Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam
Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam (5 January 1926 – 30 September 2008; more commonly known as "J.B. Jeyaretnam" or "J.B.J.") was a politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 and lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 from Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

. He was the leader of the Workers' Party
Workers' Party of Singapore
The Workers' Party of Singapore is a centre-left opposition political party in Singapore. The party currently has six elected seats in Parliament, with the party's Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang, Chairman Sylvia Lim, Chen Show Mao, Muhamad Faisal Manap and Pritam Singh serving as Members of...

 from 1971 to 2001. In 1981, he became the first opposition
Opposition (politics)
In politics, the opposition comprises one or more political parties or other organized groups that are opposed to the government , party or group in political control of a city, region, state or country...

 politician since Singapore's independence in 1965 to win a seat in Parliament
Parliament of Singapore
The Parliament of the Republic of Singapore and the President jointly make up the legislature of Singapore. Parliament is unicameral and is made up of Members of Parliament who are elected, as well as Non-constituency Members of Parliament and Nominated Members of Parliament who are appointed...

, when he defeated the candidate of the governing People's Action Party
People's Action Party
The People's Action Party is the leading political party in Singapore. It has been the city-state's ruling political party since 1959....

 (PAP) at a by-election
A by-election is an election held to fill a political office that has become vacant between regularly scheduled elections....

 in the constituency of Anson. He was re-elected at the 1984 general election, but lost his seat in Parliament in 1986 following a conviction for falsely accounting the party's funds (a conviction that was subsequently overturned by the privy council in the UK, which called the conviction a grievous injustice.). He returned to Parliament after the 1997 general election as a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament
Non-Constituency Member of Parliament
Non-Constituency Members of Parliament are members of the opposition parties who are appointed as members of the Parliament of Singapore even though they had lost in the parliamentary election....

 (NCMP). However he was stripped of his NCMP seat in 2001 when he was declared bankrupt after failing to keep up with payments for damages owed to PAP leaders as a result of a libel suit. He left the Workers' Party later that year. He was discharged from bankruptcy in 2007, and founded the Reform Party
Reform Party (Singapore)
The Reform Party is a political party in Singapore. It was founded in 2008 by the late Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, and is currently headed by his son Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who succeeded him as party secretary-general after the elder Jeyaretnam died in 2008...

 in June 2008. He died of heart failure in September 2008, three months after founding the Reform Party which is now led by his son, Kenneth Jeyaretnam
Kenneth Jeyaretnam
Kenneth Andrew Jeyaretnam is the current Secretary-General of the Reform Party in Singapore. He is the eldest son of the late opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretnam.-Family:...



An Anglican Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 of Sri Lankan Tamil descent, Jeyaretnam was educated at St Andrew's School in Singapore, before going on to read law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...


Singapore became an independent country in 1965, and at the first post-independence general election in 1968
Singaporean general election, 1968
General elections were held in Singapore on 19 April 1968, the first after independence from Malaysia. The result was a victory for the People's Action Party, which won all 58 seats, the first of four consecutive elections in which they repeated the feat...

, the PAP won all 51 of the seats in Parliament after the main opposition party at the time, the Barisan Sosialis
Barisan Sosialis
The Barisan Sosialis is a former Singaporean left-wing political party formed in 1961, by left-wing members of the People's Action Party and led by Dr Lee Siew Choh and Lim Chin Siong.-Formation:...

, boycotted the elections. The PAP maintained this 100% electoral record at the 1972, 1976
Singaporean general election, 1976
General elections were held in Singapore on 23 December 1976. The result was a victory for the People's Action Party, which won all 69 seats, the third of four consecutive elections in which they repeated the feat...

 and 1980 general elections and all intervening by-elections up to 1981.

In 1971, Jeyaretnam led a group of lawyers who took over the opposition Workers' Party (which had been founded in 1957 by Singapore's former Chief Minister
Chief Minister of Singapore
The Chief Minister of the state of Singapore was the head of government of the State of Singapore until its abolition on 3 June 1959.-List of Chief Ministers:...

, David Marshall
David Saul Marshall
David Saul Marshall was the leader of the Singapore Labour Front and became the first Chief Minister of Singapore in 1955....

