A reader of this blog, Lin Yu, shared the following poem about Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam earlier today:
You could have made it big, you could have been very rich
But you gave it all up for what is your belief.
You could have given in to all the troubles and you could have given up the fights
But for the love of your country, it is a thought you neither haboured nor took flight.
Alas, a son of Singapore has left us with honour and dignity
But his name and his spirit will always be in our history.
1. Lin Yu, thank you for sharing your poem. The poem has been edited for grammatical accuracy.
2. Some persons have recently initiated a petition to the Prime Minister to get the Government to preserve JBJ's "public spiritedness and love of the law". First, they desire "a professorial chair in the name of Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam be created in the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore". Second, they desire "a scholarship fund in the name of Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam for graduate studies in political science and/or constitutional law and/or civil society studies".
3. Personally, it is not in the interest of a Government controlled by the People's Action Party to do so. It will be a miracle if the Government responds positively to such an effort. Of course, it is possible, if enough backers of the Government write in to them to do so, the Government may be prompted to react in some manner. But if you know some of these backers, they will probably tell you that they have better things to do.
3. My own sense from the Cabinet's neutered response to JBJ's death is that there is a conscious lack of interest or desire to give JBJ's expiry more attention than he deserved during his lifetime. This conclusion can be drawn particularly from the condolence letter that the Prime Minister sent to JBJ's family.
4. As much as I laud the efforts of those petitioning the Prime Minister, I think they will need to do more legwork before the Government responds. For example, by raising the seed funds needed to realise what they wish to see for JBJ.
5. Fortunately, the political hero of my generation, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong had the foresight to put in place helpful measures before he stepped down as Prime Minister. He began an ambitious programme to move Singapore's local universities on a path of being self-reliant. The process of giving to our local universities is therefore far more transparent than it used to be.
6. Since the petitioners desire to give to the National University of Singapore, a "professorial chair in the name of Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam" in the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore will cost $2,000,000. The "scholarship fund in the name of Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam for graduate studies in political science and/or constitutional law and/or civil society studies" will cost $150,000.
7. A total of $2,150,000 will need to be raised. The Government will respond by matching the gift dollar-for-dollar. Singapore residents who pay taxes and contribute will also enjoy double tax deduction. Those who strongly desire to preserve JBJ's "public spiritedness and love of the law" should consider setting up a fund-raising committee to raise the necessary $2,150,000.
8. Indeed, like many other things in Singapore, we need to help ourselves first before the Government helps. If any response comes, this is probably what the Prime Minister will tell the petitioners.
Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this?