30 September 2008
J B Jeyaretnam passes on
Opposition politician J B Jeyaretnam passed away in the early hours of 30 September 2008. A lawyer who sprang into prominence by winning the Anson constituency by-election in 1981, thus breaking the People's Action Party's monopoly of all seats in parliament, he paid for that act of insolence (at least in the eyes of the PAP) by being targetted and soon sued for defamation. He was bankrupted as a result of having to pay enormous sums as damages.
Yet, he never gave up the fight. Again and again, he threw himself against the steamroller of an authoritarian state. Despite paying dearly for his pugnacity and idealism, he became a beacon of hope for any Singaporean who believed in liberty and democracy. We were awed by his courage and tenacity, and we must surely be grateful that he kept, at times almost single-handedly, the flame alive.