, but had become a fairly small and insignificant party during the 1960s), and became the party's Secretary-General
-International intergovernmental organizations:-International nongovernmental organizations:-Sports governing bodies:...


Jeyaretnam first stood for Parliament in at the 1972 general election, when he contested the Farrer Park
Farrer Park
Farrer Park is a historic neighbourhood in the central part of Singapore, located at the end of Little India. Farrer Park is defined by the boundary formed by Dorset Road, Hampshire Road and Northumberland Road.-Etymology:...

 constituency and lost to the PAP's Lee Chiaw Meng by 23.1% of the vote to 73.8% (with a third candidate taking 3.1%). At the 1976 general election, he contested Kampong Chai Chee
Chai Chee
Chai Chee is a neighbourhood within Bedok New Town in Singapore. The area was formerly a small village known as Kampong Chai Chee. It is served by two major namesake roads, namely Chai Chee Street and Chai Chee Drive, with minor lanes of Chai Chee Road, Chai Chee Avenue and the original Jalan Chai...

, and lost to the PAP's Andrew Fong by 40.1% to 59.9%. In 1977, he contested a by-election in Radin Mas
Radin mas
Radin Mas is a neighbourhood within Telok Blangah Estate, located in Bukit Merah, Singapore.- Etymology :The area was named after Radin Mas Ayu, a princess of the Javanese Royal Court...

, and was defeated by PAP candidate Bernard Chen by 29.4% to 70.6%. He then contested Telok Blangah
Telok Blangah
Telok Blangah is a district in Singapore to the south-west of the Central Business District in the southern part of the island. It is part of the Bukit Merah Planning Area, an urban planning zone under the Urban Redevelopment Authority.-Etymology:...

 at a 1979 by-election and the 1980 election, losing to the PAP's Rohan bin Kamis both times by 38.8% to 61.2% in 1979, and by 47.0% to 53.0% in 1980.

Election to Parliament

In 1981, at a by-election in Anson, Jeyaretnam defeated the PAP candidate, Pang Kim Hin, to become Singapore's first opposition Member of Parliament (MP). Jeyaretnam won 7,012 votes (51.9%) to Pang's 6,359 (47.1%), with a third candidate taking 131 votes (1.0%).

Jeyaretnam was re-elected as the constituency's MP at the 1984 general election, in which he defeated the PAP's Ng Pock Too by 9,909 votes (56.8%) to 7,533 (43.2%). He was one of two opposition MPs elected to Parliament at the 1984 general election (the other being the leader of the Singapore Democratic Party
Singapore Democratic Party
The Singapore Democratic Party is an opposition political party in Singapore.The party was founded in 1980 by Chiam See Tong, who as Secretary-General became the party's first Member of Parliament in 1984 when he was elected as MP for Potong Pasir...

, Chiam See Tong
Chiam See Tong
Chiam See Tong is a politician and lawyer from Singapore. He is the country's longest-serving opposition Member of Parliament . Between 1984 and 2011, he represented the constituency of Potong Pasir in Singapore's Parliament....


Removal from Parliament

Jeyaretnam was subsequently brought down by a series of charges which he claimed were politically-motivated to remove him from Parliament and prevent him from taking part in future elections. Two months after his 1984 re-election, Jeyaretnam and Workers' Party Chairman
Party Chair
In politics, a party chair is the presiding officer of a political party....

 Wong Hong Toy were charged for allegedly misreporting his party accounts.

In 1986, Senior District Judge Michael Khoo found him innocent of all charges but one. But the prosecution appealed, and the Chief Justice
Chief Justice of Singapore
The Chief Justice of Singapore is the highest post in the judicial system of Singapore. The Chief Justice is appointed by the President, chosen from candidates recommended by the Prime Minister. The present Chief Justice is Chan Sek Keong....

 ordered a retrial in a different district court
Subordinate Courts of Singapore
The Subordinate Courts of Singapore is one of the two tiers of the court system in Singapore, the other tier being the Supreme Court. The Subordinate Courts comprise the District and Magistrate Courts—both of which oversee civil and criminal matters—as well as specialised family, juvenile,...

 rather than an appeal in the Supreme Court (thus denying Jeyaretnam the opportunity to appeal a revised verdict to the Privy Council
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 in the United Kingdom). At the retrial, Jeyaretnam was declared guilty on all charges. The judge sentenced him to three months' imprisonment (later commuted to one month) and fined him S$
Singapore dollar
The Singapore dollar or Dollar is the official currency of Singapore. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively S$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies...

