Thursday, October 2, 2008

Don't They Know How To KISS?

If only PM and SM know how to KISS, the grief and loss felt by Singaporeans who adore, admire and respect Mr Joshua Benjamin Jeyaratnam would have been less painful.

It is not nice to score political cookie points during the bereavement of others. It's even worse if it's used as a means to demonstrate one's compassion and kindness while going on a camouflaged political demolition exercise. From a broken-hearted heartlander's perception, it's not constructive in nation building.

In the letter of condolence, if only "I was sad to learn that your father, Mr Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, has passed away. Please accept my deepest condolences." and the paragraphs in between were omitted, it would seem more sincere.

If only they could "keep it simple, stupid"!

Call it good manners, EQ or whatever, I would have expected the PM and SM of Singapore to be more sensitive to the sensitivities of others!

With such empathy and sympathy shown in the letter and comments below, we can understand the lament of the MM when he said we are a long, long way from being a gracious society.

Call me sensitive but I feel it's a little callous on the part of the leaders.


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


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.



30 September 2008


At October 3, 2008 at 11:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously like father like son. LHL has no class. He is not even 10% of the man JBJ is.

At October 3, 2008 at 11:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

JBJ will live forever in the hearts and minds of the people who want a voice but the respect for the PM is dead amongst many.
Suicidal letter...hahaha.

At October 3, 2008 at 5:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to say this, this letter from Lee Hsien Loong is not a letter of condolence, but a letter how a person would write to the deceased family when his longtime enemy is dead. What a shame!

JBJ has fought the good fight, and his name will go down the annals of Singapore political history as one shining, endearing star...

At October 3, 2008 at 8:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

God...i can't even start to imagine what he'll write had it been CSJ. Will it be the Mother of all condolence letter?

At October 4, 2008 at 12:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both Goh and Lee are afraid that the sons of JBJ will take up the mantle of their father and carry on with his fight for democracy. They resorted to the "if not for us, you would have been jobless" line. The thinly veiled threat is that everything you have, the PAP can take away and the message is to think thrice before you step into the fray.

At October 4, 2008 at 12:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


most Singaporeans will remember PM Lee Hsien Loong and SM Goh Chok Tong for a long time but for the wrong reasons.

No good for them(LHL,GCT), tarnished their forebears and damaging to their offsprings.

hope they will make amendments before visiting Mr JB Jeyaretnam again.


At October 4, 2008 at 3:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe they are too used to writing condolence letter for their own party pple and they must include good things that the deceased has done in their condolence when someone who has been opposing them for a long long time passed away, they are at a lost of how to write the condolence letter...instead of mentioning the good that the deceased has done, they mentioned the good that they themselves have done....

At October 4, 2008 at 5:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would feel extremely uncomfortable if I were Kenneth or Philip, because LHL's condolence letter, being made public, gives the impression to Singaporeans that the brothers were pleading for help from GCT. At the same time it is an attempt to show that the PAP people are benevolent and forgiving. It is no more than an attempt to gain political capital at the expense of the brother's misery and grief. How mean can some people be?

At November 4, 2008 at 4:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karl Marx Says:

You know what is really SAD? Singaporean are the one that put them and their team UP THERE.

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is like at last u r dead n ,i'm here to see that u r properly buried.

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