Encounters with JBJ in JB


I hope all of you are having a good Raya break.

But let us remember our Muslim brother undergoing detention without trial, in Kamunting or elsewhere.

Read Farish Noor’s ‘Eidil Fitri in prison’ (Aliran) and Raja Petra’s ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ (Malaysia Today) from Kamunting.

I wish all Muslim readers a joyous celebration with their loved ones and friends.

Blog reader RastamanJB shares with us how as a stranger, he met and got to know the legendary J B Jeyaretnam:

I met him many times at the Kerala Reastaurant, Jalan Ibrahim, JB, and chatted with him about his WP.

He was a man worth his salt. His steadfastness and righteousness was there for all to see. It is a shame that we do not have anyone, and I repeat anyone, on both sides of the border to match him.

He was a very approachable person and talked to anyone who acknowledged him. A simple man, with his trade mark side-burns, collared T-shirts and short pants and sandals… popped into JB very often for his thosai and air suam.

My first encounter with him was in the late 1980s at the Kerala outlet and I was sort of mesmerised to start a conversation with him. However, the many repeated encounters somewhat thawed my anxiety and thereafter we were familiar to each other. He would always address me, “Hello, young man”, and I would call him “Sir” and our conversation would usually centre on the political happenings of our countries.

Can I equate him with Karpal? No, he was a few notches above him. Can I equate him with D R Seenivasagam? Yes, he was as fearless as DRS, a fighter at that.

I also had the misfortune to meet up with him after the demise of his wife – and that was the only time he was at his lowest. His eyes welled with tears as he spoke to me of his only love. He really felt bad for her and regretted that he did not do enough for her. It was a moment that has stood memorably for me thus far.

He advised me repeatedly to stop my smoking habit. He told me that LKY was an incorrigible smoker during the 60s and eventually became a non-smoker. I will never forget his fatherly advice tho’ I still puff away.

I feel privileged to have befriended a LEGEND who was a simpleton fighting for the masses.

And he never expected any returns.

May his soul rest in peace.


Aliran member Wong Kok Keong adds:

It is truly a sad occasion to face the passing of such a gentle soul with an unshakable sense of justice and a mighty heart. But it is just as heartening to know that everyone who has written here has only kind words for JBJ. He deserves them all. Whether the PAP government and LKY appreciate him or not speaks of their humanity. For JBJ did his best and gave his all. He should be resting well in peace now.

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1 Oct 2008 10.43pm

I quote

“Can I equate him with Karpal? No, he was a few notches above him”

I don’t agree. Would never agree. Karpal kenna ISAed twice. Nah…..I can say I admire his courage and persistence. However, not as shrewd as Karpal. You may think that Karpal always spewed words without going through the brain. Wrong man.

At least, JBJ got sued in courts. Karpal kenna thrown into prison without trial. Twice!

1 Oct 2008 2.31pm

I remembered coming across JPJ a few years back in Singapore (think he’s released from prison). He looked a forlorn figure (all by himself with a bag of books at the mall entrance) earnestly seeking passer-bys to buy his autobiography in Suntec City, Singapore.

I guessed the end of a great man, and a true opposition to Singapore’s old & current regime.

1 Oct 2008 12.48pm

To our Muslim bros and siss,
“Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri”
Maaf, zahir dan batin.

A true Malaysian
A true Malaysian
1 Oct 2008 10.49am


Human nature is something that is hard to understand. Someone powerful may send many saints and prophets to this world of ours and yet still unable to tame human nature that we regard as ‘inhuman’. Creator God maybe powerful, but He seems ‘powerless’ in this sense.

Simplest rule to solve a dispute is just to forgive and forget instead of hate and revenge. This world can be a better place than heaven if human nature is of such nature.

I believe JB Jeyaratnam was someone of such human nature.

1 Oct 2008 10.27am

he has to go, for he has to save his face and he may be thinking of his own death and be rest assured his soul wont rest in peace

Fist of Asia
Fist of Asia
1 Oct 2008 10.15am

LKY, pay his respects?
PUHLEASE.. he’s not about to do that.. never
thought JBJ deserves a state funeral just as much as LKY when he drops dead

Justin Choo
1 Oct 2008 9.32am


Do you think LKY will go pay his last respect, and bow ????