Saturday, June 18, 2011


We have not known the younger Jing Quee. The Jing Quee who was the editor of Fajar – the University Socialist Club Organ, nor the Jing Quee, the trade unionist of SATU (Singapore Association of Trade Union), nor the Jing Quee who was a Barisan Socialist candidate or Jing Quee -the political prisoner or detainee….
We knew the older Jing Quee and even that was only made possible because it was him who reached out to us and said, “We will have to support you, because you are still fighting for socialism” We in PSM came across Jing Quee only 6 years ago– it was in 2005, September 9th till 11th., when PSM organized its first International Conference called Socialism 2005. It was a huge success and many people we knew and did not know came along. One such couple was Jing Quee and Rose. I spotted Jing Quee when he looked so passionate and brimming with pride when the Internationale was sung at the Conference. I thought he might be an old retired comrade .
During one of the sessions, when two of the International guest was debating on who is the more left or purist among them, Jing Quee stood up and critiqued them as hairsplitting views and said there are more important things that the left must look at. “Let’s not waste our time with your hairsplitting definitions!” He got a big applause from the rest and for putting things back on track. Jing Quee as we observed is most of the time quiet but when he is not happy, he stands up and makes his points. It was in another debate in 2008, while a foreign speaker was branding the MCP as misled Maoist did Jing Quee came to their defense. He was annoyed with people labeling names without understanding the circumstances. In the same conference, he came to the defense of the newly elected Maoist Party in Nepal. He said let’s give them a chance as we don’t seem to know what are their actual situation.
Since 2005, Jing Quee and Rose was always present in our Socialism functions. Jing Quee said he felt at home because there are still people out there talking about socialism. He called this his annual pilgrimage. It was then that we slowly got to know the man and his history. He was always humble and always prepared to discuss and listen. Unlike many people in his generations who have retired, Jing Quee kept going on, always inspiring us that PSM is doing the right things, listening as well as cautioning us.
His memory and recollections were fantastic and along with Poh Soo Kai and Kay Yew – among the people we got to know through him – they would relate us the stories of the past with such precision as if it just happened yesterday. Jing Quee was in fact the bridge linking us with his generations and their struggle. He kept telling us that the story of Singapore and Malaysia is one nation, one history and one struggle.
For PSM – a young party trying to fight it out in the post cold war era in a sea of capitalism. Jing Quee was an inspiration and he always took the trouble to meet up with us, encourage us and kept telling us that the part of socialism is the right path. Never once – did he ever surrender his ideological positions or his ideals. He always spoke about the future with hope. He and Rose together – make a formidable team. They always had this youthfulness in them and always full of energy and fire.
When we heard and learned of his prostate cancer and when I visited him with some comrades, Jing Quee still had his sense of humor but he was starting to look quite ill. Last year December, when I visited him, it struck me that Jing Quee is really ill. I left his home then with the feeling, that maybe… it will be the last time, I will see him again.
Then again, Jing Quee against all odds appeared in Chinese Assembly hall last month in May to launch the book The May 13 generation and the Mighty Wave. While being partially paralyzed and have lost his sight, Jing Quee did speak in the launch, responded to Q and A. His points were sharp and he made sense all along. It was a tremendous feat of will power and a testament on what the man is made off.
On Tuesday, I received a rare email from Rose. It read that Jing Quee has passed away. Visiting him to pay our last respect yesterday, it struck me that though we may only have known him for 6 years; it seems as if I have lost a very old comrade. It seems as if we have known him for such a long time.
Jing Quee in the short 6 years we have known him, has been a great mentor and an inspiration to people like us. Jing Quee always talked about being practical, about being ideological and the importance of doing work. There was this thing about him – his witty comments, his tough statements, his laughter and his humbleness. His willingness to share and listen and his principles which is not to be compromised. Jing Quee has left a lasting impression on us.
Rose – his partner for life and comrade in arms is a great women with a big heart. Even yesterday, she was full of life – trying to keep everyone happy and telling us on how we should preserve history and help the older comrades.
PSM pays tribute to Tan Jing Quee. His contribution will go a long way and inspire the younger generations to come. Our heartfelt condolences to his family, his friends and to our comrade Rose. The Fajar Generation has continued to give us the dawn we always needed. We will fight on …..for a better world and a better society,,,,,,
A line from Jing Quee poem - ISA Detainee (the last paragraph)
What then is the truth ?
A generation trapped in lies
Who rushed to defend, to justify
Never to listen, see or speak out.
Only when we open our hearts
Confront this barbarism
Can we truly exorcise our fears,
Finally emerge as a free people,
A liberated society.

Farewell Comrade

PSM Secretary General. 18 June 2011, 1am.

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