Wednesday, October 1, 2008

what a tainted letter


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 won't highlight the sentences that were inappropriate to the recipients.

i'm not the recipient, but the letter carried underlying messages i can read out from. Not a single sentence, but one after another.

look - people expected negative responses to a condolence letter from anyone in a rival party. But at the least, be sensitive. If there are bad things to talk about, don't mention it in the letter. Furthermore, the letterhead stated the sender in big lettering. Now, the pie of people who confirmed the ruling party is ignorant and arrogant has just gotten bigger.

this is an insult to the dead, an insult to the political system of Singapore, an insult to the people of Singapore.


Mockingbird said...

JBJ's death is one less thorn in the flesh for PAP. But after JBJ's death, someone else will take his place to be a pain in PAPpy's ass.

And CSJ seems to relish so much in this role of his as a perennial pang and prick to PAPpy.

zhiming said...

At JBJ's age, he was more or less insignificant to his rivals. The disappointment was the insensitivity of our world class leader(s) towards his passing.

And CSJ seemed to be written off by some of our common people as well. His credibility is just not as shiny compared to other well heard opposition politicians.