作者：许赓猷 卢朝基 译
在那些日子里，大选的宣传活动持续进行长达几个星期之久。只有从1963年大选开始，行动党修改了选举法律，才把竞选活动压缩到只有9天。因为新加坡没有 电视机，当时的大众传播媒体是收音机、报纸、杂志和群众大会等，而群众大会显然是所有政党能向选民介绍他们的候选人和政纲的最受欢迎的工具。它是一种极佳 的街头戏，候选人所选择的方言或语言和演讲技巧十分重要。
我的父亲的家族在桥南路拥有广兴(Kwang Heng音译)金铺，它曾经是新加坡最大的零售金铺。他是一个政治保守派，热心支持林有福领导的新加坡人民联盟。当行动党在1959年赢得压倒性胜利时， 他很不开心。(他到了1963年才转向行动党，响应他们的”恐惧”运动，说亲共的”社阵”的胜利将会剌激联合邦联盟政府的神经，进而直接统治新加坡)。
我的母亲是吉隆坡人，我于1944年在那里出生。不久之后，我们就在日本投降之前搬到新加坡居住。我的外祖父与外祖母(他的第二个妻子)以及他们的八个儿 孙居住在沙球劳路( Circular Rd)的一幢的殖民地式大洋房里。我的外祖父和他的两个大难不死的兄弟在吉隆坡拥有并且管理一家大型的华人酿酒厂，他是轩尼诗的独家代理，拥有一个锡矿场 和一家饼干工厂，是战后马来亚最富裕的人之一。不同于我的祖父，他是一个热情和仁慈的人，经常慷慨解囊襄助他的雇员，对待他们犹如自己的家人一样。我在吉 隆坡度过了所有的假期，有着许多快乐的回忆。马来亚对我来说，并不是一个抽象的政治概念，而是我所长大和热爱的社会现实。
我从小就对社会中贫苦和不幸的人抱着强烈的同情心。我们在新加坡的一些近亲在生活上陷入了困境，但是得到我的父亲的慷慨帮助。有一位近亲甚至必须把他们所 有的五个幼女送给别人收养。另外一位亲戚则艰苦挣扎，所有九个儿女和他们的父母挤住在一起。对他们来说，生活是十分俭朴的，但是他们一直都是一个愉快和可 爱的家庭。金钱并不是生活的全部。
大约1960年前后，金铺的生意结束了，部分原因是由于市场竞争，另一部分原因则是由于大家族内部的冲突，我的家道开始没落了。父亲在马来亚银行找到了一 份出纳员的工作，他在那里为一份微薄的薪水而长时间地劳碌工作，直到60岁退休为止。因为缺少金钱的缘故，我们节衣缩食，尽量减少各种不必要的开支。我亲 身体会了”阶级斗争”的意义。
1950年到1962年，我在圣安德烈学校读书，以三科特优两科优等的成绩通过了高级学校证书考试。新校长Francis Thomas祝贺我是该年度毕业班成绩最优异的学生。1963年，当我报名入读大学时，我获得了新加坡自治邦奖学金(总统奖学金的前身)。由于我在大学社 会主义俱乐部的活动，我的自治邦奖学金在1964年在不说明原由的情况下被取消了。由于我还有享有新加坡大学的另外两项奖学金，因此我还是能够在除了减少 买书和住在家里，不住宿舍之外，没有经济困难的情况下完成我的学业。
我的意识觉醒归因于我在圣安德烈学校读书的那12年。安德烈学校位于波东巴西附近，有许多来自贫寒的工人阶级家庭的学生。有些学生甚至穿了破鞋子到学校上 课。我们有一个永久性的建校基金，但是从来没有盖过任何新校舍(直到我在1962年毕业以后的好几年)。据说，那是一个用以弥补校长超过十年的赌马损失的 非法目的基金。有一个连年考试不及格的同学可以跟我们一样，年复一年地升读到高年班毕业，无需留班。他的父亲是一个百万富翁，和校长的关系密切。
所有这些因素在1959/1960年新加坡的政治温室气氛中的结合，唤醒了我的社会良心。麦经施路(Mackenzie Rd)老丽士戏院旁边有个报摊，我从小就去光顾那个摊位。我是通过它所销售的大学社会主义俱乐部机关报《华惹》而发觉该俱乐部的。《华惹》与我后来阅读的 一些书籍，一起给了我政治教育。对我影响最深的三本书是:埃德加•斯诺的《红星照耀中国》、高尔基的”《母亲》和Richard Llewellyn的《青山翠谷》。前两本书是众所周知的，而最后一本书则是叙述一个威尔斯矿工家庭的生活，和成年人如何一个又一个地死于肺病。
1959年，我在题为”建国”的校际作文比赛中撰写了第一篇政治文章，并且赢得了第二名。饶有讽刺意味的是，颁发奖项给我们的是比赛的评判乔治•汤逊( George Thomson)，他是殖民地遗留下来的人物之一，后来当了由政府设立的对公务员进行政治教育的政治研究中心的主任。
1961年，作为学校的历史学会主席，我组织了一次关于《学生在建国中的角色》的论坛。我邀请人民行动党、新加坡大学学生会和大学社会主义俱乐部派代表来 参加。拉欣•依萨( Rahim Ishak)代表行动党、许通美代表新大学生会和Francis Chen代表大学社会主义俱乐部发了言。当Francis Thomas发现我也邀请了大学社会主义俱乐部时，他气得脸色发青，但是为时已晚，来不及改变了，因为我们发出的邀请已被接受，并且已经宣布将在新加坡自 治邦庆祝日在学校举行论坛了。
1961年，《华惹》宣布在羽毛球馆举行群众大会，抗议新成立的刚果共和国首任总统卢蒙巴被人刺杀的事件。(一位比利时学者最近出版的一项研究，根据可获 得的新证据证实比利时介入此事)。我决定和我的两位同学一起出席这个大会。这是我出席过的第一个群众大会。作为对人民行动党和左翼政治错综复杂事物的一位 初学者，我被一位蓄着胡子名叫詹密星( Jamit Singh)的印裔工运人士在发言结尾时所受到的热烈的鼓掌欢呼声所困惑，它跟行动党秘书长李光耀在发言结尾时所受到的礼貌式掌声形成对比。
