Philip Jeyaretnam



Philip Jeyaretnam (b. 1964, Singapore–) is a senior counsel and an award-winning writer. He is the youngest son of veteran opposition politician and lawyer, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, popularly known as JBJ.1 Jeyaretnam has written two bestsellers, First Loves and Raffles Place Ragtime. Among the literary awards he has received are the Airey Neave Award, Southeast Asia Write Award and the National Book Development Council of Singapore’s Highly Commended prize.2 He is also the recipient of the National Arts Council’s 1993 Young Artist Award. Jeyaretnam has been chairman of the Singapore Writers’ Festival steering committee since 2007 and a member of the Public Service Commission since 2009. He is also a managing partner of law firm Rodyk & Davidson LLP.3

Early life and literary influences
Jeyaretnam was born into a middle-class family.4 His parents, both lawyers, were Margaret Walker, an English woman, and J. B. Jeyaretnam, a well-known Singapore opposition leader of Ceylonese-Tamil descent.5

Jeyaretnam received his early education at the United World College, a private school in Singapore. He then spent his sixth-form years at Charterhouse, a public school in Surrey, United Kingdom.6 Subsequently, he returned to Singapore to enlist for National Service.7 After concluding his service in 1982 as one of the top officers in the Officer Cadet School, Jeyaretnam read law at the Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, United Kingdom.8

Jeyaretnam considers his parents as his greatest influences.9 Having watched his father in action as a lawyer, it inspired him to take up law.10 His late mother, who could quote poetry from memory, inspired his love for books.11 His parents taught him not to be afraid of expressing his opinions and to work hard to achieve his goals.12

Besides his mother, Jeyaretnam’s literary influences include Thomas Paine, the 18th-century English-American author of The Rights of Man, French writer Marguerite Duras for her ability to describe emotional dilemmas, and local playwright Kuo Pao Kun for his perseverance and willingness to try new things.13 He also read works by other local writers such as Gopal Baratham, Goh Poh Seng, Catherine Lim and Lim Thean Soo. Jeyaretnam is a regular follower of local plays and films, as well as a keen listener of contemporary music.14

Writings
Jeyaretnam has a passion and fascination for words. He is taken by the idea of how a world of ideas could be communicated through books.15 He started writing during his army days; during this period, his first short story, “Campfire”, won the second prize in a short-story competition.16

Jeyaretnam continued writing intermittently during his undergraduate and pupillage days. In 1987, he published his first book, First Loves, a short-story collection. Told by the protagonist Ah Leong, the stories are about first love as well as the quest for maturity and identity at the individual and national levels.17 First Loves topped the Singapore Times Book International bestseller list as soon as it was released in September 1987.18 It remained on the chart for 18 months – a record for a book authored by a Singaporean.19

In 1988, Jeyaretnam’s debut novel, Raffles Place Ragtime, was published.20 The book is about the unscrupulous, materialistic lives of Singapore yuppies.21 Both First Loves and Raffles Place Ragtime were nominated for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Southeast Asia and the South Pacific).22 Jeyaretnam’s second novel, Abraham's Promise, was published in 1994. Set in Singapore, the story is about the reminiscences of an elderly Latin teacher.23

As an author, Jeyaretnam focuses on writing about Singaporeans for local readers.24 He aims to seek and express the truth regardless of personal and social circumstances.25 He wants his readers to come away feeling the importance of engaging in Singapore, thinking about what they are doing, their jobs, and the effects of these on the country.26

Achievements
1982: One of top cadets graduating from the Officer Cadet School
1986: Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours (law), University of Cambridge, United Kingdom27
1987: Admitted to English Bar28
1988: Admitted to Singapore Bar29
1992: University of Iowa International Writers’ Programme; Harvard Law School (Fulbright Fellowship)30
Jan 2003: Appointed senior counsel31

Other positions held
Jun 1998Jun 2001: Member, Film Appeals Committee32
20012008: Board member, National Arts Council33
2003: Member, Law Reform Committee, Singapore Academy of Law
2003: Member, Beyond Credit Cards sub-committee, Remaking Singapore Committee
2003: Member, Censorship Review Committee34
2004–2007: President, Law Society of Singapore35
2009present: Member, Public Service Commission36
2012present: Member, Presidential Council for Minority Rights37

Awards
1983: Second prize, National Short Story Competition, for “Campfire”
1985: First prize, National Short Story Competition, for “Evening under Frangipani”38
1988: Airey Neave Award, United Kingdom39
1993: Young Artist Award, National Arts Council40
1996: Highly Commended Book Award for Abraham’s Promise, National Book Development Council of Singapore41
1997: Arts Literary Award, Montblanc-NUS Centre42
2003: Southeast Asia Write Award43

Selected works
1987: First Loves44
1988: Raffles Place Ragtime45
1995: Abraham’s Promise46
2004: Tigers in Paradise47



