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参与本次讨论会的演讲者包括了Pusat Sejarah Rakyat主席赛.胡申.阿里——也是本书的共同出版人；李万千，前Malaysiakini专栏作者。他们两位都是内部安全法令的受害者之一；Sunita Mei-Lin Rajakumar小姐，她是前马来亚雪兰莪州劳工党主席拉惹古玛医生的女儿，也是Yayasan Usman Awang信托人的董事局成员。
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Lee Kuan Yew’s story is also ‘The Singapore Story’
“For many, Lee Kuan Yew’s story is also ‘The Singapore Story’, as the first instalment of his memoirs is titled.
It is the tale of one man, the country’s first premier, transforming a small village into a metropolitan city, extricating a third world country from its development dilemma, to rise to the ranks of the richest countries in the world.
That is the inspirational story of Singapore and of the ‘founding father’ of Singapore. However, every too-perfect narrative has its flaws and loopholes.
Indeed Lee’s side of history has been called into question.
Dr Poh Soo Kai, 84, a political prisoner detained under the Preservation of Public Security
Ordinance (PPSO) and its successor the Internal Security Act (ISA) for a total of 17 years, seeks to “debunk the official Singapore historical narrative”.
His memoir ‘Living in a Time of Deception’ was launched yesterday at the Gerakbudaya bookstore, Petaling Jaya, and followed by a panel discussion.
Poh was the founding member of the University Socialist Club at the University of Malaya in the 50s, and also the founding member of the People’s Action Party (PAP), along with Lee and Lim Chin Siong – the charismatic trade union leader who would later be detained twice, without any trial.
Poh also has a distinguished family background. The prominent overseas Chinese businessman and philanthropist who founded Xiamen University, Tan Kah Kee, is his grandfather.
Malaysians are not unfamiliar with Tan Kah Kee, Singapore, and the ISA, but we tend to forget the fact that our histories are connected.
Failed project For Poh, the merger of Singapore and Malaya in 1963 was a failed project not because Lee’s ‘Malaysia for Malaysians’ was not accepted by the Malay ruling elite, but because Lee had planned for it to fail.
“Lee was under threat from recent left-wing electoral victories, and his hope was that with the merger (with Malaya), the Tunku would arrest his left-wing opponents in Singapore for him,” he claimed.
A few months before the establishment of Malaysia in 1963, political cleansing took place in Singapore which saw over 100 people, mainly leftists, detained in the infamous Operation Coldstore. Poh and many opposition party members, including Lim Chin Siong, were detained.
Poh was only released after nearly 11 years. And he was re-arrested again in 1976 for ‘allegedly having actively helped pro-communist elements’. He was freed after six years.
Poh and other Barisan Sosialis (PAP’s splinter) leaders opposed the planned merger because it was not out of a genuine desire to build a nation.
“(The) setting up (of) Malaysia had no vision of forming a nation, they (the British, Lee and Tunku) came together for political reasons of their own”, he opined, adding that the leftists wanted a merger but with genuine nation-building ideals.
The intention of writing this memoir is to give a revisionist account to the official narrative, and to write for his fellow comrades from his generation.
The merger scheme is just one of many examples where Poh challenges Lee’s story of Singapore, backed with the support of recently-released historical documents.
“I feel I owe the younger generation a duty to leave a record of our country’s history”, he wrote
on the last page of his memoir.
Among the panelilsts were Selangor senator Syed Husin Ali, who is also the president of Pusat Sejarah Rakyat – the co-publisher of this book and Lee Ban Chen, former Malaysiakini columnist, both of whom were also victims of ISA; Sunita Mei-Lin Rajakumar, a member of the Board of Trustees of Yayasan Usman Awang, who is also the daughter of former chairperson of the Selangor Labour Party, MK Rajakumar.
The book was first launched in Singapore in February, and is still a best-seller today.”