1962年，我和我的两位同学出席了由大学社会主义俱乐部组织的关于”合并的基础和马来西亚”的论坛，在论坛上，兀哈尔( S.Woodhull)生动地形容蒂凡那(Devan Nair)是一位”世界旅行者一 他越是向左走，就越是接近于右边”。在这个论坛上，许通美代表大学社会主义俱乐部讲话，支持新加坡独立的主张，这是他长期持有的立场。蒂凡那是我遇见的第 一个真正的政治人物。我的同学、法官Winslow的儿子，跟他很要好，在1959年他获释后带着我去见他。虽然我们是学生，但是他却眼我们畅谈了一个多 小时。我那时还不知道行动党的内部政治，被他的流利的口才和清晰的政治分析所吸引。
注册成为新加坡大学新生之后不久，我就加入了大学社会主义俱乐部。主席是来自爱德华宿舍楼最后一年的医学院学生Peter Eng，他是活跃于大学社会主义俱乐部的最后一位医学院学生，与50年代形成一个鲜明的对比，当时医学院学生领导并且支配了大学社会主义俱乐部。到了60 年代，多数活动份子来自武吉知马校园的法学院、理学院和文学院的学生，少数来自药剂系。虽然我们把Peter Eng带来的一位名叫Foo Yong Bock的医学院学生推选成为中央工作委员会的委员，以维系我们跟印度兵路(Sepoy road)爱德华宿舍楼的联系，但是他在一年之后就辞职了。与其它宿舍楼相比，爱德华楼成了大学社会主义俱乐部对外拓展的一个空白区。
在我加入之后不久，一个外表热情的印度族同学就眼我攀谈起来，他用很高的嗓音质问我为什么决定加入大学社会主义俱乐部。除了卷曲的短发和佩带的黑色镶边眼 镜之外，他穿着的宽松的白色长裤和衬衣，令我想起了甘地。在随后的几个月内，R. Joethy和我经常在下课时到同学们喜爱的树荫底下的sarabat小店里消磨了许多时光。他是大学社会主义俱乐部的一位活跃份子和优秀政论家，直到他 爱上当前的妻子Prem以后才逐渐离开了我们。
秘书长和助理秘书长分别是Lim Swee Cheong和Soh Siak Hiong。后者后来在1963年9月到伦敦经济学院去修读大学课程。我记得曾经出席他在克里门梭大道”丽的呼声”电台附近举行的告别晚宴。那是在大选的 前夕。一群为数约四、五十人的大学社会主义俱乐部会员正处在亢奋的心态之中。那天晚上充满了呼喊口号的声音，并且一定使得餐馆里的许多客人感到不快，但是 他们如果不是因为太有礼貌就是不敢反对我们。大家对于”社阵”即将在选举投票中获得压倒性胜利充满了信心。
在1963年9月大选期间，我们30多人聚集在戴美路( DalveyRd) Farideh Namazie的豪华住宅里，由他的父亲(他是一位太平 绅士)宣誓就职成为助选工作人员。这是我对真实政治的第一次体验。不知是有意的或是无意的安排，我们大多数人最后都去帮助了代表社阵竞选黄埔区 (Whampoa)的P. Oorjitham医生，他是大学社会主义俱乐部的创立会员(和首任秘书长)。很少人去帮助在甘榜格南(Kampong Glam)区代表社阵出选的陈仁贵，那里的胜选希望被认为远比黄埔这样一个中产阶级选区大得多。
虽然P. Oorjitham医生输了(陈仁贵也一样，只以237票之差输给行动党的拉惹勒南)，但是我对社阵所获得的广泛的基层支持，特别是来自比较贫苦家庭的支 持深有感触，连我们经常停下来喝汽水止渴的小贩也不肯收取分文，以展现他们的团结精神。受华文教育的社阵助选人员的奉献精神也令人印象深刻，他们一直忙碌 到深夜。当最后的选举结果被宣布时，它犹如五雷轰顶，因为许多人都预测社阵将会脱颖而出。
社阵的失利有许多原因，包括缺乏足够的时间进行正常的竞选活动(几乎不到9天的时间)，而李光耀却在几个月前就已开始他的51个选区的步行访问;替社阵印 制竞选宣传品的印刷厂受到干扰; 不允许被拘留的社阵领导人代表党参选;王永元的人民统一党在超过一半的选区派出候选人参选所造成选票分散;以及人民行动党指联邦政府对社阵的胜利将会有负 面反应的恐惧运动使得”中立”的和右翼的选票转而投向他们等。
在竞选运动期间，李光耀先生宣称大学社会主义俱乐部正受到它的前成员、现在是社阵领导人的傅树介医生和S.兀哈尔等人控制，并声称他已截获信件以证实他所说的话。大学社会主义俱乐部秘书长Lim Swee Cheong对这个指摘作出了反驳。
大选过后，对大学社会主义俱乐部的支持明显减少了。对于少数遗留下来的活动份子来说，这是一个孤独的时期。像R. Joethy这样的老练和热忱的领导成员全神贯注于应付他的法律考试，因为他在较早之前已由于他的课外活动而两次不及格。其它成员像Lim Swee Cheong则逐渐淡出。只有少数人愿意为中央工作委员会服务。印尼的”对抗”正处在高峰阶段。行动党利用了杀害两名无辜旁观者的麦唐纳大厦炸弹爆炸事件 大作文章。印尼空军空降了数十名新加坡的武装”志愿军”进入岛上的偏远地区，但是全部被活捉了。我们知道在大学社会主义俱乐部的生活不会再是称心如意的 了，但决定继续进行下去。
