lower income families, the SDP will award three students $500 each annually to help them cope with school-related expenses.
This is consistent with SDP's principle to level up society through education. The current education system is elitist and unfair towards students from poor family backgrounds. The SDP will be publishing its policy paper on education in the near future.
Party Chairman Mr Jeffrey George announced the criteria of the Award which is open to full-time students who are Singapore citizens or have either
parent as a Singapore citizen and who come from families with per
capita household income (gross) of $450 per month or less. Details of the selection criteria and application process will be announced soon.
Professor Paul Tambyah, who also spoke at the service, said this was a modest start but the awards will at least help three students in Singapore who face financial difficulties.