5,000 – a sentence sufficient to disqualify him from serving in Parliament and prevent him from standing in parliamentary elections for a period of five years. He was also disbarred
Disbarment is the removal of a lawyer from a bar association or the practice of law, thus revoking his or her law license or admission to practice law...

 as a lawyer. (Judge Michael Khoo was transferred from head of the Subordinate Court to the Attorney-General's Chambers shortly after, a move widely viewed as a demotion. When Jeyaretnam called for an enquiry into the transfer, alleging that the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General were "beholden" to Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Singapore
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore is the head of the government of the Republic of Singapore. The President of Singapore appoints as Prime Minister a Member of Parliament who, in his opinion, is most likely to command the confidence of a majority of MPs.The office of Prime Minister...

 Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew, GCMG, CH is a Singaporean statesman. He was the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, governing for three decades...

, the allegation was dismissed as "scandalous".)

Appeal to the Privy Council

Since the trial had been held in a district court, Jeyaretnam could not appeal the conviction. But he exercised his right to appeal his disbarment to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The Council duly reversed the judgment, noting:
"Their Lordships have to record their deep disquiet that by a series of misjudgements, the appellant and his co-accused Wong, have suffered a grievous injustice. They have been fined, imprisoned and publicly disgraced for offences of which they are not guilty. The appellant, in addition, has been deprived of his seat in Parliament
Parliament of Singapore
The Parliament of the Republic of Singapore and the President jointly make up the legislature of Singapore. Parliament is unicameral and is made up of Members of Parliament who are elected, as well as Non-constituency Members of Parliament and Nominated Members of Parliament who are appointed...

 and disqualified for a year from practising his profession. Their Lordships order restores him to the roll of advocate
An advocate is a term for a professional lawyer used in several different legal systems. These include Scotland, South Africa, India, Scandinavian jurisdictions, Israel, and the British Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man...

s and solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

s of the Supreme Court of Singapore, but, because of the course taken by the criminal proceedings, their Lordships have no power to right the other wrongs which the appellant and Wong have suffered. Their only prospect of redress
In film, a redress is the redecoration of an existing movie set, so that it can double for another set. This saves the trouble and expenses of constructing a second, new set, though they face the difficulty of doing it so the average viewer does not notice the same set is reused...

, their Lordships understand, will be by way of petition for pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

 to the President
President of Singapore
The President of the Republic of Singapore is Singapore's head of state. In a Westminster parliamentary system, as which Singapore governs itself, the prime minister is the head of the government while the position of president is largely ceremonial. Before 1993, the President of Singapore was...

 of the Republic of Singapore."

Following the decision of the Privy Council, Jeyaretnam wrote to the President of Singapore, Wee Kim Wee, to ask that the convictions be removed as a result of the Privy Council's decision. However the Singapore government strongly condemned the Privy Council's judgement and Wee, on the advice of the Cabinet
Cabinet of Singapore
The Cabinet of Singapore forms the Government of Singapore together with the President of Singapore. It is led by the Prime Minister of Singapore who is the head of government...

, refused to remove the convictions. Jeyaretnam therefore remained disqualified from Parliament until 1991. Singapore judges also refused to reverse his convictions.

Defamation suits

Though Jeyaretnam was barred from contesting the 1988 general election, he spoke at election rallies held by the Workers' Party during the campaign. At one election rally, he challenged the PAP's claim to being an open and transparent government, and asked whether any investigation had been conducted as to how the former Minister for National Development
Ministry of National Development (Singapore)
The Ministry of National Development is a ministry of the Government of Singapore that directs the formulation and implementation of policies related to land use planning and infrastructure development...

