Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am not saying that JB Jeyaretnam wrong in what he did. Just the way he did it.
JB Jeyaretnam was the foremost opposition politician formerly of the Workers Party. From 1974 until recently he tirelessly and courageously fought the dictatorship of Lee Kuan Yew and company. In that process he was jailed, sued for millions, imprisoned and bankrupted. He has now, it appears, left the political scene completely. Undoubtedly a good honest decent man.
From the start go, in 1974, when JB Jeyaretnam entered the political arena as a challenge to Lee, he knew that Lee was playing dirty. Jeyaretnam was sued almost immediately and promptly found guilty by corrupt judges acting at the behest of Lee. The law was abused for political ends. Lee was guilty as a criminal. Suborning a judge to subvert the law in your favor is a criminal offense. This happened not once but repeatedly and as a matter of routine.
Jeyaretnam knew this or should have known this from day one. He should have realised that he will lose in any court case against Lee and his government. He should have realized that the judiciary is no longer a legal position, it was a political office to destroy Lee's opponents. The world will end first before Jeyaretnam wins a case there against Lee.
Yet having known this, Jeyaretnam submits to the courts jurisdiction. He fights case after case. And loses each of them. Surely at some point, Jeyaretanm should have realized that this is futile. Perhaps he should have tried some other way. But no. Not Jeyaretnam. He fights the cases and loses them. He loses all his money paying Lee Kuan Yew. Faced with clearly unjust laws such as requiring a permit before one can speak in public, he obediently obeys them, serving the very purpose of Lee. He complies with each and every unjust law, and unjust order, only to prop up Lee's continued dictatorship.
I say this. Jeyaretnam should have realised as of 1974 that the rules have been changed by Lee. Fighting him by those rules will not get him anywhere. He should have broken them deliberately. He should not have submitted to the courts. He should have called mass protests. It was possible in 1974. You see, then, the people, although anesthetized and numbed into total obedience, then, they had a little bit more life. Some zest, some spontaneity. Some humanity . I say, then, if Jeyaretnam had called for protests and taken to the streets, he might have succeeded. Lee did not then as now, have a moral ground to stand on. In a clash of people, justice usually wins.
I have known the Workers Party since about 1983 to 1991, at which time I left Singapore for good. I contested 2 elections in 1988 and 1991 in his party. I knew Jeyaretnam well. I did not have sufficient clout to tell Jeyaretnam what to do. But I told him more than once, that perhaps going before Lai Kiew Chai in the High Court would perhaps not help his case, mildly put. But Jeyaretnam will not listen. He was, he claimed, guided by God, and God will not accept breaking the law, even if the law was wrong, or something to that effect. Well, Lee broke that law and still does it and gets away with it each time.
The answer lies, I think in civil disobedience to unjust laws. Dr. Chee's way. For the first time, I think, Lee is worried in not knowing what to do with Chee's style of a political fight. I think Dr. Chee is right.
Again, Jeyaretnam, in 1974 was best suited to fight Lee in an unconventional sense. Both his children were grown and self sufficient. His wife was dead. There was nothing for him to lose. One word from him, and the Barisan Socialis component of the Workers Party would have mobilised and set up pickets on the main road. Just the thought of the possibility existing then, makes me excited.
Alas, now the people of Singapore have gone into a state of inertia through long period of indoctrination and subjugation. They have become almost inanimate, humorless lifeless automatons, who will function at the press of a button. It is more difficult now to galvanize a movement.
But still I think it is possible. Dr. Chee should continue organizing protests and civil disobedience. With time more will come. And if Jeyaretnam can read this, I wish him well and if he is up to it, with his age, it would be great public service if he could join Dr. Chee and guide and advise him and join the protests
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