Singapore Democrats congratulate J B Jeyaretnam

May 22, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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Joshua B JeyaretnamThe SDP extends its congratulations to Mr J B Jeyaretnam on his discharge from his bankruptcy and his intention to form the Reform Party.

Mr Jeyaretnam has through the decades personified the never-say-die spirit of Singapore’s opposition. The adage “You can’t keep a good man down” certainly rings loud and clear with the iconic opposition leader.

The Singapore Democrats are heartened to note that Mr Jeyaretnam has emphasized on the need for fundamental political reform in Singapore, and not just the “fine-tuning” of the PAP’s failed policies. It is a position that the SDP shares wholeheartedly.

We look forward to working with Mr Jeyaretnam and the soon-to-be-established Reform Party in order to bring about democracy in Singapore. Without genuine democracy, as opposed to the phoney imitation that exists at the moment, the real needs and aspirations of all Singaporeans cannot be addressed.

Singaporean opposition veteran plans a comeback
AFP
21 May 07

Donations have enabled the first opposition politician ever elected to parliament in the city-state to pay off a bankruptcy and return to politics

Veteran Singapore opposition figure J.B. Jeyaretnam announced a political comeback yesterday with plans for a new party to challenge the 48-year rule of the People’s Action Party (PAP). (video: [Part I] [Part II])

Jeyaretnam, 81, made the announcement after saying earlier this month he had paid S$233,255.78 to clear the six-year-old bankruptcy which prevented him from running for office.

“I intend to form a new party to give Singaporeans a chance again, an opportunity,” Jeyaretnam said at a press conference during which he refuted “several lies” about Singaporean society.

He did not announce the name of the party but said he had “a few followers” and the party’s main objective would be “a complete, thorough change in the way this country has been run.”

In a society where the opposition plays only a marginal role, Jeyaretnam has been one of a rare few to take on the PAP and the city-state’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, 83, who holds the influential Cabinet position of minister mentor.

Jeyaretnam made political history in 1981 when, as secretary-general of the Workers’ Party, he became the first opposition politician elected to parliament.

He was re-elected with a bigger majority in 1984 but was later forced to give up his seat after being fined and sentenced to one month in jail following lawsuits filed by political foes from the PAP.

Jeyaretnam has remained virtually silent for more than a year, and revealed his plans after reading a 90-minute statement that attacked the PAP’s legacy and accused it of subverting parliament and the judiciary.

“I want to tell Singaporeans that they’ve got to say, “Enough is enough”,” he said. “I want Singaporeans to say that they are not prepared to live lies anymore.”

About 15 people including reporters and Jeyaretnam supporters attended the event which was filmed by a man in dark glasses and a baseball cap. He described himself as an “amateur” photographer when asked whether he was with the security services.

Jeyaretnam was declared bankrupt in 2001 for being unable to pay court-orderd defamation damages to leaders of the PAP, including former prime minister Goh Chok Tong.

He said yesterday he had finally been able to clear the debts with help from a handful of Singaporeans as well as from his sons including Philip, a respected lawyer.

Jeyaretnam, himself once a successful lawyer, also announced he intended to practise again “to take up cases which concern the public.”

The PAP won all but two seats in last year’s elections for the 84-member parliament.

Singapore’s authorities say tough laws against dissent and other political activity are necessary to ensure stability which has helped the country achieve economic success.

But Jeyaretnam said it was a “lie” that the city-state was affluent, when elderly people were forced to survive by collecting cardboard and cans for sale