Author
Nureza Ahmad




References
1. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 171. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
2. Hubbard, A. (1988, April 27). Philip Jeyaretnam accepts Airey Neave Scholarship. The Straits Times, p. 19; Book him! (1990, September 25). The Straits Times, p. 3; Ho, A. L. (2003, August 30). He delivers again after Promise. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP. (2017). Philip Jeyaretnam, SC. Retrieved 2017, May 1 from Dentons Rodyk website: http://dentons.rodyk.com/en/philip-jeyaretnam
4. Klein, R. D. (Ed.). (2001). Interlogue: Studies in Singapore literature (Vol. 4). Singapore: Ethos Books, p. 287. (Call no.: RSING 809.895957 INT)
5. Bhalla, S. T. (1992, October 11). Growing up in a world of books. The Straits Times, p. 4; Khor, C. (1987, September 5). Always something Singaporean. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Khor, C. (1987, September 5). Always something Singaporean. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Klein, R. D. (Ed.). (2001). Interlogue: Studies in Singapore literature (Vol. 4). Singapore: Ethos Books, p. 287. (Call no.: RSING 809.895957 INT)
8. Khor, C. (1987, September 5). Always something Singaporean. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Bhalla, S. T. (1992, October 11). Growing up in a world of books. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Cheong, S-W. (2003, November 16). The law is fun. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Khor, C. (1987, September 5). Always something Singaporean. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Bhalla, S. T. (1994, September 18). Philip Jeyaretnam – an admiration for courageous struggle in art. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Bhalla, S. T. (1994, September 18). Philip Jeyaretnam – an admiration for courageous struggle in art. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Khor, C. (1987, September 5). Always something Singaporean. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Wicks, P. C. (1992, December 31). Images of Singapore reflected in local fiction writing. The Business Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Khor, C. (1987, September 5). Always something Singaporean. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Klein, R. D. (Ed.). (2001). Interlogue: Studies in Singapore literature (Vol. 4). Singapore: Ethos Books, p. 288. (Call no.: RSING 809.895957 INT); Wicks, P. C. (1992, December 31). Images of Singapore reflected in local fiction writing. The Business Times, p. 28; Khor, C. (1987, September 5). First effort shows realism and promise. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Book him! (1990, September 25). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Wicks, P. C. (1992, December 31). Images of Singapore reflected in local fiction writing. The Business Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Cheong, S-W. (2003, November 16). The law is fun. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Fast-forward with the Singapore yuppie. (1988, November 27). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Book him! (1990, September 25). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Jeyaretnam, P. (1995). Abraham’s promise. Singapore: Times Books International. (Call no.: RSING S823 JEY)
24. Khor, C. (1987, September 5). Always something Singaporean. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Bhalla, S. T. (1994, September 18). Philip Jeyaretnam – an admiration for courageous struggle in art. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Khor, C. (1987, September 5). Always something Singaporean. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Cheong, S.-W. (2003, November 16). The law is fun. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 171. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
29. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 171. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
30. Cheong, S.-W. (2003, November 16). The law is fun. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP. (2017). Philip Jeyaretnam, SC. Retrieved 2017, May 1 from Dentons Rodyk website: http://dentons.rodyk.com/en/philip-jeyaretnam
32. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 171. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
33. Philip Jeyaretnam joins the public service commission. (2009, November 24). AsiaOne. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg
34. Cheong, S.-W. (2003, November 16). The law is fun. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP. (2017). Philip Jeyaretnam, SC: Activities and affiliations. Retrieved 2017, May 1 from Dentons Rodyk website: http://dentons.rodyk.com/en/philip-jeyaretnam
36. Public Service Commission. (2017, April 7). PSC members. Retrieved 2017, May 9 from Public Service Commission website: https://www.psc.gov.sg/about-the-psc/psc-members
37. Goh, C. L. (2012, July 17). New faces on Presidential Council for Minority Rights. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; President’s Office. (2017, February 13). Other presidential councils. Retrieved 2017, May 9 from The Istana website: http://www.istana.gov.sg/roles-and-responsibilities/presidents-office/other-presidential-councils
38. Jeyaretnam, P. A. (1985). Evening under frangipani [Manuscript]. [s.n.]. (Call no.: RCLOS S823 JEY); Gabriel, M. (1986, May 29). Law student wins top prize for his short story. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. Hubbard, A. (1988, April 27). Philip Jeyaretnam accepts Airey Neave Scholarship. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
40. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 171. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
41. Ho, A. L. (2003, August 30). He delivers again after Promise. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
42. Ong, S. F. (1997, October 29). No money for five, but award is symbol of recognition. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
43. Ho, A. L. (2003, August 30). He delivers again after Promise. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
44. Jeyaretnam, P. (1987). First loves. Singapore: Times Book International. (Call no.: RSING S823.01 JEY)
45. Jeyaretnam, P. (1988). Raffles Place ragtime. Singapore: Times Books International. (Call no.: RSING S823 JEY)
46. Jeyaretnam, P. (1995). Abraham’s promise. Singapore: Times Books International. (Call no.: RSING S823 JEY)
47. Jeyaretnam, P. (2004). Tigers in paradise: The collected works of Philip Jeyaretnam. Singapore: Times Editions. (Call no.: RSING S823 JEY)



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Award winners--Singapore--Biography
Writers
Authors, Singaporean--Biography
Jeyaretnam, Philip--Biography
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Singapore literature
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors