Thursday, October 2, 2008

If you want to take on the PAP, it should never be on a bended knee - Gomez's tribute to JBJ

Never on a bended knee: a tribute to JBJ
by James Gomez, 1 Oct 2008

To be a genuine democrat in Singapore is to have been touched by JB Jeyaretnam. Whether as an individual, member of a civil society group or an opposition party one way or another we would all have come across or had some direct contact with JBJ. That's why his loss is so personal to us and that's why we feel his absence very directly.

My first direct contact with JBJ was in 1988 when as President, of the Philosophy Society and a first year undergraduate at NUS, I invited him to speak on Political Freedoms in Singapore on campus. You can only imagine what kind of university red tape and nay saying I had to face from fellow undergraduates in organising that talk. Nevertheless we succeeded, and he spoke to a full house at Lecture Hall 11.

In 2001, I had the opportunity to organise with others the Save JBJ Rally. More red tape again but again the organisers prevailed and we managed to pull the event off. Later in 2003, it was my pleasure and privilege to prepare and deliver the citation for JBJ when he received Think Centre's Human Rights award. Over the next years we had several more opportunities to interact.

While saddened by his demise, I prefer to look ahead. He has done good work and this is something we need to build on. More importantly the tone of the struggle needs to be borne in mind. If you want to take on the PAP, it should never be on a bended knee. That much I have learned from JBJ.

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