New charity to be set up under the name of former opposition MP, J B Jeyaretnam

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2 min read
Former opposition MP J. B. Jeyaretnam.
Former opposition MP J. B. Jeyaretnam. (FILE PHOTO: Robert Nickelsberg/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A new charity is to be set up under the name of the late former Workers’ Party (WP) leader J.B. Jeyaretnam, and will focus on poverty relief among marginalised groups.

His son Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who is secretary-general of the Reform Party (RP), wrote in a post on his party’s Facebook page that the charity is set up on Tuesday (5 January), the date of his father’s birthday.

It has yet to receive regulatory approval, but will be tentatively titled the J B Jeyaretnam Foundation.

“Though he can no Ionger be with us, his legacy lives on to be preserved for future generations,” Kenneth wrote in the post of his father.

“The objective of this charity will be poverty relief, concentrating on the pockets of poverty among marginalised groups that were dear to JBJ’s heart.”

The 62-year-old added in the Facebook post that the RP had held a dinner a couple of years ago to raise funds for the project, and lawyer M Ravi has agreed to do the legal work for setting up the charity at a “generously reduced rate” to match the funds already raised.

“Therefore we will not be requesting donations at this stage,” he wrote.

If approved, it will be the second charity foundation set up after a veteran opposition Member of Parliament.

The first was the Chiam See Tong Sports Fund, set up in 2017 by former Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong to support disadvantaged athletes.

J.B. Jeyaretnam, who died in September 2008 at age 82, was the first opposition party candidate to be elected as MP of independent Singapore when he won the Anson seat in a by-election in 1981. At the time, he was the WP secretary-general.

He was re-elected at the 1984 general election, but lost his seat in 1986 following a conviction for falsely accounting the party's funds, a conviction that was subsequently overturned. He returned to Parliament after the 1997 general election as a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, but was stripped of his seat in 2001 when being declared bankrupt after failing to keep up with payments for damages owed to the ruling People’s Action Party leaders as a result of a libel suit.

He was discharged from bankruptcy in 2007 and went on to form the Reform Party a year later.

Those interested to find out more about the charity can email info@jbjfoundation.org.

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