21 May 2007

Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam - On Bended Knees? Never

These words should be familiar to Singapore readers as it has been repeated often enough. But if not, this is a good time to take note of the late Devan Nair's observations on JB Jeyaretnam's strength of character. Lee Kuan Yew's comments on JB Jeyaretnam were made after the latter's significant Workers' Party Anson win in 1981.

"Immediately, however, Kuan Yew's attention was concentrated on how he would deal with J.B Jeyaretnam in parliament. I was quite alarmed at some of the things he told me at that lunch. "Look," he said, "Jeyaretnam cant win the infighting. I'll tell you why. WE are in charge. Every government ministry and department is under our control. And in the infighting, he will go down for the count every time." And I will never forget his last words. "I will make him crawl on his bended knees, and beg for mercy."

Jeyaretnam was made of sterner stuff. To his eternal credit he never did crawl on bended knees, or ever begged for mercy. And it is to Lee Kuan Yew's eternal shame that Jeyaretnam will leave the political scene with his head held high, enjoying a martyrdom conferred on him by Lee. Lest I be misunderstood, let me state that Jeya more than deserves the crown of the martyr for his indomitable courage and dignity in the face of the vilest persecution."

Posted by Eng Chuan Lee

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