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New charity to be set up and named after late opposition party leader JB Jeyaretnam

SINGAPORE — A new charity will be set up in the name of the late opposition party leader JB Jeyaretnam, his son Kenneth Jeyaretnam announced on Tuesday (Jan 5).

New charity to be set up and named after late opposition party leader JB Jeyaretnam

JB Jeyaretnam (pictured) founded the Reform Party in 2008 and was once heading the Workers' Party.

  • The JB Jeyaretnam Foundation will be set up to support marginalised groups such as the homeless and elders
  • Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam announced this on the birthday of his late father
  • Fundraising for the charity will begin after it is approved by the authorities

 

SINGAPORE — A new charity will be set up in the name of the late opposition party leader JB Jeyaretnam, his son Kenneth Jeyaretnam announced on Tuesday (Jan 5).

Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, 62, who is the secretary-general of the Reform Party, said in a press release that the new JB Jeyaretnam Foundation will be focused on relieving poverty among “marginalised groups that were dear to JBJ’s heart”.

His father was the founder of the Reform Party and was once chief of the Workers’ Party.

The charity, which will have to be approved by the authorities, is the second one to be set up after a veteran opposition icon.

The first is the Chiam See Tong Sports Fund set up in 2017 by Mr Chiam See Tong, the former chief of the Singapore People's Party, to support disadvantaged athletes.

In an email to TODAY, Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam said that the charity will support the older population, the homeless, and students from low-income families or families in crisis.

The goal is to help them eliminate or reduce the disadvantages of poverty by providing them with access to facilities or services, Mr Jeyaretnam said. 

Such support may come in the form of free or low-cost tuition to students from low-income families, and not necessarily through cash or groceries.

“However, we are still at a very early stage and one of our first official activities will be to conduct research and an audit of (clients’) needs,” he added.

The late JB Jeyaretnam, or JBJ as he is popularly known, was a senior lawyer and the first opposition party candidate to be elected as a Member of Parliament in 1981 during a by-election for the Anson constituency then. He was the secretary-general of the Workers’ Party at the time.

Known for his persistent criticisms of the Government under the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), he was sued several times by PAP’s leaders and became bankrupt from the legal actions.

In 2001, he was barred from contesting in elections due to the bankruptcy.

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

Shortly after in September 2008, he died from heart failure at the age of 82.

DOES NOT WANT TO DELAY PLANS ANY LONGER

The announcement of the new charity comes on the date of his father’s birthday, Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam said.

“Though he can no longer be with us, his legacy lives on to be preserved for future generations.”

Fundraising for the charity will begin after it has been registered, Mr Jeyaretnam told TODAY.

Although donations had declined for charities during the Covid-19 pandemic, he decided to set up the foundation this year because “more people are struggling and the need for support from charities is greater than ever”.

“Despite the pandemic, I decided to coincide this announcement with JBJ’s birthday this year and not to delay any longer.  

“We are all very excited and looking forward to getting to work for our communities.” 

The money for the charity had been raised through a dinner two years ago and no donations are needed at this stage, he said.

He added that lawyer M Ravi has agreed to do the legal work “at a generously reduced rate” to set up the charity.

“As soon as I receive confirmation from Mr Ravi with regards to registration, I will be happy to confirm details of board members.” 

Mr Ravi had previously contested in Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency during the General Election in 2015 under the Reform Party banner. He had said previously that the late JB Jeyaretnam has inspired his legal work.

Those interested in learning more about the charity or who wish to donate in future may contact the foundation at info [at] jbjfoundation.org.

Related topics

JB Jeyaretnam Charity Kenneth Jeyaretnam Reform Party

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