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(中英文对照)Lunch With Singapore’s Old Left 与新加坡老左共进午宴

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本篇文章转载自Kirsten Han个人博客网站:http://roadsandkingdoms.com/2015/lunch-with-singapores-old-left/。全文翻译如下:

数百名年长的前左翼成员聚集在一家不显眼的老旧的购物商场畅饮。他们在叙旧、高谈、争论以及痛骂有关政府(政策)。其中一位与会者上台提出了在来届大选出现政治改变;他的讲话获得了在场的与会者的热烈欢呼和喝彩。(按:上台演讲者是受主办方的委托致辞。详见《老友春茗》聚餐会视频网址:https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-LloIXRvoaONFlkWXRvVjRHWEE/edit

春节聚餐会的出席者大多数年龄是介于70岁和80岁。他们当中一些出席者需靠伴侣、孩子、或者拐杖跚地来回于自己的席位。餐馆的职员在服务期间必须让轮椅走动,或者迂回于餐桌间为与会者添加茶水或果汁。

农历春节初三是新加坡的老左们作为常年聚会的日子。这些成员都是5060 年代的前学生运动的活动分子、工会成员和政治活动家。他们集聚在一块儿回顾当年的峥嵘的日子。这传统聚会已经是已久了。他们已经无法计算次数了。

“我看,应该是从1980年开始吧”,一位格子瘦小、满头银发的80岁的长者,卢妙萍这么说。她使用华语和英语相互交谈过程中平和的说,“除非我有急事要办,每年我一定出席这个聚餐会。”

这个集会代表了在课本里被删除的新加坡历史的一部分。广大的受华文教育者,他们现在都是年长的国民,都是站在反对英殖民主义运动的最前线的。他们竭尽全力把目前仍然是执政者的人民行动党扶上台并取得最终的胜利。他们当中很多人为此付出了沉重的代价。殖民主义政府,后来是行动党政府把这些杰出的领导人逮捕和监禁起来。李光耀却自己继续担任总理超过30年。

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人民行动党在1959年所取得第一次全国大选的胜利后又有取得多数席位、李光耀和人民行动党今天在建设新加坡所扮演的角色是与当时这些政治家们的活动事迹是无法切割的。

但是,无可争辩的事实。那些公民自由运动的批评执政党的批评者被镇压下来!——新加坡根本就没有游行抗议的集会自由。严格的审查制度是普遍存在的。一些关于早期的逮捕左翼的行动就是首先开创了后来在这个弹丸小国的一系列削弱公民自由的行动。

记住这个当年的动乱的年代在今年是特别敏感的。政府在“SG 50”在旗帜下,铺天盖地的庆祝新加坡独立50周年纪念。许多有关“新加坡历史”的叙述正在被强调,但是,这些左翼人士(对新加坡的独立)做出的贡献似乎不被承认。正是如此,年轻一代的新加坡人对于左翼在国家的历史一无所知。

人民行动党始终坚持诸如1963年的冷藏行动等逮捕行动——数百人在不经审讯下被捕是必要的。因为这是为了牵制共产党的威胁和保护新加坡。那些认为(行动党的)的逮捕行动是具有政治动机的历史学者被冠以“历史修正主义者”。这些历史学家已经反驳了(行动党)重新出版“李光耀的电台12讲”所提到的共产主义的威胁和与马来西亚合并的必要性。新加坡目前的总理李显龙(即李光耀的儿子)是在2004年上任的。他自己在质疑叙事之间的联系和质疑执政党的合法性

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但是,这些老左们至今还是紧紧的团结一致。在当天聚餐会一共宴开超过30桌。每桌10人。这些桌子很快就坐满人了。他们告诉我,参与聚餐会的人数逐年增加。过去彼此间的派系和对抗已经逐渐消失了,遗留下来的是分享过去斗争的回忆。他们不会忘记、拒绝放弃自己是国家最后的抗争行为是主导力量

