原文作者：Hong Lysa孔莉莎 / 中文译者：伍德南
我并不自认是左翼的学术代言人。我的目的是，以一名历史学者的身份来检视官方历史，或已称谓的“新加坡的故事”， 或更准确地说，是“人民行动党故事“。这部故事具有无上权威，它蒙蔽了我国民众对新加坡的过去和现在的了解。历史课本教导的是，人民行动党击垮了共产党破坏势力，挽救了新加坡。它断言共产党人不断颠覆宪政体制、破坏社会，以便建立一个在其领导人独裁统治下的压迫性制度。因此，为了国家安全，必须援引公安法令拘留马共份子。共产党控制的工会发动罢工，不是为了改善工人的待遇，而是向资方提出过分要求，借以破坏经济；华校中学生被洗脑、操控，深信不疑地服从一切，正如他们在”五一三事件“以及福利巴士工潮引发的暴动中的所作所为。他们不会自己思考。Dennis Bloodworth在其《老虎与特洛伊木马》（The Tiger and the Trojan Horse, 1986）一书中，最最拙劣地阐述这一段历史。据我所知，新加坡人有二十多年的时间都无从普遍涉猎另类叙述的资讯。
我认为，《联合早报》刊载的该文，在帮助新加坡人了解我国历史方面，存在负面影响。我也认为，该报是刻意在当天发表这样一篇文章。我没说该作者是代言人。我并不知道一个人要被认定为代言人，需要具备什么素质；同时，我也没格外的兴趣对此追根究底。在标志性日子当天，报章发表的一篇亲共文章跟人民行动党对同一事情有同样说法，两个针锋相对的立场 ——马共历史和行动党历史 ，竟然出奇的不谋而合。如果我说该作者是没有觉察到这一“巧合“，他是否会更乐意听到这样的说法？
该作者声称，今天的新加坡已经改变了、更加开放了，因而《联合早报》便能够刊载正当评价马共在反殖运动中的作用的文章。这种开放是否也意谓该报也可以刊登批评人民行动党版历史的文章，批评该党惯用的伎俩，给学生贴上无知之辈的标签，把他们描绘成不懂思考的、危险的闹事者，完全被马共控制？尽管英国情报局的文件披露，没有掌握证据可证明骚乱和暴乱发展的每一步骤，都是马共策划和鼓动的（见覃炳鑫博士引述文件：编号CSO.DSF.00516/54, 9 June 1954, CO 1030/360），然而，殖民地当局从来没有停止发布公开声明，指控共产党人在“五一三事件“和福利巴士工潮暴动事件背后，鼓动暴乱，破坏经济和社会。当今的新加坡政府的行为到底有没有超越此界？
易润堂已向李光耀坦承自己是马共党员，已经背弃共产主义。他身为劳工部长的任务是“改造已被共产党人接管的工会”；这是读者搜索国家图书馆局关于“新加坡历史、社会与文化“网站《Infopedia》时，点击“Jek Yuen Thong“（易润堂）词条能读到的。
今年新加坡国立大学李光耀公共政策学院院长、兼任通讯与新闻部属下政府通讯组主任詹纳达斯•蒂凡（Janadas Devan）在谈论“动荡的日子”（Days of Rage）的系列电视纪录片，一再重复这一宣传资讯；詹纳达斯•蒂凡是蒂凡那的儿子。
I welcome Sahabat Rakyat’s initiative in grouping the set of recent essays on the May 13 movement in Singapore. It allows readers to assess further what the authors are saying.
But enough is enough.
CC Chin (hereafter, the author) in his essay ‘ The history of the May 13 student movement cannot allowed to be distorted’ has called me the ‘self-appointed academic spokesperson for the left’, and also a mouthpiece for a certain group who deny the role of the MCP in the student movement.
It is no secret that I have had the privilege of working with some members of the left who were politically active in the 1950s and early 1960s to produce two edited books so far. They are men and women whom I respect tremendously for their integrity, steadfastness and intelligence. They have no need of people to speak for them. They speak firmly and clearly for themselves.
I do not see myself as an academic spokesperson for the left. My aim as a historian is to examine the establishment history, or what has come to be called ‘The Singapore Story’ or more accurately, ‘PAP Story’. This history has enormous power over the way our citizenry understands Singapore’s past and present. The history textbooks teach that the PAP saved Singapore from the destructive forces of the communist party. It asserts that the communists were subverting the constitutional system, and destroying society to achieve a backward system of oppressive dictatorship by its leaders. MCP members thus had to be detained under the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance for the security of the country. The communist-controlled unions launched strikes not to get better terms for the workers, but to destroy the economy by making excessive demands from the employers, and Chinese middle school students are brainwashed and programmed to obey the party without question, as they did in the May 13 event, and the Hock Lee riots. They do not have a mind of their own. The book that expounds this version of history most crudely is Dennis Bloodworth, Tiger and the Trojan Horse (1986). As far as I know, there was no widely available alternative to it available to Singaporeans for more than twenty years.
