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MCYS minister pays his respect to late JB Jeyaretnam.

Vivian Balakrishnan attends JBJ’s wake

Minister for Community, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, attended the wake for the late Mr JB Jeyaretnam on Tuesday. Dr Balakrishnan, who drove there himself and arrived at about 10pm, was greeted by Mr Jeyaretnam’s son, Philip.(See condolence letter from PM Lee and SM Goh to JBJ's two sons, Kenneth and Philip below.)

Here is a short video :


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CONDOLENCE LETTER FROM PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG ON DEMISE OF JB JEYARETNAM

30 September 2008

Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam
Mr Philip Jeyaretnam

Dear Kenneth and Philip Jeyaretnam

I was sad to learn that your father, Mr Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, has passed away.

Mr JB Jeyaretnam was a Member of Parliament for Anson constituency from 1981 till 1986, and a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament from 1997 till 2001. He used to engage in heated debates in the House. Perhaps it was because he and the PAP never saw eye to eye on any major political issue and he sought by all means to demolish the PAP and our system of government. Unfortunately, this helped neither to build up a constructive opposition nor our Parliamentary tradition. Nevertheless, one had to respect Mr JB Jeyaretnam’s dogged tenacity to be active in politics at his age.

However, our differences were not personal. In 1993, one of you (Kenneth) wrote to Mr Goh Chok Tong, who was then Prime Minister, to say that you found employers in Singapore reluctant to offer you a job, and your only explanation was that the employers felt the authorities would not welcome your employment because of your name. Mr Goh replied with a letter which could be shown to prospective employers, to say that the government did not hold anything against you, and that employers should evaluate you fairly on your own merits, like any other candidate, because Singapore needed every talented person that it could find. Mr Goh had previously made the same point to your brother Philip, whom he had invited to lunch. I am therefore happy that both of you have established yourselves in Singapore.

Please accept my deepest condolences.

Yours sincerely

Lee Hsien Loong

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COMMENTS OF SENIOR MINISTER GOH CHOK TONG IN RESPONSE TO MEDIA QUERIES ON THE DEMISE OF MR J B JEYARETNAM (link)

I was taken aback when I learnt this morning that Mr J B Jeyaretnam had passed away.  I did not expect it as I had recently read of his formation of a new political party and his interest in contesting in the next General Elections.  I send my condolences to his two sons, Kenneth and Philip.

My first encounter with Mr Jeyaretnam was in the 1981 Anson by-election, which he won.  I was then the PAP’s Organising Secretary.  His victory showed that it was possible for opposition MPs to be elected into Parliament.

We had many more encounters later, in Parliament, during elections and in the Courts.  Politically, we were on different sides of the fence.  I did not believe his brand of politics was good for Singapore.  PAP leaders and he had many heated exchanges.  But despite this, we kept up our personal relationship.

As Prime Minister, I did not allow the PAP’s fight with Mr Jeyaretnam to affect his sons’ place in society.  In reply to a letter from Kenneth, I assured him that we valued talent, regardless of his father’s stand in politics and determination to oppose us.  I had invited Philip for lunch, to tell him the same thing.

What do I remember or respect most about Mr J B Jeyaretnam?  Even though I did not agree with his political cause, I respect his fighting spirit to advance it and his willingness to pay a price for it.

PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE

SINGAPORE

30 September 2008