大学社会主义俱乐部当时处于财政窘境。为了保证有足够的基金来支持我们的活动，我们决定去拜访会员名册上的每一位附属会员(即已经毕了业，但希望保留他们 与大学社会主义俱乐部关系的前会员)。我在Soh Siak Hiong离开之后当选成为新的副秘书长。当我们亲自去拜访这些附属会员时，许多人都反应积极，给予我们50元到100元不等的赞助费，在那些日子里，这 是一个不小的金额。 王木泉(Ong Bock Chuan)不久之后接掌司库。他的表现证明了他是一个孜孜不倦的筹款兼招募新会员的能手，由于他的善于劝服别人的热忱，R. Joethy就赐给他一个”王牧师”的绰号。
我记得曾经拜访过Jerry Goh医生和陈成发医生、Hedwig Annuar以及一些我已经忘记名字的人士。少数人让我们先接受他们的一番训斥，然后才肯解囊相助。我们当作是他们慷慨解囊的代价。大学副校长B.R. Sreenivasan的儿子Gopal Baratham医生特别支持我们，经常邀请我们到他的家里喝茶或吃饭。我们也到李氏基金会去拜访拿督李光前。他是一个亲切和令人愉快的老人，客气地以茶 水接待我们，并且慷慨捐助了200元。我们年轻又热情，甚至跑到一些毕业生如Tan Peng Boo所任职的政府办公室去向他们募捐，并没有引起他们过度的尴尬。
其它的支持者包括左派律师T.T.拉惹，他无私地将他的一生和他的律师事务所的业务奉献给左翼工会、学生和政治拘留者，为他们提供免费法律服务长达数十 年。他在那些岁月里的微薄收入，并没有阻止他对大学社会主义俱乐部慷慨解囊。在中国从1982年开始对资本主义发展模式开放之后，由于他对他的长期客户中 国银行的忠诚，他的业务后来大受禅益，生活逐渐好转起来。
我们去吉隆坡，向拉惹古玛医生(Dr. M.K. RajakuJnar)、赛胡申•阿里教授(Prof. Syed Husin Ali)、陈志勤医生以及其它一些甚至跟俱乐部没有关联的人士募捐。我记得陈志勤医生曾经邀请我们到他的豪宅里共进晚餐。尽管我们在年龄之间存在着间隙， 但大家有着伟大的同志情谊。我们知道当时我们不是孤独的。
出版《Siaran Kelab Sosialis》
我们的财政状况稳定了之后，接下来的优先事项就是出版一份内部刊物，以取代被取缔的《华惹》杂志。因为我们没有对外发售的出版准证，所以我们就出版一份只 在校内、友好组织和附属会员内部发行的内部油印出版物。我们称它为《Siaran Kelab Sosialis 》，并且在页面底部添附Omar Khayyam的诗句，提醒《华惹》的读者。拉惹古玛医生后来说，如果换上Hedwig Aroozoo写的那首关于〈东方红〉的诗歌中的一句诗将会更好。
某些在《Siaran》里发表的文章是由我撰写的，部分原因是为了保证它的及时出版。我极力鼓励其它成员投稿，但效果不大。我写的主要文章是评论当时的各 种问题，从〈评吴庆瑞博士的财政预算案〉到表态支持社阵候选人王清杉等。王清杉在芳林补选中与行动党的李炯才对抗。我们呼吁王永元支持左派，他虽然作出了 正面的回应，但是行动党仍然在1964年胜出。我有时也给新大学生会的《大学生》报投稿。
从1964年到1966年之间，我们设法每年平均出版三到四期的《Siaran》，因为公开宣传大学社会主义俱乐部对当时许多问题的立场，以及传播社会主 义理论是极为重要的。每期平均出版300份，并且用人手派发，以节省邮费。尽管《Siaran》在校内的发行量有限，印刷质量也欠佳，但是我了解到如果我 们要继续出版，就得听命于校方。校方于1968年坚持大学社会主义俱乐部必须申请出版准证。索套一步步地勒紧了。
在60年代，当时的总理李光耀经常到校内来演讲。我可以回忆起在1963年发生的两件事。他在1963年由新大学生会组织的一场演讲中，对着众多的学生听 众宣称，大学社会主义俱乐部是由在伦敦的成年人操控的一个”成人宣传鼓动工具”。(他虽然没有指名道姓，但对我们来说，他显然是指流放在伦敦的约翰•伊峇 (John Eber) 。R. Joethy从学生会大厅后面大声喊道”胡说，胡说”。李先生回答说”胡说?好，我们会拿出文件证实我所说的话。它将涉及关闭一个资料来源，但由它去吧” 。《海峡时报》次日报导了整个对话，而《Siaran Kelab Sosialis》则在1964年第2卷第1期作出评论。
李总理另一次到校园参观时，王木泉决定送给他一份大学社会主义俱乐部的新机关报《 Siaran》第一期。李总理说：”哦，你们还在干啊!你们有多少会员?”站在后面的R. Joethy大声回答说”三百!”(李总理在较前的一次演讲中声称马共在新加坡只有300名成员)。
虽然马来亚(包括新加坡)的左翼，从1961年5月东姑在外国通讯员俱乐部发表演说开始，就反对”马来西亚”，而且苏加诺总统也是如此，在1963年就展 开了”粉碎马来西亚”运动，但是大学社会主义俱乐部在印尼伞兵和志愿者在马来亚半岛和新加坡空降之后，就对印尼侵犯我国领土完整一事提出批评(见 《Siaran》第2卷第3期)。大学社会主义俱乐部建议用一个比军事解决更好的办法来解决冲突，因为军事解决只为西方帝国主义的利益服务，那就是把我们 的外交关系重组为跟亚非国家那样，对东方或西方国家采取不结盟政策。对于许多观察家来说，马来西亚由于她跟西方的结盟而在联合国里遭受孤立，与苏加诺领导 下的印尼受到第三世界国家的广泛支持相比，是显而易见的。苏加诺是1955年历史性的亚非万隆会议的创始人之一。(在敦拉萨于1969年成为首相之后，这 一经验有助于改变马来西亚的外交政策，从亲西方国家转为不结盟。)
