Report: Singapore opposition head dies

Joshua B. Jeyaretnam, Singapore's best known and most dogged opposition leader, who fought a lone battle against the powerful ruling establishment despite being driven to bankruptcy, died Tuesday. He was 82, reported CNN.

Jeyaretnam, often referred to as J.B.J, died at a local hospital of heart failure, his assistant Ng Teck Siong told The Associated Press.

"It's a great loss for the country. He really believed in democracy and never stopped fighting for Singapore," he said.

In recent years, Jeyaretnam -- once a wealthy, flamboyant and high-profile lawyer -- had stood on street corners and outside subway stations to peddle his own books about Singapore politics, because no retailer would stock them.

Jeyaretnam's one-man street sales were a striking commentary on the iron-fisted control that the ruling People's Action Party wields over Singapore.

The book sales were also meant to raise money to help pay off damages stemming from defamation suits Jeyaretnam lost to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Lee's father and Singapore's founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, former Prime ministers Goh Chok Tong, and others.

"It's a very heavy price I have paid" for taking on the government, Jeyaretnam, the first opposition member to be elected to Parliament, told The Associated Press recently.

The government did not immediately respond to Jeyaretnam's death.

Jeyaretnam served as a member of parliament from 1981 to 1986 and from 1997 to 2001 for the Workers' Party, which he founded. He left the party in 2001 and helped form the Reform Party this year. He was planning to run in the next parliament election, due by 2011.

Jeyaretnam, whose thick white whiskers and misty eyes made him instantly recognizable, often faced jeers and catcalls in Parliament from the ruling People's Action Party, whose members have always vastly outnumbered the opposition.

At present, the opposition holds two out of 84 elected seats in Parliament.

The PAP has ruled Singapore since independence from Malaysia in 1965. Although it has provided a high standard of living and prosperity to Singapore's 4.5 million people, the government is often accused of stifling civil liberties, freedom of speech and political space.

A socialist at heart, Jeyaretnam contended that the government's economic policies created a wealthy upper class and an underbelly of poor citizens who have to work twice as hard to survive. He also often railed against what he called the "Lee dynasty," a reference to Lee Kuan Yew and his prime minister son.

Jeyaretnam's views inevitably got him into trouble with the Lees and other government leaders, who frequently sued him for defamation. He said he had lost count of how many times he had been sued -- and lost.

He estimated that he paid out more than S$1.6 million ($925,000) in damages and court costs over the years.

After losing the last defamation case, Jeyaretnam declared bankruptcy in 2001, unable to pay the fine of about $367,000 in damages stemming from defamation lawsuits brought by the two Lees and Goh.

He was found guilty of defaming them at a 1997 election rally, when he said a colleague had filed a police report accusing the ruling party leaders of defamation. Jeyaretnam emerged from bankruptcy last year.

"Outside of Singapore ... Jeyaretnam's allegedly defamatory words would not have excited comment -- let alone prompted actions of this kind," Amnesty International said at the time.

The government argues that such defamation suits are necessary to uphold the integrity of its leaders, saying any aspersions on their character would reduce the respect they command and hence compromise their ability to govern the fragile multiracial society properly.

An Anglican Christian of Sri Lankan Tamil decent, Jeyaretnam attended Saint Andrew's School in Singapore and University College London where he earned a bachelor's degree in law.

His wife, Margaret, whom he had met when they were law students in Britain, died of breast cancer a year before he was elected to Parliament in 1981.

