Thursday, 2 October 2008

Mourning the passing of JBJ (5 January 1926 - 30 September 2008)

"He has done so much for Singapore. But what have Singaporeans done for him?" - quote taken from the weblog of Siew Kum Hong.. a line the Nominated MP heard said at Mr JBJ's wake..

"In an age where a million dollars are demanded to serve the nation, JBJ parted with a million dollars to serve his people." .... from Jacob's weblog

Indeed, very few among us can claim to know him beyond what we read in the local press, whether it is fair or otherwise... let alone care about what he does; or try to support or encourage him in his work... I was surprised to read that he faced and lost the first political defamation suit against him way back in 1976.. and was sued again and again and jailed and bankrupted all the way till he was finally discharged in 2008!! Read: JBJ through the years... wow... talk about determination!

Personally, the closest encounter I ever had with this iconic figure was the brief chat i had with him many years ago, when he set up a booth just outside City Hall MRT, near to where i was working at that time, selling his first book "Make It Right For Singapore".

I bought a copy and he was quick to give me his office number, on top of autographing the book, when i asked if I could email him afterwards if I had further questions.

Through someone who knew him, I went on to also buy his second book, "The Hatchet Man of Singapore" a few years later.. it was a pity that this time round, i didn't get to speak to him, even though the book came autographed.

Though he is gone, his life, thoughts and ideas deserve a place in our history books..

Singapore has lost someone very special.. and very important... and who will always deserves our utmost respect...

“At times I feel tired and say to myself:
“Don’t you think you should give up now?”
But that is only momentary.
It is followed by the thought that
if I have started on a job and
as long as I have the health and strength,
I will have to go on with it.
And there are people who look to you
especially when you walk the streets of Singapore.
It is just my conviction that when things are wrong,
and if there is anything I can do to put them right,
then I should do that.
I think every citizen should feel like that.
It is a citizen’s duty.

“I did not have many properties
but I had to sell a bungalow
in a very fashionable area in Singapore
to pay the judgment obtained
by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
Having sold that, three years later
I bought a small apartment,
and then I had to sell that too.
All in, I had easily about 12 to 13 suits to pay off.
Some people say I was a fool.
All I can say is I do not regret it because,
to me, life is not all about making money
and acquiring wealth.
Life is doing something for the people around you.”

- Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam

Some more balanced reporting (Thank God for the Internet!):
* Photo copyrighted by Lim Soon Chung. See gallery of her great JBJ pics.

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