大学副校长B.R. Sreenivasan是学术自治和学术自由的一位伟大的维护者，他把柏林自由大学作为一个主要榜样。他在行动党政府尝试控制大学之后被迫退休，我和 Joethy到他家里去拜访了他。他显得很沮丧和失望，在跟我们谈论他过去的梦想和希望时啜泣。不幸的是，他的大学愿景与行动党的并不一致。我在他辞职之 后没有再看到他。
在争取大学自治、反对政府即将到来的蚕食斗争中，我们认定用来领导斗争的最佳工具是新大学生会，而不是大学社会主义俱乐部。由身材高大、富有号召力、精力 充沛和独眼的James Evatt Wee领导的另外一组大学社会主义俱乐部会员和支持者，在后来的几年内筹划并且顺利地赢得了学生会理事会的几个席位。学生会理事会的许多会议，由于右翼学 生的强烈反对而往往拖延至深夜过后才散会，除了后来组成民主社会主义俱乐部的学生之外，他们由于不同的原因而来自不同的阵营，其中有许多人来自马来西亚。
我跟新大学生会最密切的关系就是担任它的机关报《大学生》报的编辑委员，我在那里发表了一些文章。我从来不被学生会的政治混战所吸引，宁可留在小得多的和 以事业为目标的大学社会主义俱乐部的同志情谊里头。我觉得在幕后默默写作比起在大型会议上作前线辩论更为舒适，虽然我确实曾经主持过好几场大学社会主义俱 乐部的论坛和讲座。
在”冷藏行动”过后新加坡缺乏同情性校友会员的情况下，我们经常到吉隆坡去享受附属会员和其他志趣相投的朋友们的殷勤款待和聚会。由于我们计划在1964 年2月举行纪念大学社会主义俱乐部成立10周年的活动，因此我花了好几个小时采访了M.K.拉惹古玛医生，他是雪兰莪劳工党主席，在巴生行医。遗憾的是， 我后来丢失了对他所作的关于大学社会主义俱乐部早期情况的回忆的所有笔记。他和当时在”冷藏行动”下被拘禁于新加坡的傅树介医生是创会初期的关键性的推动 者，即使《华惹》编辑委员会已被扩大至包括公众人士心目中更加著名的其它成员，如詹姆斯•普都查里(James Puthucheary)和王庚武博士等人。
大学社会主义俱乐部的3位校友，詹姆斯•普都查里、S•兀哈尔和林使宾，是在”冷藏行动”中被扣留仅一年之后最先投降、并且签署谴责个人政治信仰声明作为 换取自由代价的人士。由于他们蒙受了第一批逃兵的污名，对于那些仍然在大学社会主义俱乐部里活动的我们，这是一个低潮期，因为团结对于那些被扣留的人士的 生存是至关重要的。(这个耻辱后来被大学社会主义俱乐部的其他校友，如傅树介医生和林福寿医生各自坚持几近20年的原则性抵抗，而被拭抹得一干二净了。)
我从未见过这两位医生当中的任何一位，直到他们于1972年 (傅医生的第一次获释)和1984年(林医生获释)获得释放为止。然而当我们在1963年邀请他们两位的妻子Beatrice和Grace共进晚餐时，我 见到了她们。我很天真地问Beatrice说，和她在一起的那个小男孩是不是他们唯一的儿子?她大笑地回答说”那里有时间生得更多啊!”在随后的几个月 里，我们到Grace在安柏路(Amber Rd)的公寓去看望过她好几次。我们都觉得她是一个活泼和热诚的人，百分之百的支持她的被扣留的丈夫。我们通过她们送了一些书籍过去，包括在那些日子里仍 然被允许阅读的《每月评论》 (MonthlyReview)的经典著作。这样，我们就能够给我们的被扣留的校友成 员提供一点精神上的支持，以及获得关于他们的消息。
1966年某个时候，我们几个人到法庭去聆听T.T.拉惹起诉《海峡时报》诽谤罪的审讯。该报在一则报导中说，林清祥在樟宜监狱中由于RB囚室(清祥囚禁 于此)和E Hall囚室(林医生囚禁于此)政治犯之间据称的争吵而企图自杀。我们到那里去给出庭的被拘禁的校友成员包括林福寿医生和马哈迪瓦(Mahadeva)提 供精神上的支持，并且亲眼看一看那些激励我们奋斗的人。我记得内部安全局的ASP Seah Wai Toh在法庭内盯着我们。
在詹姆斯•普都查里成为吉隆坡Skrine & Co.律师事务所的资深合伙人之后不久，我见到了他。他对李光耀十分敬重，认为李光耀是历史上少数具有远见的个人和政治领袖。他已甘心接受左翼的失败，即 使那时基层的支持仍然是强大的。他个人也对林清祥十分尊敬。我也在吉隆坡的另一个场合上见到了S•兀哈尔，但是他态度冷淡，对事情漠不关心。詹姆斯看来已 经安于他的生活状况，兀哈尔却没有。兀哈尔在若干年后完成的尚未出版的回忆录中，仍然保留着他的节操不变，没有为他过去的活动而感到遗憾。
在1963年2月”冷藏行动”期间，大学社会主义俱乐部多年来小心翼翼地积累起来的捐书，以及所购买的关于社会主义理论、其它政治经济问题的图书，由阿都 拉•马吉(Abdullah Majid)寄放在他的新加坡朋友的家里妥善保管着。他在1963年跟我们联系，要把书退还给我们。我们到巴西班让去收集这份珍贵的遗产时，见到了一位肤 色白暂、头发短曲，身材矮小结实的马来人。我在随后的几年里，在他还没有加人敦拉萨政府之前，曾在吉隆坡看望过他两次，当时大家都叫他多拉 (Dollah)。