Jeyaretnam is survived by two sons, Kenneth and Philip. The funeral will be held later Tuesday.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Kazakhstan discloses data on mutual trade with top CIS partners
Kazakhstan discloses data on mutual trade with top CIS partners
CSTO and military of Kazakhstan to develop plan for transfer of protected facilities to local security forces
CSTO and military of Kazakhstan to develop plan for transfer of protected facilities to local security forces
Tajikistan looks to build new solar power plant with help from Iranian companies
Tajikistan looks to build new solar power plant with help from Iranian companies
Loading Bars
Latest
Kazakhstan launches investigative procedures against wholesalers of liquefied gas
Money transfers from Georgia up
Price indexes of construction, trade sectors at Uzbek stock exchange rise
Kazakh crude production inches up - OPEC
Uzbekistan sells number of its large enterprises as part of privatization program
Russian Economy Ministry unveils priority spheres for co-op with Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan approves operational action plan to stabilize internal socio-economic situation
Baku residents express their gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev for highly appreciating activity of Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation holds general meeting (PHOTO)
Overall index of Tehran Stock Exchange drops on Jan. 18
Uzbekistan reveals volume of mortgage loans issued in 2021
Expenses of Turkish citizens in Georgia increase
SOFAZ’s budget revenues up
ANAMA talks heavily mined Azerbaijan's territories
SOFAZ sees significant increase in revenues from oil & gas agreements
Georgia reveals its major motor oil supplying countries
Azerbaijan’s State Oil Fund sees increase in assets
Growth of Azerbaijan's non-oil sector reaches all-time high
Chief of General Staff of Azerbaijani Army meets with Bulgarian delegation (PHOTO)
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds
FAO eyes another Partnership Programme on Food and Agriculture project in Turkmenistan
Azerbaijan to see increase in asylum seekers - deputy chairman of Supreme Court
Central Bank of Azerbaijan works consistently to curb inflation
Iran unveils amount of honey gathered countrywide
Kazakhstan’s Atyrau Oil Refinery to buy gaseous nitrogen via tender
Kazakhstan's economic growth is expected to accelerate in 2022 - Renaissance Capital
New military facilities commissioned in Azerbaijani liberated territories (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijan increases marketable oil and gas production
Russia starts manufacturing reactor for Kudankulam nuclear power plant
Number of foreigners receives labour permits in Azerbaijan - State Migration Service
Azerbaijan eyes to raise quota for issuing labor permits to foreigners this year - State Migration Service
India at UNSC: Looking forward to Sudan's successful completion of transition phase
Uzbekistan notes growth in macroeconomic indicators
Jaishankar speaks with EU counterpart, discusses Afghanistan, Myanmar
OPEC expects Azerbaijan to boost oil output in 2022
UK regulator fines Mastercard, others for prepaid cards cartel
PM Modi: Best time to invest in India, multilateral institutions need reforms
Ministry unveils number of companies with Russian capital in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani citizens without COVID-19 passports won't be allowed to buy tickets for bus trips to liberated lands
Azerbaijan creates website for trips to liberated Karabakh
Iran strikes deal with Romania for export of technical, engineering services
No mine threat in Azerbaijan's Shusha - ANAMA
Gas transportation through South Caucasus Pipeline increases
Azerbaijan plans to demine tens of thousands of hectares of liberated territories - ANAMA
USAID’s support can increase foreign direct investment in Turkmenistan - official
UNHCR thanks Azerbaijan
Indian Prime Minister delivers ‘State of World’ special address at World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda
Largest philanthropist not only in Azerbaijan, but also in South Caucasus is Heydar Aliyev Foundation - President Ilham Aliyev
Kazakhstan discloses systematic measures to reduce inflation rate
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan's oil transportation from Azerbaijan down
I was offered few alternative locations for statue, and I chose this place, because it is place worthy of name of Zeynalabdin Taghiyev - president
Kazakhstan's President Tokayev to be elected chairman of Nur Otan party soon - First President of Kazakhstan
By sending hundreds of students to Russia and Europe, Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev clearly thought about future - President Ilham Aliyev
As result of Heydar Aliyev Foundation's activities, Azerbaijan is better known, and it was this factor that helped us during Second Karabakh War - President Ilham Aliyev
Today, Heydar Aliyev Foundation faces new tasks - President Ilham Aliyev
Sinopec gets first LNG cargo under new deal with Qatar
Brent to breach $100/bbl as demand weathers virus surge- Goldman Sachs
Azerbaijan ranks among top aviation fuel exporters to Georgia
I'm on deserved rest in capital and haven't left anywhere - first president of Kazakhstan
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 18
Russia documents 31,252 daily COVID-19 cases, highest number since December 6
USAID supports Turkmen government and local partners to improve securities market
Websites that will make the work of Graphic Designers easier
UNHCR discloses number of Azerbaijani refugees provided with legal assistance before Second Karabakh War (PHOTO)
Production of Iran's Khorasan Steel Company increases
National Iranian Oil Company to take steps on development of North Pars gas field
Azerbaijan fils lawsuits against Armenia to European Court of Human Rights
Non-OPEC crude oil supply to continue upward trend by 2023
Visitors from Azerbaijan to Georgia spend less in 2021 - NBG
Europe to see increase in jet fuel demand – JP Morgan
Iran’s NISOC announces date for launch of extraction from Kish gas field
Israel sticks with 4th vaccine shot, sees Omicron wave waning in a week
Uzbek Central Bank shares data on volume of reserve assets and gold reserves
Azerbaijani public representatives send appeal to French President
Iran's economic growth improves - CBI
Oil demand set to rise by 2023, says JP Morgan
Central Bank of Iran discloses amount of loans issued for agricultural sector
Azerbaijan increases wine imports from Georgia
Epsilon obtains industrial gas inflow from new well at field in Uzbekistan
AFAB Cataract Campaigns on Int’l Day of Elderly in Niger (FOTO)
JP Morgan expects Azerbaijan’s oil output to decline in 2022-2023
Amount of loans issued by Iranian banks soars
NIOC intends to extract gas from Iran-Saudi Arabia joint Farzad B gas field
Azerbaijani FM leaves for Austria on working visit
Iran sees increase in trade turnover with ECO member states
UAE bourses open in red after Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi
Time of market test for Greece-North Macedonia gas pipeline announced
Azerbaijan holding talks on regular flights to Fuzuli Int’l Airport – deputy minister
Georgia reveals wine export growth dynamics in strategic markets
Azerbaijan reveals procedure of buying tickets for bus trips to liberated lands
Trips to Azerbaijan's liberated areas on all routes to be carried out in one day - ministry
At first stage only Azerbaijani citizens allowed to visit Karabakh – deputy minister
Citizens can visit liberated districts of Azerbaijan once a year - agency (PHOTO)
Police cars to accompany passenger buses through Azerbaijani liberated lands
Azerbaijan discloses cost of bus trips to liberated areas (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan to launch regular bus trips to Karabakh soon
Kazakhstan to keep inflation in energy sector within set borders - ministry
President Ilham Aliyev unveils monument to philanthropist Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev in Baku (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Iran’s NIOC interested in increasing gas exports
Azerbaijan discloses loans of banks being liquidated by Deposit Insurance Fund
All news