, Teh Cheang Wan
Teh Cheang Wan
Teh Cheang Wan was an architect who was in charge of the Housing Development Board as Minister for National Development of Singapore. He served as the minister between 1979 to 1986.-Education:...

, had obtained the tablets with which he had committed suicide in the midst of being investigated for corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

. He also asked whether Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had replied to a letter written to him by Teh. Following this, Lee commenced proceedings for slander against Jeyaretnam, alleging his words at the election rally implied that he had committed a criminal offence by aiding and abetting Teh to commit suicide, and thereby had tried to cover up Teh's corruption. The action was heard by Justice Lai Kew Chai
Lai Kew Chai
Justice Lai Kew Chai was the longest-serving member of the Supreme Court Bench, having served for almost 25 years as a Judge.Born in Tanjung Malim, Perak, he received his early education at Methodist English School at his hometown in 1950, and at the Methodist Boys' School, Kuala Lumpur in...

, who found against Jeyaretnam and ordered him to pay damages of S$260,000 plus costs to Lee. Jeyaretnam lost an appeal against the judgement. He had wanted to appeal to the Privy Council, but to do that, he had to obtain Lee's consent before the hearing by the Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal of Singapore
The Court of Appeal of the Republic of Singapore is the nation's highest court and its court of final appeal. It is the upper division of the Supreme Court of Singapore, the lower being the High Court. The Court of Appeal consists of the Chief Justice of Singapore, who is the President of the...

. This was because the law relating to appeals to the Privy Council had been changed after the Privy Council's judgement restoring Jeyaretnam to the roll of advocates and solicitors. Appeals to the Privy Council by lawyers from any order made by a court of three judges under the Legal Profession Act were abolished. In criminal cases, the right of appeal from the Court of Criminal Appeal to the Privy Council was also abolished. In civil cases, an appeal was allowed only if the other party consented to it. Lee did not give his consent.

In 1995, Jeyaretnam authored an article in the Workers' Party newspaper, The Hammer, which alleged that a number of those involved in an event called the Tamil Language Week were government "stooges". For this, he was sued twice for libel by Indian
Indian people
Indian people or Indisians constitute the Asian nation and pan-ethnic group native to India, which forms the south of Asia, containing 17.31% of the world's population. The Indian nationality is in essence made up of regional nationalities, reflecting the rich and complex history of India...

 PAP leaders, resulting in total damages of S$465,000 and S$250,000 in court costs.

Return to Parliament

Jeyaretnam was unable to contest the 1991 general election as it was held a few months before his parliamentary ban expired. However the Workers' Party did gain a new MP in that election when its Assistant Secretary-General, Low Thia Khiang
Low Thia Khiang
Low Thia Khiang is a politician and businessman from Singapore. He is currently the leader of the opposition Workers' Party, and since 1991 has been a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Hougang until 2011 where he contested and won in Aljunied GRC. He is in charge of the Bedok...

, was elected in the constituency of Hougang
Hougang Single Member Constituency
Hougang Single Member Constituency is a Single Member Constituency whose borders roughly enclose the town of Hougang, located in the north-eastern area of Singapore. The boundary includes a portion of Hougang and is an opposition held seat with its Member of Parliament the Workers' Party's Yaw...

. Some critics speculated that Singapore's new Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong
Goh Chok Tong
Goh Chok Tong is the Senior Minister of Singapore and the chairman of the central bank of Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He also served as the second Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore from 28 November 1990 to 12 August 2004, succeeding Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime...

, has called the general election in 1991 even though he could have waited another two years in order to prevent Jeyaretnam from standing. However Goh insisted that he had done so to gain a personal mandate shortly after becoming Prime Minister in 1990, and noted that he planned to hold a by-election in 1992 (with the aim of bringing new blood into the PAP's parliamentary team) in which Jeyaretnam would be eligible to stand. The 1992 by-election was held in the Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency
Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency
Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency is a six-member Group Representation Constituency located in the central, eastern and north-eastern areas of Singapore. The constituency consists of a section of Bedok, Chai Chee, Geylang, Kaki Bukit, Kallang, Kembangan, Marine Parade, Mountbatten,...