我必须想办法在我的杜尼安路(Duneam Rd)学生宿舍的房间里安置这些图书，因为大学社会主义俱乐部在1963年之后不再有如同早年陈仁贵、R. Joethy和Wong Kum Poh三人掌管时那样，有一个作为它的主要活动份子集体住宿兼作俱乐部之家的处所。虽然俱乐部的负责人如Peter Yip和ChanFee Hon等人，在1966年恢复了一个集体共用的‘俱乐部之家’，但是由于缺乏适当的存放地点等原因，这些藏书在往后的岁月里，随着委员的改选和毕业而逐渐 丢失了。
我受托保管的最珍贵遗产，就是记录着其发展历史的《华惹》期刊一一1954年的第一期，收录着导致著名的煽动审讯的历史性社论《在亚洲的侵略》;直到50 年代末，刊头改成红色之前，那黑色刊头的独一无二精装本《华惹》;一本后来几年的红色《华惹》的平装合订本。这两本《华惹》提供了大学社会主义俱乐部从 1953年到1962年的第一个十年存在的历史资料，它是那个创立十年的政治事件和大学社会主义俱乐部立场的历史纪录。《华惹》在1963年2月的”冷藏 行动”期间被取缔了。
在新加坡于1965年8月从马来西亚分家独立之后，我们预料政府会对大学社会主义俱乐部采取干扰或惩罚措施。James Evatt Wee，另一位大学社会主义俱乐部的领导人，自告奋勇要把这两套珍贵的《华惹》合订本安全地保管在他的地下贮藏室里。他家住在达尔基斯路 (Dalkieth Rd)，贮藏室就在那宽敞庭院里。我把它们交给他保管，但是后来获悉他把它们借给了别人，现在已经无法挽救地丢失了。唯一留存的《华惹》，是在国家图书馆 和大学图书馆里(作为”被查禁的”出版物)作有限制流通的版本，仅供已登记的学者借阅。
在过去，执政的人民行动党领导层曾经特别关注党被不认同党所主张的目标和价值的人劫持的风险。新加坡在50年代和60年代正处在政治的十字路口，社会被深 刻地分化了，有些人支持执政的人民行动党领导层的计划，即基于马来亚联盟政府的建议而提出的通过合并取得独立的计划;有的人则反对根据联盟政府提供给新加 坡的条件加入马来西亚。”马来西亚”本身是英国人首先提出的概念，作为他们退出殖民地战略的一部分，类似一个新殖民主义阴谋，旨在保留英国对马来亚联合 邦、新加坡和北婆罗洲疆土的帝国影响。
1964年初，一些跟执政的人民行动党领导层有明显关系的大学生，表达了他们想要加入大学社会主义俱乐部的兴趣。–我们决定阻止他们加人。社会主义见解本 身，一直都有不同的型态，这反映了更加广阔的、具有历史意义的国际运动。一直以来，大学社会主义俱乐部都能包容这些不同观点。像Loke Yat Ken这样的众所周知的、在马来西亚和社会主义问题上持有与大学社会主义俱乐部领导层不同立场的个人，是被允许继续当会员，并提出可供选择的看法的。
我们受邀到Loke Yat Ken的家里，跟行动党的领导成员如黄麟根和Patmanaban Selvudurai等人茶叙，他们反驳我们在马来西亚问题上的立场。过后不久，我作为俱乐部的秘书长，接到了由数十名学生签名要求加入俱乐部的的申请 书。递交申请书的人是国防部长吴庆瑞博士的儿子Goh Kean Chee，而且许多与他同时申请的人都是莱佛士学院的同学。他本人是新加坡大学的一名尚未毕业的学生，
民主社会主义俱乐部成立后不久，就很荣幸地邀请到李光耀总理到来作关于《民主社会主义者面对的问题》的演讲。在较早之前，他拒绝了大学社会主义俱乐部和新 大学生会邀请对大学生作演讲(见《Siaran Kelab Sosialis》第2卷第3期， 1964年11月号)。民主社会主义俱乐部成为行动党部长们的工具，好让他们来校园对大学生作可预测的规律性演讲。到了后来，民主社会主义俱乐部实际上成 为行动党的代理人，当然也成为该党”马来西亚人的马来西亚”运动的大学生代理人。在这时候，即使是行动党的”马来西亚人民团结总机构”的成员党也受到邀 请。民主社会主义俱乐部的机关报《Demos》的创刊号，试图把他们的民主社会主义版本定义为”福利国家，一种走向更加公正和平等社会的手段”。另一篇文 章把民主社会主义描述成一种”观点和一个良好的战斗口号”。第三篇文章则声称他们的角色是培养”民族主义的自由主义者，以确保国家的生存”。(见1965 年8月号的《Siaran Kelab Sosialist 》)。
民主社会主义俱乐部成立的一个后果，就是大学社会主义俱乐部丧失了它在国际社会主义青年联盟(lUSY)的附属会员资格。IUSY后来把所有邀请出席它的 会议的通知书都转寄到人民协会去，而人民协会则不出所料地授权民主社会主义俱乐部去出席。IUSY的决定是投机取巧的，因为他们不说明原因或原则，就断绝 了跟大学社会主义俱乐部过往的所有关系。我曾经在1963年会见了前来新加坡进行最后一次访问的IUSY秘书长Sture Ericson，发觉他充其量只是一个”肚子里没有火”的社会民主党人而已。
我的前辈经常参加世界各地举行的各种国际青年学生会议，我们跟他们不同，很少在国际上活动。我只记得在1964或65年，曾经有一次跟一批美国大学生打过 交道。他们是由新大学生会协调前来新加坡进行访问的。他们特别请求与我们会面，想详细了解我们对于越南和其他国际问题的看法。他们认为中国是我们向往的模 范社会，但是我告诉他们，诸如古巴和越南等小国的社会主义实验与我们的关系更为密切。虽然越南战争和民权斗争是当时美国校园内闹得沸沸扬扬的事件，但是对 这些访客而言，它们似乎只占着次要的地位。
