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“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
These were the words printed on the service sheet of the late J B Jeyaretnam’s funeral yesterday, a poignant Biblical passage that at once capture the essence of his life and the legacy that he leaves behind.
4 Oct 08 will always be remembered as the day we said our final farewell to a man much beloved by Singaporeans. An estimated 1,000 people showed up at the St Andrew’s Cathedral to listen to Messrs Kenneth and Philip deliver their eulogies (watch video here).
Those present sang hymns, said prayers and listened to a sermon. When the end neared a minister rose and extolled: “Into your hands we entrust your servant J B Jeyaretnam…” As tears flowed, the attendees sang Amazing Grace, a hymn written by a former slave owner who saw the light and turned from his evil ways.
The cortege then left for the crematorium at Mandai where another brief service was held before attendees were invited to file past the casket to view the body of a silent Jeyaretnam for one last time.
The casket was then wheeled away and the hapless crowd was ushered into a viewing gallery. From behind the glass pane, Jeyaretnam could not have heard the sobs and prayers as he was carried beyond the wooden partition to be consumed by the furnace.
Within minutes the congregation dispersed carrying with it only the memory of a man who walked tall amongst us when he was alive.
Some made their way to Hong Lim Park to attend a candle-light vigil where pictures of Jeyaretnam were displayed and messages were signed. Many placed flowers beneath a hand-drawn portrait of the deceased (watch video here).
The evening was cool and the gatherers subdued. It was an occasion that allowed Jeyaretnam’s supporters to gather to talk about the man they so admired.
The participants drifted away late into the night, closing a day filled with sorrow and a chapter with pride.