他们甚至在这个聚餐会上出版一本书:《反假合并斗争50周年文献辑》。这本书的内容是有关60年代新加坡与马来西亚的短暂合并。但是由于印刷成本的因故,书中的一部分资料显得比较小。他们为此向老朋友表示道歉。当然他们只能依靠放大镜来阅读这本书反假合并斗争50周年文献辑封面-page-001

反假合并文献目录-page-001

76岁的陈国防在聚餐会开始致辞时说

“是什么力量把我们一直拉在一起?应该说一方面是我们共同的遭遇所促成,我们都曾经在不合理的情况下被强行推进牢狱,白白被囚禁了几个月、几年、十几年、乃至二十年、三十多年之久。那是因为残酷的法令在执政者手里。”

陈国防本身是在1963年的冷藏行动中被捕的。他被监禁了4年半。他当时是南洋大学学生会外交事务的秘书。他是一个积极的学生运动者。他回忆说,“我毕业于南洋大学。我并没有让它学以致用。”

在春节聚餐会上-page-003 他补充说,

“那是一个充满理想的年代。全世界年轻人都起来反对殖民主义。我与亚非拉的青年人一样。我不是一个共产党员。但是, 我认为,作为一个年轻人,我们必须为自己的祖国做出贡献。”

卢妙萍被监禁的时间更加长。她是在1956年学生运动积极分子,她被逮捕并监禁了三年。当时她的辩护律师就是李光耀本身。过后,他(李光耀)是一个年轻政治活动者以及工会学生团体的法律顾问。卢妙萍说,

“他(李光耀)为我辩护时,他说(这些)指控都是毫无根据地。”

1963年,她成为社会主义阵线的大选候选人。社会主义阵线是由前人民行动党的左翼成员由于理念的不同而分裂出来组成的。她击败了其他三位候选人当选为议员。但是,她并没有就职。

卢妙萍自我挖苦的说,

“我是在(当年)9月中当选的。在10月初我被带走去吃免费餐了。”关于她的被捕和接下来超过6年监禁,她补充说,过去为他辩护的律师也是与10年前她(被捕)同样的理由逮捕我。当时,他(李光耀)就是以这样理由进行辩护的。

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所有的中餐宴席佳肴都是一道道的上桌。这样出席者可以在这期间进行交谈。他们的宴席传统春节佳肴是捞鱼生。这是一道生鱼片。还享受的炸虾和焖熟的蔬菜以及烧鸡。一般而言,每个人支付的餐费是物有所值并不昂贵。在台上,表演者轮流上台表演过去年代的老歌,他们的表演受到了台下的老同志们的热情欢呼与支持。

在最后一道佳肴上桌后,一队演唱者上台演唱。全部以华语歌词演唱。这些演唱的歌曲在宴席开始前已经印成歌词分发到每张桌子。他们当一些是佩戴做眼睛在阅读,一些是注视着这张歌词。这个时候大家啥事都不做,就是听着大家唱歌或者自己加入合唱。

最后一首歌大家不需要看着歌词合唱了。每一个左翼成员都会唱。一个与会者从自己的座位上站了起来拍掌大声的唱着:“团结就是力量!”这就是我所能够告诉大家的,中文著名的“歌曲团结就是力量”!

“团结就是力量!”一位坐在台下的长者在歌声结束时把拳头高高举。

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没有任何东西可以把他们带回过去的年代。改变太多了。但是,不是全部都是坏事,他们当中很多人都承认,在过去50年里很多发展商让人留下印象的。

但是,进步和发展不是等于让年轻国人抓住了它的认同性和过去的一切。拉维。沙玛,他的父亲是具有争议的马来亚共产党员,他指着那些在宴席结束后开始离开餐馆的男女长者说:

“政府要承认新加坡的建国一代是好事。但是,他们不可以1965年开始作为节点。在这之前有许多长者为此奠定了基础啊。”