60年代民主社会主义俱乐部的一位前主席许黛安博士，在最近出版的新加坡刊物《圆切线》 (Tangent)上回忆说，在她的那个岁月里，大学社会主义俱乐部相对地不活跃，并且是由诸如RaymondOng和Chan Kian Hin等中产阶级大学生所管理。她又宣称，民主社会主义俱乐部是作为替代”亲共和极权的”大学社会主义俱乐部而成立的社团，但是她没有提供细节以支持她的 论点。
与许博士的指控相反，大学社会主义俱乐部在它的整个历史中，始终接受并且容纳不同社会主义倾向的成员。在我的时期，著名的持异议者Loke Yat Kuen和Lee Chee Leong(民主社会主义俱乐部主要创建人的好朋友)，都可以保留他们的会员资格，并且在校园内举行的大部分是开放给所有会员和朋友参加的会议上，自由地 和明确地表达他们的看法。我们的机关报《Siaran Kelab Sosialis》发表了与大学社会主义俱乐部立场不同的文章。中央工作委员会是在常年大会上由会员公开选举产生的。不同于其它团体，我们不是根据列宁主 义的原则一一即干部选举中央委员会，而中央委员会又反过来任命干部 —组织起来的。
虽然已经过了四十多年，我对我从1963年至1966年的大学生岁月的回忆是，在这些年里直到它最后在1971年被镇压为止的期间，大学社会主义俱乐部的 活动及其会员人数正处于它的最高峰时期。学生们特别是新生们继续寻找大学社会主义俱乐部，它的领导人是可以轻易地从各种校园社交活动中辨认出来的。作为对 公共关系和竞选行销活动的新手，我们并没有刻意地把新生、任何具体小组、政治背景的人视为招募入会的对象。我们注意的是，那些寻求加入大学社会主义俱乐部 的人，在他们入读大学之前就已经有了社会主义的倾向。
1963年，我主持了我在大学社会主义俱乐部的第一个论坛，题目是《外国援助与对外贸易》。我们邀请了韩素音医生、阿历佐西(Alex Josey)和法律学院的Athulah Mudali(他后来返回他的出生地斯里兰卡，在那里平步青云，身居内务大臣高位)。在《华惹》的早期，阿历佐西经常提供财政资助和撰写稿件，因为他把自 己伪装成一名‘自由’新闻工作者，以掩饰据称他跟英国情报部门的联系。在对外国援助的利与弊的激烈辩论中，韩素音在论坛上称他为”殖民地杂种”。从此以 后，阿历佐西不再出现在大学社会主义俱乐部的活动场合。他后来成为李光耀的一位奇妙的传记作者，并且后来被禁止进入马来西亚。
在那些日子里，最受人欢迎的主讲人无疑是韩素音医生，她是中国革命的主要国际发言人。(中国在60年代禁止外国人访问，人们普遍渴望知道关于中国的发展和 事件的准确信息，因为中国重新建构人类平等新社会的社会实验鼓舞了全世界的听众)。她是一位精力充沛和很有吸引力的演说家，可以滔滔不绝地在座无虚席的演 讲厅里讲上两个小时，让她的听众全神贯注地倾听着。她最后一次接受大学社会主义俱乐部作关于”红卫兵”演讲的邀请是在1966年，正好与李光耀总理对民主 社会主义俱乐部的演讲撞期。由于她当时住在新山，因此在长堤的关卡受到拦阻，不允许她进入新加坡，并且永久地被”禁止”入境了。
在马来西亚时，我们经常邀请马来西亚的政党领导人，包括陈志勤医生和马来亚劳工党的V.戴维、砂拉越人民联合党的王其辉医生和杨国斯，以及社阵的李绍祖医 生前来主讲。当时任职新加坡地方法庭法官的J.B.惹耶勒南，也是我们的主讲人之一。现在回想起来，当时许多这些政治讲座和论坛都是座无虚席的，反映了在 那些日子里大学生们的政治兴趣水平。我们的会员人数也处在顶峰时期。我们经常有多达四十至五十个积极会员，参加我们在邵仁枚的罗央(Loyang)独立洋 房举行的经常性的周末学习小组活动。这些活动纯粹是内部事务，没有邀请任何外界主讲人参加。虽然我们的总会员人数从未到达一百人，而且仅占大学生总人数的 一个微不足道的百分比，但是令人感到非常欣慰的是，一批批聪慧而又年轻的受英文教育的大学生源源不断地加入大学社会主义俱乐部，尽管大家都知道执政的行动 党已经不喜欢我们，而且还有民主社会主义俱乐部的存在。
据我所知，即使是在60年代，大学社会主义俱乐部的会员也大多数是来自中产阶级家庭，而且主要是受英文教育的。虽然通过政府的助学金和奖学金，大学录取新 生的人数大大增加，以容纳来自贫困家庭的合格学生，但是只有一个微小百分比的中学毕业生成功考上新加坡的高等学府。我们的会员只有小部分是来自工人阶级家 庭，而且他们总是不活跃的。
我们有许多人是在越南战争的阴影之下成长起来的。对于我们当中的一些人，那是我们青年时期的一个起决定性作用的事件。紧接着美国支持的、超过50万印尼人 民被血腥屠杀的事件和印尼共产党及其盟友实质上被赶尽杀绝之后，由新成立的越南南方民族解放阵线在1962年领导的越南起义，证实了中国的”人民战争”理 论，以及毛泽东的”帝国主义是纸老虎”的观点的正确性。
1965年美国在越南内战中的军事干预，引起全世界人民普遍的抗议和强烈的反对。越南人是搞国际团结工作和公共关系的真正高手。新加坡和马来半岛也不例 外。不计其数的贫苦、装备不良的越南农民战士，不分男女老少地反击世界上最强大的军事力量，他们的英勇牺牲巨大地鼓舞了全世界其他的解放斗争。它再一次有 力地肯定了(由地方奴仆支持和教唆的)美帝国主义，是全世界贫苦的和被压迫的殖民地人民的共同敌人。
