According to former Reform Party member Osman Sulaiman, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sent a “condolence letter” Philip Jeyaretnam and Kenneth Jeyaretnam after the passing of JB Jeyaretnam. However, according to Mr Sulaiman, the contents of the “condolence letter” were “out of place, insincere and unbefitting of his [PM Lee’s] stature”


Some say to give respect to our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (LHL) as his father, Lee Kuan Yew is battling to stay alive and is in critical condition.

People may not have read the condolence letter our PM sent to Kenneth Jeyaretnam when his father, the great JBJ passed away. I find PM Lee’s condolence letter out of place, insincere and unbefitting of his stature.

In it, LHL accused JBJ of helping “neither to build up a constructive opposition, nor our parliamentary tradition.” He also used his condolence message to further magnify the supposedly benevolence of the then, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.

For a head of state to use a condolence letter other than its purpose and dispense with social propriety will only cause the nation to be polarized. Leaders should not seek to divide but unite. They should display positive characteristics for others to emulate.

Maybe this is why, some people have indeed shown their outright disrespect towards LKY without due consideration to his family members. Our leaders have not thought about the importance of displaying exemplary conduct.

I reproduced the condolence letter verbatim below and let readers to decide if its content is appropriate to send to the family members of the dead man.

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

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