“我们以独立候选人身份竞选，是无法当选的。必须要有一群人支持。当我被释放时。社阵已经被彻底摧毁了，只剩个空壳。我在1972年获释时，内部安全局局长张栾民对我说：“林医生，我不是警告您或者威胁您，我只是提醒您。某人，您知道是谁，给 我一道持久有效的命令（STANDING ORDER），如果您在获释后表现桀骜不驯，我们将再把您直接灌进监牢，不必请示内阁。”。
Ever wonder why?
by Teo Soh Lung
Ever wonder why Dr Lim Hock Siew, Ho Piao, MP Lee Tee Tong, Said Zahari, Dr Poh Soo Kai (who was arrested twice, in 1963 and 1976) and MP Chia Thye Poh were all imprisoned without trial under the ISA for more than 17 years?
Ever wonder why Chia Thye Poh holds the notorious world record of losing his freedom for 32 years?
Ever wonder why indefinite imprisonment without trial is practised in Singapore and not in any other first world country except Guantanamo (by the USA)?
I know many have pondered over these questions. Take a look at the table.
What did the detainees do to warrant their long incarceration and loss of freedom? From what I know,
The PAP government alleged that Dr Lim Hock Siew and his friends were threats to our national security. No documents were ever produced to substantiate such claims or weapons found on any of them or in their homes, clinics or office. Fake news about the danger they posed to society and widely publicised by the government at the time of their arrests and after tarnished their good names and instilled widespread fear among the populace.
While still in prison, Dr Lim Hock Siew rebutted the wicked, cruel, irresponsible and unsubstantiated claims of the government many times. In his public statement issued in the 9th year of his unjust imprisonment, Dr Lim Hock Siew recalled what ISD officers told him at the headquarters of the Special Branch in Robinson Road. He said:
“On 13 January 1972, I was taken to the headquarters of the special branch at Robinson Road where I was detained for 40 days together with my brother, Lim Hock Koon. Two high-ranking special branch agents of the PAP regime indicated to me that if I were to issue a public statement of repentance, I would be released…
They demanded from me two things. They are as follows:
(1) That I make an oral statement of my past political activities, that is to say, ‘A security statement’. This was meant for the special branch records only and not meant for publication.
(2) That I must issue a public statement consisting of two points:
(a) That I am prepared to give up politics and devote to medical practice thereafter.
(b) That I must express support for the parliamentary democratic system.” …
I completely reject in principle the issuing of any public statement as a condition of my release. This is a form of public repentance…” [See The Fajar Generation, The University Socialist Club and the Politics of Postwar Malaya and Singapore ed by Poh Soo Kai, Tan Jing Quee & Koh Kay Yew pp149-154].
As a consequence, Dr Lim Hock Siew was imprisoned for another 11 long years.
Was it right for Lee Kuan Yew and his ministers to imprison Dr Lim Hock Siew for 20 years just because he refused to accede to their unjust demands, which clearly had nothing to do with national security but the preservation of their power? Why should Dr Lim give up politics?
As can be seen from the Table, Lee Kuan Yew was 8 years older than Dr Lim Hock Siew. Lee who was born in 1923, was much older than Dr Lim and his friends who openly opposed the PAP in 1961. Lee Kuan Yew was the youngest among his colleagues – Toh Chin Chye, Goh Keng Swee, S Rajaratnam and EW Barker who formed the first cabinet. They were all thus older than Dr Lim Hock Siew and his friends.
When the PAP was formed in the 1950s, Dr Lim and Dr Poh were medical students. The writings and speeches of Dr Lim Hock Siew and Dr Poh Soo Kai reveal that as medical students, they assisted Lee Kuan Yew in drafting the PAP constitution.
It is likely that reckoning the youth and ability of Dr Lim and his friends, Lee Kuan Yew and his colleagues meticulously calculated their risk and decided to imprison all of them till well past their prime i.e. till their late 40s and 50s. By the time Dr Lim Hock Siew and his friends were released from prison, their political careers were over. Barisan Sosialis and Partai Rakyat were no longer active. The political climate was shrouded in fear. They themselves have lost the energy of youth.
Operation Coldstore and subsequent mass arrests under the ISA were cruel and cowardly acts that ensured longevity of the PAP in power and absence of any meaningful opposition for Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew and his ministers acted in their own selfish interest and against the interest of Singaporeans and Singapore.
When Dr Lim Hock Siew was asked if his long imprisonment was intended to prevent him from standing in future elections, his response was this:
“We cannot win the election as an independent candidate. You must have a group of people supporting you. The Barisan Sosialis was completely dismantled by the time I was released. It was only a shell without substance. At the time of my release in 1982, the Assistant Director of ISD, Tjong Yik Min said: “Dr Lim I am not warning or threatening you. I am only informing you. I have a standing order from you know who. If you show defiance after release, we will put you in prison again without reference to the cabinet.”
Lee Kuan Yew and his PAP were able to remain in power till today because they were able to legally imprison Dr Lim Hock Siew and his friends for more than 17 years and continue with mass arrests every year following Operation Coldstore.
The questions we have to ask ourselves is this:
“Why did we allow the PAP government to imprison Dr Lim Hock Siew and his friends for decades without trial?
Do we need the ISA to enable our government to abuse us each time they feel politically threatened?”