Therefore, when the author’s essay was published in Lianhe Zaobao on May 13 2014 stating that the May 13 1954 event was planned and led by the MCP, and outlining the structure of the party’s organization chart with the names of the leaders at the various committee levels, I felt that there had to be a response to it. If the essay was published anywhere else, I would really not have bothered.
May 13 2014, the day of its first large-scale commemoration in almost half a century, and Lianhe Zaobao is not the occasion or place to present an argument about the leadership of the MCP in the May 13 event and anti-colonial movement. The general reader does not have the exposure to what the MCP was, to the issues relating to Chinese education and schools, to the world view of the middle school students. All they will conclude is that the pro-MCP article in Zaobao admits that the MCP is in the background manipulating the students, and in the case of the Hock Lee labour strike, behind the violence and the riots.
I maintain that the newspaper article has a negative impact on helping Singaporeans to understand our history. I also maintain that Lianhe Zaobao was meant to publish such an essay on that day. I did not suggest that the author is an agent. I do not know what qualities one needs to be accepted as an agent, and have no particular interest to pursue such a line of inquiry. I am not sure if the author would really prefer if I had suggested that he was not aware of the ‘co-incidence’ of a pro-MCP newspaper article saying the same thing as a PAP one published on that landmark day—an amazing confluence of what has to be opposing positions—MCP and PAP history.
The author claims that Singapore today has changed; there is greater openness, and Zaobao would publish an article giving due credit to the MCP in the anti-colonial movement as a matter of course. Would the openness also mean the newspaper would have published an essay criticizing PAP history for putting one-dimensional labels on the students, and portraying them as mindless, dangerous rabble completely controlled by the MCP, as they have consistently done? Even when British intelligence documents reveal that that they could not find evidence that the disturbance and violence was planned and instigated every step of the way by the MCP, (as in the document CSO.DSF.00516/54, 9 June 1954, CO 1030/360, cited by historian Thum Ping Tjin) it did not stop the colonial authorities from making public statements that the communists were behind May 13, and the Hock Lee riots, of using mob violence to undermine the economy and society. Has the Singapore government moved beyond that at all?
For Singaporeans to have a more complex and open-minded historical understanding of the MCP and its members, they would need to have more complex and open-minded historical writings on the Party. A static, structural hagiographic account of organization charts, of the sacrifices of its heroes and martyrs who have been all made to be identical cardboard figures is not enough to stimulate the interest and understanding of the Zaobao reader on the world of the middle school students in postwar colonial Singapore.
And when the author tells Zaobao readers that it is a great MCP achievement or contribution to Singapore that it has produced a minister in the PAP government, then definitely something is very wrong. This point was elaborated in the follow-up essay: Ex-MCP member Jek Yuen Thong became the minister of labour in 1963 and was a PAP minister till 1980. And the most ‘glorious’ of all is ex-MCP member Devan Nair, who was president of the Singapore. Three cheers, MCP! Or should it be three cheers, PAP? It cannot be both, surely.
Jek Yuen Thong had confessed to Lee Kuan Yew that he was a MCP member, and that he had rejected communism. He was appointed minister of labour in 1963. His job was ‘to reform the labour unions that had been taken over by the communists’ , This is what readers who google ‘Jek Yuen Thong’ will find in Infopedia, the National Library Board’s information site on Singapore history, society and culture.
As for Devan Nair, his greatest contribution to PAP history is to say that he knew the communists, as he had been one of them. And so he could tell the world that he and his friends called strikes just to keep up the political agitation. The left-wing union leaders made use of the workers. They were intentionally unreasonable in negotiations with employers, demanding more each time an agreement was about to be reached. The workers were led into holding frequent and prolonged strikes, and they suffered from the loss of salary and employment.
This propaganda was repeated this year in the television documentary series Days of Rage by Janadas Devan, the director of the Institute of Policy Studies which is part of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, and Chief of Government Communications at the Ministry of Communication and Information. Janadas is the son of Devan Nair.
Jek Yuen Thong and Devan Nair were former MCP members who had openly and proudly worked to destroy the MCP and the left-wing movement as part of the PAP government, and gained high office.
The MCP deserves much better from its historians than to be credited for producing men like them.