来亚半岛其它高等院校的兄弟学生组织的密切关系。一个由大学社会主义俱乐部、南大政治学会和 新加坡工艺学院政治学会三名代表组成的”联合活动委员会”，自1960年以来就已存在，并且每年轮流当主席。这个委员会经常开会讨论，以及协调关于当前各 种共同问题的行动。
联合活动委员会开会讨论，并且议决发动一场反对越战的运动，除了举行讲座和论坛、制作在公共场所派发的反战海报之外，我们以在禧街( Hill Street)的美国使馆前面举行学生集会，呈递反对越战的备忘录作为活动的最高潮。
我花了一个星期的时间研究、完成17页长的反对越战备忘录，并由联合活动委员会的三个学生组织联名签署。备忘录详细介绍了越南人民抵抗运动的历史，从奠边 府战役谈到东京湾事件，突显了美国人使用凝固汽油和生物武器一橙色脱叶剂对付赤手空拳的平民，其后果迄今仍然可以在40年前遭受伤害的越南农民的被毁容的 孩子脸上见到。在举行批核这份文件的会议上，南大代表认为文件结尾的决议对美帝国主义侵略的谴责语句不够严厉!我们一起用适当的词组修改了该决议。
写钢板蜡纸的原始复制状态之下，我们获得了新加坡厂商工友联合会的支持。它是被吊销注册的汛星各业职工联合会的后继者。他们的职员在哇燕街(Wayang Street)会所内漏夜赶工，为我们打字和印刷一千份冗长的备忘录。他们的团结精神也表现在拒绝接受金钱报酬，以作为使用他们的有限资源的补偿，他们只要求保留一百份作为他们的会员教育用途。这份备忘录以后由左翼兄弟组织翻译成华文和马来文，散发到整个马来半岛去。大学社会主义俱乐部的形象，再次远播到 校园之外。
在美国使馆外的反战集会没有实现。南大学生在遭受自1963年以来无数次的拘捕、开除学籍和驱逐出境以后，投票反对参加集会，因为他们相信这个集会将会引 起进一步的拘捕行动。由于大学社会主义俱乐部和工艺学院政治学会没有足够的会员人数来搞一次大规模的集会，我们决定只向美国大使提呈备忘录。对我们来说， 这是一个令人扫兴的结局，我们觉得大失所望。大学社会主义俱乐部向来都采取符合社会主义国际性、跟被压迫的殖民地人民的斗争相一致的行动，但是我们的富有 战斗精神的南大兄弟却令我们失望。
在随后的60年代末期，即从1966年到1968年，美军轰炸河内和海防，战争扩大到北越，因此在新的领导层领导之下，大学社会主义俱乐部积极恢复和参与 了其它左翼组织的反越战运动。1966年，阿都拉萨和Peter Yip在校内组织一次具有创意和影响力的美国对越南平民犯下的战争暴行的图片展览。大学社会主义俱乐部秘书长Chan Fee Hon是最有作为的新领导人，他在1967年担任以李绍祖医生为主席的《援助越南委员会》委员。这个联系被认为具有足够重大的意义，值得吴庆瑞博士在 1966年对民主社会主义俱乐部的一次演讲中作出评论。(谢太宝是在1967年美国约翰逊来访时举行的一次反越战示威中被拘捕，并且后来被扣留了长达27 年之久。他是社阵的国会议员。)
新加坡加入马来西亚约莫一年之后，我们接到了二个参观马来西亚外交部新加坡分支机构的邀请。谦恭有礼和富有魅力的哈仑•宾•依布拉欣(Harun bin Ibrahim)接见了我们，并且告诉我们说，中央政府不反对大学社会主义俱乐部或它的任何成员，有意要和我们就”国家课题”展开对话。在联盟政府长期敌 视马来半岛左翼运动的情况下，这对我们来说是一个有趣的形势转变。
这证明了是环境上的一个适合时宜的变化，并且消除了行动党编造的故事，即大学社会主义俱乐部是新加坡共产党统一战线的一个部分。这也给予了大学社会主义俱 乐部反制衡受行动党支持的民主社会主义俱乐部的一个力量。有一次，一位南大生被新加坡政府以”安全”为理由，拒绝批准他到荷兰去攻读研究生课程。在哈仑的 帮助下，联合邦政府否决了州政府的决定，给该名学生签发了一本护照，让他顺利出国。
外交部常任秘书加扎利•沙菲( Ghazalie Shafie)，是第一位到大学社会主义俱乐部发表演说的资深马来西亚官员。这在俱乐部的历史上是史无前例的。在加扎利•沙菲演讲过后，我们一起喝咖啡， 当我们向他提出复办在1963年的”冷藏行动”下被取缔的《华惹》问题时，他的态度友善，但是避免对复刊一事作出承诺。虽然我们把我们所提出的出版物改名 为《Bersatu》，但是许可证始终没有发出。
马来西亚副首相敦阿都拉萨来到校内发表演讲。双方同意，对他来说，在一个由新加坡大学学生会(即USSU)组织的集会演讲，要比在有政治倾向的大学社会主 义俱乐部组织的集会演讲更为合适。当时的学生会是由大学社会主义俱乐部的成员所控制的。在一个由敦拉萨举行的关于他的访问的招待会上，几位学术人员包括历 史系讲师Chiang Hai Ding博士(行动党成员)和我们的整个中央工作委员会都被邀请了。我开始认识他的政治秘书阿都拉•阿末
( Abdullah Ahmad)，一个快活和富有魅力的人。
在学生会组织的另一个讲座中马哈迪医生被邀请了。他当时刚跟马来西亚首相东姑阿都拉曼闹翻不久，仍然处在在野的政治状态之中。马哈迪发表题为〈马来人特 权〉的演讲，说马来人是在自己的国家中被人剥夺了公民权利的民族。我记得许通美当时的强烈反应，他通常是一个情绪容易激动的人。他问道”对于一个移民来 说，他需要多长的时间才能把这个国家叫作自己的国家呢?”