 (in which parties had to field a slate of four candidates), and was expected to mark the return of Jeyaretnam as a parliamentary candidate. But one of the Workers' Party's candidates backed out at the last minute and failed to turn up on nomination day, preventing the party from registering its team for the election.

At the 1997 general election, Jeyaretnam stood as a Workers' Party candidate in the Cheng San Group Representation Constituency
Cheng San Group Representation Constituency
Cheng San Group Representation Constituency is a now defunct Group Representation Constituency in the north-eastern region in Singapore...

. The party lost to the PAP's team in the constituency by 45.2% of the votes to 54.8%. Low was re-elected as the MP for Hougang, and Chiam See Tong (who had left the Singapore Democratic Party to join the Singapore People's Party
Singapore People's Party
The Singapore People's Party is a left of centre opposition political party in Singapore. The party's leader is Chiam See Tong.-Foundation:...

) was re-elected as the MP for Potong Pasir
Potong Pasir Single Member Constituency
Potong Pasir Single Member Constituency is a Single Member Constituency in the central region of Singapore.-Location:The SMC encompasses Potong Pasir, Lorong 8 Toa Payoh and Tannery...

. As only two opposition MPs had been elected, one NCMP seat was offered to Workers' Party to be taken by a member of their team from Cheng San (as their team had garnered the highest percentage of the vote of any opposition losing candidates), and the party selected Jeyaretnam to return to Parliament as its NCMP.

Second removal from Parliament

After the 1997 general election, 11 defamation suits were filed against Jeyaretnam for comments he made at an election rally in support of another of the Workers' Party's candidates in Cheng San, lawyer Tang Liang Hong
Tang Liang Hong
Tang Liang Hong is a politician and lawyer from Singapore.Tang stood as a candidate for the opposition Workers' Party in the Cheng San Group Representation Constituency at the 1997 general election...

 (who Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had accused of being a Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 chauvinist). Jeyaretnam had announced at the rally that: "Mr Tang Liang Hong has just placed before me, two reports he has made to the police against, you know, Mr Goh Chok Tong and his people". Prime Minister Goh alleged that, as a result of this, his "reputation, moral authority and leadership standing have been gravely injured both local and internationally", and during cross-examination by Jeyaretnam's counsel, George Carman
George Carman
George Alfred Carman, QC , was a leading English barrister of the 1980s and 1990s. He first came to the attention of the general public in 1979, when he successfully defended the former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe after he was charged with conspiracy to murder...

Queen's Counsel
Queen's Counsel , known as King's Counsel during the reign of a male sovereign, are lawyers appointed by letters patent to be one of Her [or His] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law...

, likened the statement to throwing a Molotov cocktail
Molotov cocktail
The Molotov cocktail, also known as the petrol bomb, gasoline bomb, Molotov bomb, fire bottle, fire bomb, or simply Molotov, is a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons...

. However, on further questioning, Goh also stated that "it has been a good year" for him and his standing as a leader had not been injured. Trial judge J Rajendran found Jeyaretnam liable and ordered him to pay damages of S$20,000. Goh described these damages as "derisory" and appealed. On appeal, the damages were raised to S$100,000 plus S$20,000 in court costs. (Rajendran was later dismissed from the bench.)

In 2001, after an installment on his damages was overdue, Jeyaretnam was declared bankrupt. As undischarged bankrupts are barred from serving in Parliament, he therefore lost his NCMP seat. He was also disbarred. He was unable to stand as a candidate in the 2001 general election. In October 2001, he resigned as Secretary-General of the Workers' Party and was replaced by Low Thia Khiang. The transfer of party leadership took place in bitter acrimony as Jeyaretnam later accused Low of not doing enough to help him pay the damages from the libel suits (though Low claimed that he had always looked upon Jeyaretnam as an elder and had done everything possible to help him). Shortly after he stepped down as Secretary-General, Jeyaretnam left the party.