I would urge that those concerned with presenting the MCP for the younger generation to understand (I myself have no interest or ability to do this) that it is imperative that they re-set the compass. There is the need to re-look what they are saying of the people and the organization that treated the MCP and the left wing as the enemy that needed to be eliminated. There is the need to reflect deeply on how to explain the historical role of the MCP in concrete terms, beyond just one word: ‘anti-colonialism’. How was ‘anti-colonialism’ made use of by the Lee Kuan Yew faction of the PAP? Why did the MCP go out of its way to convince him that he had their complete support, right up to mid-1961? Lee was already making moves against the left especially clearly in the second constitutional talks in London, in 1957. And what do we mean when we say ‘MCP’ in these instances? Who made the decisions? How were the decisions arrived at? The two highest-ranking MCP leaders in charge of Singapore have written their memoirs, but the issues have not been thoroughly addressed.
The Chinese middle school students and the leftwing labour union and rural association leaders have suffered from detention without trial and banishment, and continue to be vilified in PAP propaganda as mindless, subversive and evil. For the most part of their lives those in Singapore who were labeled ‘communist’ have understandably chosen to bury their past, given the state oppression against the; others have chosen to cut off their past, and lead a completely new life.
The 60th anniversary celebrations did not happen simply because the government is now open and tolerant. To have hundreds turn up to be proudly identified as former leftists and student activists, to have Lim Hock Koon deliver the speech is indeed a landmark moment. It took years of determined but cautious steps to bring about. In 2006 that the ministry of home affairs had said plainly and menacingly announced that ex- political detainees will not be permitted to write history.
The narrow political struggle for power has been lost by the left, and it is over. But the struggle to win the history war is only beginning, even though it may be rather late in the day.
This is not the time for the public to witness factional fighting, vendettas, vindictiveness no matter how ludicrous, twisted and irresponsible, just to appear to win an argument.
It is the opportunity for those involved in the historical era to reflect on their life and times, and to leave their accounts so that Singaporeans can see just how false the picture of them as one-dimensional people is.
I maintain that this is what He Jin has done in his literary writings. Readers will appreciate his works not for revealing which faction of the MCP he belonged to, or who a particular character is in real life, but for the insights he gives into the life of a particular middle-school student in those politically-defining times.
A young and effectively bilingual Singaporean is studying his works as part of his doctoral thesis on Singapore/Malayan literature. His stories are valued not as ‘the truth’ about History or about the MCP, but as compelling ‘art for life’ narratives. He Jin’s short stories written in the 1950s when he was a student was pioneering as this form of Malayan literature in Chinese. His short stories written about the lives of the ordinary foot-soldiers who were his comrades in the jungle gives an unrivalled insight into the deep friendships, the disappointments, the daily struggles, the little triumphs of the spirit that the men and women lived through. The stories are about life. Like Ju Lang they were published only after the laying down of arms with the Hadyai Peace Agreement.
Unlike Jek Yuen Thong and Devan Nair, He Jin remains proud of being an MCP member.
The understanding of the MCP’s role in the Singapore anti-colonial movement would be enhanced by participants leaving their testimonies. They should not remain strangers to posterity—with only their names and their high position in the party committees on record. We would benefit greatly from analyses of the course their life took, the decisions they made, the trials and tribulations they faced. There is need for as many accounts as possible, including thoughtful individual narratives which help us understand the narrator, even if that is only how they wish to be seen. The point is not to judge him or her, but to break out of the uniform and lifeless picture that they are imprisoned in by accounts written by the MCP and by the PAP frameworks.
It is not possible to write on the history of postwar Singapore meaningfully without understanding the political context and implications that the writings would have today. Only a handful of former political detainees from Operation Coldstore and other operations in the 1960s and 1970s who live in Singapore are willing to write, and of this handful, none of them who are members of the communist party have said so openly. This does not mean that there is a denial of the role of communist members in the events of the early 1960s. It means that only those who are not members of the communist party, or who do not touch on their party membership or links are ready to write.
One can perhaps be disappointed, but no one today has the right to condemn them, or to ‘expose’ others, living or deceased as CPM members. To do so is only to underestimate or ignore the fact that the PAP has been the only party in power in Singapore. It was only a few days ago that the government has prohibited the public screening of a documentary by an award-winning Singaporean film-maker on political exiles in Singapore on grounds of national security. To do so without the proper context being firmly established is to embellish the PAP story.
This is my final comment, unless there are substantive matters to be debated constructively. I leave all other types of issues to readers to come to their conclusions from reading the essays compiled in the Sahabat Rakyat blogsite.