Old soldiers never die, they just fade away, said General Douglas MacArthur in his address to the Congress in April 1951 after his dismissal as UN forces commander in chief in Korea.
But the highly-decorated American general, who earlier helped reconstruct Japan as the supreme commander of the Allied forces in Japan, garnered further honours before passing away at the age of 84 in 1964.
Singapore's veteran opposition politician Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam is old, but is not ready to fade away.
Now 82 years old, he is returning to politics even after having been bankrupted for his opposition to the ruling People's Action Party whose leaders successfully sued him for defamation in Singapore courts.
Yesterday, he announced he is setting up the Reform Party. He has applied to the authorities to register the party.
A lawyer educated in Britain, JBJ was the first opposition politician elected to parliament in Singapore in a 1981 by-election, 16 years after independence, as a Workers Party candidate.
Now having been discharged as a bankrupt, he hopes to contest the next general election due by 2011.
He will be 85 then. He is two years younger than his old adversary, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, whose son Lee Hsien Loong is now prime minister.
JBJ is highly critical of the ruling party though it has made Singapore one of the richest, most stable countries in Asia.
Still, one has to respect his indomitable will and self-sacrifice. He could have enriched himself as a successful lawyer. But he became an opposition politician instead and went bankrupt in a country where ministers are paid million-dollar salaries because the government says it has to compete with the private sector to attract the best talent into public service.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
JBJ’s legal troubles go back a long time.
Wikipedia says in 1984 he was accused of misstating his party accounts and though he was cleared on all but one count, the prosecution appealed and in the retrial he was found guilty of all charges, fined, jailed for a month, and disbarred as a lawyer.
He appealed to the Privy Council in Britain, which reversed the judgment.
“The right of appeal to the Privy Council was severely restricted by a change in the law the following year,” says Wikipedia.
But JBJ fell foul of the authorities again and was sued for defamation.
He was declared a bankrupt in 2001 after failing to pay libel damages to ruling party members, including former prime minister Goh Chok Tong.
During his bankruptcy, he was reduced to hawking his self-penned books outside city subway stations, reports AFP. It adds:
Last year Jeyaretnam paid 233,255 Singapore dollars (now 172,578 US) to clear his bankruptcy, which had prevented him from running for political office, after help from friends and his prominent lawyer son.
He was also reinstated to the bar and has resumed legal practice.