The People’s Hero’s article 6
Dr Lim Hock Siew –
the most respected leader of the political detainees
Low Tai Thong
During the “Operation Coldstore” on the 2nd February 1963, a few hundred people were detained and sent to various prisons. The last batch, which included Dr Lim Hock Siew, were the political detainees among us, who were detained by the Lim Yew Hock government and remained detained by the Lee Kuan Yew regime in the St. John Island Detention Camp, were soon transferred to the Changi Prison in two batches. I was sent to E Hall to be with other political detainees which numbered close to a hundred. Among them were leaders and cadres of political parties and trade unions, journalists, doctors, university students and so on. Having already spent 7 years in prison, it was then a very emotional moment for me to meet them there, especially those friends from the trade unions whom I had not seen in many years.
That was the first time that I met Dr Lim Hock Siew. I had only heard about him in the past, but had not had the opportunity to see him in person due to the fact that I had been detained and sent to prison in 1956.
Beginning 1956, political detainees in the prison would organize “livelihood committee” to deal with our own daily living affairs. The detainees under Operation Coldstore were no exception and Dr Lim Hock Siew (we would call him Dr Lim) was nominated as the chairman of the committee to, on our behalf, bring forward various demands to the prison authority to improve our living conditions in the prison.
We stayed in E Hall for more than a year and were then transferred to E Dormitory.
E Dormitory was built after Operation Coldstore, on a soccer field next to D Hall inside the prison walls. It consisted of 3 blocks of single-storey building, with each block housing 20 cells. Air ventilation in these cells was better than the traditional cells with large and low windows. The doors of the cells were not locked at night. We would be sent into the cells after 6 pm and only the front and back gates of each block would be locked. There was also no light out in the night such that we could continue reading well into the mid-night.
Dr Lim was the most respected leader among us political detainees. Being friendly to everyone and carrying no air, he would speak with a soft voice. He would think through issues calmly and comprehensively and would become our think tank and advisor. We would naturally think of approaching him for help or opinion whenever there were personal or family issues that we could not sort out. Being a medical practitioner, he would become our health advisor, dispensing his professional opinions and care. Dr Lim was also our nutritionist, checking if our daily supply of foodstuff met with the daily basic nutritional requirements.
Under his leadership we lived together with good discipline. All of us would perform our own tasks conscientiously and cooperatively in this collective living, such as preparing for our 3 meals, area cleaning, studying and recreational activities.
I was then preparing for the Cambridge School Certificate Examination and Dr Lim became my teacher. He tutored me in the English language and other subjects. That had increased my confidence as required my Cambridge Certificate smoothly.
Soon after Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia, a few detainees and I who were born in Malaysia were served with Expulsion Order.
I was therefore taken away from E Dormitory in May 1967, after being with Dr Lim for more than 4 years and leaving behind comrades who went through sufferings together all these years.
It turned out that I was not sent to Malaysia but to China instead! When the ship arrived at China I refused to disembark, and insisted to return to Singapore with the same ship. I was served with a Banishment Order on arrival at Singapore and was detained in the Queenstown Prison.
I met Dr Lim again in Queenstown Prison. He, together with Said Zahari, Mahadeva, Chia Thye Poh and Lee Tee Tong, were transferred from the Changi Prison to here since time unknown. But this time I was not locked up together with them, being no longer regarded as a political detainee by the authorities, but as a prisoner waiting to be deported and had to put on prisoner clothing.
We lived in the cells on the ground floor of Queenstown Prison, but were separated on two ends with iron railings in between. We could only look at each other from a distance and could only communicate with hand signs. In spite of this we successfully teamed up together to organize a week’s hunger strike in support of the comrades in the Changi Prison to fight for the improvement of their treatment.
Not long after I was transferred to another cell to be with others waiting for deportation and was not allowed to meet with family members. I left Queenstown Prison in March 1969 and headed to London, after spending close to 13 years in jail.
Dr Lim had remained steadfastly truthful to socialist ideals and had never wavered in his belief. He had never compromised, and rejected all threats and enticements throughout his 20 years of prison life. He had made immense sacrifices to defend his honor and his political principles.
20 years of detention could not change Dr Lim’s iron-clad will, nor did it succeed in destroying his integrity and esteem. Dr Lim walked out of the prison door with honor in 1982!
Though Dr Lim has already left us for 5 years, we will never forget this anti-colonial and patriotic hero of the people. He will forever live on in our hearts and his name will be forever etched into the history book of our country!
我们在”E” Hall住了大约一年多，就被移往”E” Dormitory。
“E” Dormitory是“冷藏行动”后，当局在监狱围墙内”D” Hall旁边（本来是一个足球场），建了三座平房，每座有二十个牢房。比传统的牢房空气好得多。窗口大又低，夜间房门不上锁，每天傍晚六点以后被关进牢房，只锁上每座的前后门，夜间也没有灯光控制，我们可以读书到深夜。
Dr Lim是我们政治扣留者最受尊敬的领袖。他为人和蔼可亲，没有架子，讲起话来低声细语。思考问题冷静和全面。他是我们的智囊和顾问，我们有什么个人或家庭问题想不通，就自然而然向他求助，征求他的意见。他是医生，因此，也成为我们的健康顾问，给予我们的专业意见和照顾。Dr Lim是我们的营养师。他检查监狱每天供给我们的食品是否合乎我们每日的基本营养需求。
新加坡被踢出大马后不久，我和其他好几位大马出生的扣留者，先后接到驱逐令（Expulsion Order）。因此，在1967年5月，我从E Dormitory被带走，离开了相处四年多的Dr Lim，离开了多年相处在一起共患难的兄弟。