当问到对有关统治新加坡50年的印象时,卢妙萍笑着、看着远处、思考着而自言自语的说,

“我能够说什么?我对新加坡有那么多的感慨和我们的50年。”

接着,她凝集了自己的思路,望着我说,

“我们感到非常愤慨、最失望的是:他们不止是否定了我们的贡献,而且还说我们是对国家是威胁。李光耀是踏着牺牲的学生的背上台的。”

她停顿了一下。一个瘦小的老妇人至今仍然隐藏着几十年前遭受让人背叛的感受。她为了要去向一年后再见的一位老朋友说再会而向我告别了。

相关链接:https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/

Lunch With Singapore’s Old Left

http://roadsandkingdoms.com/2015/lunch-with-singapores-old-left/

 

Hundreds of aging leftists gather in a restaurant tucked away in an obscure corner of an old shopping complex. They talk, shout, argue, and rant about the government. One of them goes onstage and demands political change in the next elections; he is greeted with raucous applause and loud cheers.

The attendees are mostly in their seventies or eighties. Several lean on spouses, children, or canes as they hobble to and from their seats. The restaurant staff has to make way for a wheelchair or two as they weave between the tables filling glasses with tea or orange juice.

The third day of Chinese New Year marks the annual lunch gathering of the Old Left in Singapore. Members of the leftist movement of the 1950s and 1960s—former student activists, union workers, and politicians—meet to reminisce about the good old days. It’s been such a long-standing tradition that some have lost count of how many they’ve attended.

“Since the 1980s, I would say,” says 80-year-old Loh Miaw Gong, a tiny white-haired lady who switches between Mandarin and English with ease. “Unless I’ve had really urgent matters to attend to, I’ve attended every year.”

This assembly represents a slice of Singapore history omitted from school textbooks. Largely Chinese-educated, these senior citizens were once at the forefront of the anti-colonialist movement on which the still-ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) rode to prominence and, ultimately, victory. Many of them paid a high price for their efforts, too, through arrests and detentions carried out by the colonial government, and later by the PAP itself under its indomitable leader, Lee Kuan Yew. Lee went on to be Singaporere Prime Minister for over three decades.

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Both the PAP and Lee played major roles in making Singapore what it is today, so much so that it is often difficult to separate the actions and decisions of the politicians from the trajectory of the nation. The party has won every election since the country’s first in 1959, and it continues to fill the vast majority of seats in Parliament.

 

Yet it is not without controversy. Critics have criticized the ruling party for clamping down on civil liberties—Singaporeans generally do not have freedom of assembly for protests and demonstrations, and censorship is common. Some point to the early arrests of the leftists as the first salvo in a series of actions that have diminished civil liberties in the tiny island nation.

Remembrance of this tumultuous period has become particularly sensitive this year. The government is going all out to celebrate Singapore’s fiftieth year of independence under the “SG50” banner. Many aspects of the “Singapore story” are being emphasized, but these leftists are unlikely to get much recognition. As it is, most young Singaporeans know next-to-nothing about the leftist’s role in the nation’s history.

The PAP insists that sweeps such as Operation Coldstore in 1963—in which over a hundred individuals were detained without trial were necessary to contain the communist threat and protect Singapore. Historians who have suggested that the arrests were politically-motivated have been branded “revisionists,” their analysis countered with the erection of memorials and the republishing of Lee Kuan Yew’s old radio talks on the dangers of communism and the need for a merger with Malaysia. Singapore’s current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (the son of Lee Kuan Yew), who has governed since 2004, himself drew the link between questioning the narrative and questioning the legitimacy of the ruling party.

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But these old school leftists have stuck together with remarkable solidarity. There are over 30 tables laid out in the restaurant, each accommodating ten people, and they fill up fast. I’m told the crowd grows every year; old factions and rivalries fade away, leaving only the memory of a shared struggle. Their refusal to give up and forget is their final act of defiance of the state-led amnesia.