To earn money to pay off his debts, Jeyaretnam sold copies of his book Make it Right for Singapore (ISBN 9810422261), which contained the text of some of his parliamentary speeches from 1997 and 2000. He also authored another book, The Hatchet Man of Singapore (ISBN 9810485131), describing his legal trials.

Documentary film

In 2002, a documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 on Jeyaretnam entitled A Vision of Persistence was withdrawn from the Singapore International Film Festival
Singapore International Film Festival
The Singapore International Film Festival was launched in 1987. The festival is an annual film event, held around April/May each year, and screens about 300 films from over 45 countries...

 for fear that it violated a law banning political films. The makers of the 15-minute documentary submitted written apologies and withdrew it from being screened after they were told that they could be charged in court. The film-makers, all lecturers at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Ngee Ann Polytechnic , is an institute of higher learning in Singapore, founded in 1963 as Ngee Ann College with 116 students...

, had claimed that they had just chanced upon Jeyaretnam selling his books on a street and decided to make a documentary on him, unaware at first that he was a major opposition figure. A little-known law called the Films Act bans the making, distribution and showing of films containing "wholly or partly, either partisan or biased references to, or comments on any political matter" in Singapore. An unnamed source said a government official went to Ngee Ann Polytechnic and asked: "How can your staff do this sort of thing?" A person familiar with the case stated: "It's a sort of paranoia
Paranoia [] is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself...

 on the part of the authorities." Philip Cheah, the director of the film festival, said that he saw the documentary, but declined to comment on its contents. "It should have been shown at the festival. Then people can decide", he said, adding that, as far as he knew, this was the first film that was considered political under the Films Act.

Discharge from bankruptcy

On 25 October 2004, Jeyaretnam appealed for an early discharge from bankruptcy so that he could contest in the next general election. He appeared before a three-judge Court of Appeal, Singapore's highest Court, asking to be discharged. Representing himself during the two-hour hearing, Jeyaretnam appealed on the grounds that he wanted another chance to contribute to society. He offered to pay one-third of the more than S$600,000 he still owed his claimants. Thus far, he had paid less than S$30,000. The official assignee, Sarjit Singh, opposed Jeyaretnam's appeal, claiming that Jeyaretnam had lied about his assets and calling him "the most dishonest bankrupt I have ever come across". He said this because Jeyaretnam had not declared a property he had bought in Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru is the capital city of Johor in southern Malaysia. Johor Bahru is the southernmost city of the Eurasian mainland...

 in Malaysia, worth more than S$350,000. At the same time, Davinder Singh
Davinder Singh
Davinder Singh Sachdev s/o Amar Singh SC is one of Singapore's foremost trial and appellate lawyer, having attained the title of Senior Counsel in 1997, and having been described by Asia Pacific Legal 500 2009/2010 as being "without peer at the bar"...

, the legal counsel acting on behalf of eight of the claimants, argued that this case threw up issues far wider than Jeyaretnam's appeal. He said that if Jeyaretnam was discharged as a bankrupt, it could set a dangerous precedent and the courts could be flooded with similar appeals from bankrupts seeking early discharge.

Jeyaretnam was discharged from bankruptcy in May 2007 after paying S$233,255.78. He was reinstated to the bar in September that year.

Founding of the Reform Party

On 18 June 2008, Jeyaretnam announced that the Registry of Societies had approved the formation of a new political party, the Reform Party
Reform Party (Singapore)
The Reform Party is a political party in Singapore. It was founded in 2008 by the late Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, and is currently headed by his son Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who succeeded him as party secretary-general after the elder Jeyaretnam died in 2008...

, of which he would be the Secretary-General. He planned to stand as a candidate for the party in future elections. However he did not get a chance to do so as he died three months after the party was formed.


Jeyaretnam died on 30 September 2008 at the age of 82. He complained of breathing difficulties in the early-morning, and was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Tan Tock Seng Hospital
The Tan Tock Seng Hospital is the second-largest hospital in Singapore after the Singapore General Hospital, but its accident and emergency department is the busiest in the country largely due to its geographically centralised location...

. Doctors were unable to revive him after he arrived at the hospital.

Following his death, Jeyaretnam's son Kenneth took over the leadership of the Reform Party.

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