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S'pore's Opposition Parties

My message to Singaporeans out there is don’t be afraid – Kenneth Jeyaretnam

Son of Singapore’s late opposition icon enters politics
AFP, 10 Apr 2009

Click on photo to read ST's report

Click on photo to read ST's report

A son of Singapore’s late opposition icon J.B. Jeyaretnam said Friday he had joined his father’s pro-democracy party and may run for parliament in the next general elections.

British-trained economist Kenneth Jeyaretnam, 50, told AFP he had been approached to join other parties but decided going with the Reform Party was the right thing to do.

“This is examining my conscience… I should go with the Reform Party because it was set up by my father,” Jeyaretnam said.

“I want to honour what he stood for, everything that he said, but I will be my own man,” he said.

Jeyaretnam’s father, who died in September last year from a heart attack aged 82, suffered jail stints and libel suits in his lonely battle for greater political freedom in the wealthy city-state.

“My message to Singaporeans out there is don’t be afraid,” said Jeyaretnam.

“I want to show that competition is vital in politics as it is in business, so it’s not to be feared but to be embraced,” he said.

Jeyaretnam, who worked in the financial sector in London after earning a double first-class honours degree from the University of Cambridge and returned to Singapore last year, says he can offer alternative economic policies to those espoused by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).

“I want to create an image of economic competency of the opposition, meaning that I can advocate policies for economic prosperity and I can advocate better economic policies than the present government,” he said.

Jeyaretnam joined the Reform Party three weeks ago and said he was ready to go out and meet Singaporeans just like his father, a fiery orator who peddled anti-PAP books in the waning years of his political career.

“There is a lot of work to be done… I have a lot to do and go out to meet people,” said Jeyaretnam.

“My father was always a firm believer that you have to go out and meet with the ordinary people,” he said.

Asked if he was prepared to run for office, he replied: “Absolutely ready.”

Click on photo too see all my posts on the passing of J B Jeyaretnam

Click on photo too see all my posts on the passing of J B Jeyaretnam

The late Jeyaretnam was a bitter foe of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, whose son Lee Hsien Loong became prime minister in 2004 after Goh Chok Tong stepped down. The younger Lee led the PAP to victory in the 2006 general elections.

J.B. Jeyaretnam founded the Reform Party a few months before his sudden death and was hoping to run for office again despite his age. (Jacob: See here and here for videos of the Reform Party’s press conference on Apr 18, ’08 and its inauguration dinner on July 11, ’08)

He was one of the few Singaporeans who spoke out consistently against the PAP, espousing causes such as human rights and greater political freedoms in the city-state, and made history by breaking the PAP’s total grip on parliament in 1981.

His younger son Philip, 45, also educated at Cambridge, is an author and senior lawyer who has served as president of the Law Society of Singapore.

The PAP, which has been in power since 1959, says its tough laws against dissent are necessary to ensure the stability which has helped Singapore progress economically to become among the wealthiest in Asia.

It controls all but two of the 84 seats in parliament.

General elections are not due until 2011 but there is speculation that the PAP will seek a mandate earlier, hoping Singaporeans would support its record of economic progress and stability instead of voting for untested opposition leaders during an economic recession.

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “My message to Singaporeans out there is don’t be afraid – Kenneth Jeyaretnam

  1. It is right to say that Singaporeans shouldn’t be afraid. A country and its people don’t just thrive on economic well-being alone; it needs to thrive in an environment conducive for innovation and free-thinking. A more open and fair political environment is constructive in this respect and, if pursued with care, will allow the Singaporean society to progress. I personally look forward to the Reform Party alternative blueprint to the PAP’s economic policies. It will be surely great if our country can not only prosper economically, but also in political self-actualisation. Way to go, Reform Party!

    Posted by Collin | May 5, 2010, 20:45
  2. OPPOSITION PARTY IN SINGAPORE. ( COMING ELECTION DUES 2012 )

    DEAR SIR,

    I THINK SINGAPORE STILL DO NOT HAVE A VERY GOOD OPPOSITION YET. IT MAY TAKE ANOTHER 5 TO 10 YEARS LATER WHEN THE NEW CITIZEN SETTLE DOWN IN SINGAPORE THEY WILL FORM A NEW PARTY. AS U KNOW SINGAPORE EVERY ELECTION IS NOT SO INTERESTING. AS U KNOW WE HAVE OPPOSTITION MP IN PARLIMENT AND THEY DO NOT BRING UP THE PROBLEM CONSENT BY SINGAPORE. THEY JUST FOLLOW WHAT THE PAP PARTY SAY.

    Posted by ANDREW POH | May 6, 2010, 10:39
  3. Singaporeans are afraid because they have this inferiority complex. It has prompted the government to encourage everyone to take part in nation buiiding. With more oppositions, the opportunity for Singaporeans to fight for more rights, especially the younger ones. Right to have one man for one vote with no more walkovers, right to have higher education in local university, right to have affordable housing for young couples, and most of all right to have minimum wage for Singaporeans. Let us make this a vibrant society and no more fear.

    Posted by Ida Ameng | May 6, 2010, 20:12
  4. It is time to hear from the opposition party. PAP has had enough support already and it is time for them to let other people have their say. Singapore is not all about PAP’s leadership, it is about us and everyone’s welfare.

    Posted by KY | May 6, 2010, 21:55
  5. PAP has done a magnificent job in taking us to where we are now. From the turbulent 60s-70s to the economically challenging 80s-90s and through to the new millenium.

    But, with the passing of the baby boomers, 3rd generation Singaporeans, who are indeed a different breed of citizens, Singapore needs a fresh perspective, now more than ever before. We need an opposition with a clear agenda for growth/advancement, not muddied by personal disgruntlement with the ruling party.

    Even if it takes 5-10 years to see any positive results, we must start turning the cogs of change by building a credible opposition today.

    I disagree with Andrew on his lack of enthusiasm. I do however empathise with his cynicism. That being said, I would hope that this cynicism doesn’t translate into giving up on us ever having a credible opposition party. We may not see it in this lifetime, but laying the groundworks NOW for our future generations may not be a bad idea either. We should stop thinking just for ourselves and plan for what’s to come and now is the time to take that first step to a long and exciting journey.

    I don’t need fancy promises and huge reforms because it simply won’t happen, at least not in the next few years. What I’ll be looking out for will be a candidate/party competent enough to be an alternative voice to challenge current policies and future policies set by the ruling party.

    That’s all I’m asking for.

    To all opposition candidates> Please don’t screw this up. Keep it clean and be sincere. We don’t need another farcical opposition candidate. We have too many as it is. There are Singaporeans ready to take the other side… don’t waste this oppty.

    Posted by MH | May 7, 2010, 14:17

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