They’ve even put together a new book for the occasion: a collection of historical documents and writing on Singapore’s short-lived merger with Malaysia in the 1960s. But publication costs have led to some documents being presented in rather small print, and it’s suggested to the assembled old folks—with apologies, of course—that they read the book with a magnifying glass.

反假合并斗争50周年文献辑封面-page-001

反假合并文献目录-page-001

“People wonder what brought us together. I believe the answer lies in a common suffering. We have been thrown into jail for months, years, because of a draconian law invoked by the party in power,” says 76-year-old Tan Kok Fang during his speech at the beginning of the meal.

Tan himself was arrested in 1963 under Operation Coldstore, and was detained for four-and-a-half years. He had been the external affairs secretary of the student union in a Chinese-language university known for its left-leaning student activism. “I had just graduated from Nanyang University. I didn’t even make it to my convocation!” he recalls.

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 “It was the spirit of the time,” he adds. “Young people across the world were fighting the colonialists, and I wasn’t any different from a young person in Africa or South America. I am not a communist, but I felt, as a young man, we should do something for our country.”

Loh Miaw Gong spent even longer in detention. She was first arrested as a student activist in 1956, and was detained for about three years. Her defense lawyer was Lee Kuan Yew himself, then a young politician and legal advisor to trade and student unions. “He defended me. He said the charges were baseless,” she says.

In 1963 she stood as a candidate in the general elections as a member of Barisan Sosialis, a party set up by former PAP members who left the PAP due to ideological differences. She beat three other candidates to become an elected Member of Parliament, but never took possession of her seat.

“I was elected in mid-September. In early October I was taken in for my free meals,” she says wryly, referring to her arrest and subsequent detention of over six years. Her former defense lawyer, she added, arrested her on similar grounds to those he had argued against less than a decade earlier.

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As with all Chinese banquets, courses are brought out one-by-one, and attendees make conversation at their table as they toss the traditional Chinese New Year yusheng—a raw fish salad—and enjoy the fried prawns, braised vegetables, and roast chicken. The consensus is that the per-head cost of the lunch isn’t expensive enough for it to be real fin. On stage, performers take turns singing old favorites, buoyed by the support and enthusiastic applause of their comrades.

The high point comes as the last courses are cleared away, and a line of singers file on to the stage. Lyrics, all in Mandarin, had been distributed to each table beforehand. Some reach for reading glasses while others squint at the sheet; as the choir belts into the microphones, it’s impossible to do anything but listen or sing.

Then comes the final song, and printed lyrics are no longer needed. Every leftist worth his or her salt knows this one. A man pops up from his seat, clapping his hands over his head as he shouts the lyrics: “Unity, unity is strength!” It is, as far as I can tell, the Mandarin version of the famous union anthem “Solidarity Forever.”

“Tuan jie shi li liang! (Unity is strength!)” another elderly man bellows as the song ends, pumping his fists over his head.

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Nothing will bring back the Singapore of their youth. Too much has changed, and not all for the worse. Many assembled will readily admit that the city has made impressive gains in the past fifty years.

But progress and development is not the be-all-end-all for a young nation grappling with its identity and past. “It’s good that the government wants to recognize the pioneers of Singapore,” said 60-year-old Ravi Sharma, whose father was a member of the controversial Communist Party of Malaya. He gestures at the elderly men and women, slowly trickling out of the restaurant at the end of the meal. “But they can’t just start from 1965. There were so many before, and they lay the foundation.”

When asked about her impression of a 50-year-old sovereign Singapore, Loh laughs and looks into the distance, thinking. “What should I say about this? I have so many feelings about Singapore and our fiftieth anniversary.” She’s almost speaking to herself.

Then she gathers her thoughts and looks me in the eye. “What we are most angry, most upset about is that they’re not only denying our contribution, but saying we threatened the nation. Lee Kuan Yew rose on the back of the students’ sacrifice.”

She nods, a little old lady still hurting from a decades-long sense of betrayal. She bids me farewell, and rushes off to say goodbye to an old friend for another year. 

 

linked to:https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/

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