陈修信在演说中猛烈抨击行动党给新加坡加入马来西亚共同市场的道路设置障碍，共同市场是新加坡加入马来西亚之后预期带来的许多好处之一。演讲结束后，他请 求我介绍他给出席晚宴的15张筵席中的每位来宾认识。我认为他是在进行竞选活动。不久之后，在我的非洲旅行之前，我受邀到他的吉隆坡办公室去见他。他告诉 我说中央政府对大学社会主义俱乐部或任何成员都不持有什么看法。他也问我”您是否认为吴庆瑞博士将成为马来西亚一位好的财政部长?”
在那些年头里，经济系有着强大的自由传统，不同于黄麟根博士和Chiang Hai Ding的历史系，那是行动党的一个强大堡垒。经济系教授包括著名的持有左派观点的John Purcal博士和Donald Blake博士。前者在1962年向大学社会主义俱乐部会员作了三次关于”政治经济”系列的演讲，后者则是研究劳工经济和印尼问题的专家。
John Purcal出生于马来亚橡胶园的一个贫苦家庭，通过自己的努力完成高等教育，有一阵子在圣安德烈学校教过书。他后来毕业于英国的赫尔(Hull)大学， 继而前往加拿大卡尔加里( Calgary)攻读研究生课程。John告诉我，在青年时期他口袋里通常只有不超过十分钱。在英国，他加入了工党，也认识了Hugh Gaitskell。
当殖民地政府在1957年拘捕许多左翼工会人士、学生和领袖时，他向Hugh Gaitskell提出抗议，但是后者告诉他说，”行动党领袖”支持这些拘捕行动。John及时地把这个消息传递回他在马来半岛的朋友，因而招惹了李光耀 对他的敌意。李总理于1966年或67年在一次校园演讲中说，”社阵成员现在正在砸毁红绿灯和用油漆在街道上涂鸦，但是我不会惊讶，如果共产党人仍然在大 学社会主义者当中保留着他们年老的忠实信徒，这些人由于年岁增长而日见肌肉松弛和不大露面”。
我和Lim Teck Hui、王木泉则另外参加一个马来西亚学生代表团，跟半岛马来西亚的其他高等院校的学生代表一起前往非洲和斯里兰卡访问六个星期。访问埃及过后，我们分成 两批， Teck Hui和木泉访问东非，我则去访问西非。我记得访问过开罗、塞拉利昂、拉各斯、象牙海岸、加纳和塞内加尔，会晤了他们各自的学生会。让我印象最深刻的是阿 拉伯的学生领袖，当时埃及正处在纳赛尔(Nasser)领导下的阿拉伯民族主义的高潮时刻。在加纳，由另一位传奇的反殖领袖恩克鲁玛(Nkrumah)带 领的非洲民族主义也很引人注目。后殖民主义的非洲充满了希望和前途。城市是繁忙的，但是没有交通阻塞，不论昼夜到处走动都是安全的。几乎看不到非法屋、贫 民窟或叫化子。在最后一站的达喀尔(塞内加尔首都)，我们从接见我们的塞内加尔教育部长那里获知了新加坡从马来西亚分家独立的重大新闻!
如果星马没有分家，新加坡留在马来西亚的范围之内，人们说不定会猜测新加坡内部的政治会发生什么转变。我们知道联合邦政府正在认真考虑释放在”冷藏行动” 之下被扣留的主要左翼领袖。根据推测，他们的情报机构一直都确定许多在1963年2月2日和以后被监禁的人士，其实都不曾是马共党员或它的任何卫星组织的 成员。因为英国的殖民地档案有着大量的证据证明，是行动党领导层极力要求拘捕他们当中的许多人，而且要求拘捕得更多。
回过头来看，我们在60年代中期正面回应马来西亚政府的示好的动机究竟是政治机会主义还是政治策略呢?我想或许是两者的混合。尽管苏加诺的”粉碎马来西 亚”运动仍在进行之中，马来西亚已经成为一个既成的事实。新加坡左派正处在政治困境之中，必须有人打破僵局。在我们看来，释放政治犯将会带来关键性的变 化。(虽然李绍祖医生对我们的行动感到不高兴，但我在若干年之后获知，在樟宜监狱里被扣留的领袖，一般上都赞同我们与吉隆坡达成默契的策略。)
谢太宝和李绍祖医生之间发生意识形态上的争执，以后者要求前者作”羞辱性的”的公开道歉作为恢复党团结的代价而宣告结束。这个作法肯定无助于恢复大众的信 心和尊敬。虽然大学社会主义俱乐部里的一些受华文教育的成员曾找我斡旋这场党内争执，但是我没有这样做，因为我不准备加入社阵。我曾经跟李绍祖医生接触过 许多次，我并不敬佩他的领导能力。他在较早之前从东京的”禁止原子弹”和平会议回来之后，就变得过度自信起来。北京广播电台广播了他赞扬中国发展自己的原 子弹的演讲。
在1966年，一部分原因是由于新加坡国会越来越多的限制措施(即所有议员的发言时间被限制在45分钟)和很少举行国会会议( 1965年只开过两次会)，一部分原因是由于中国事态的发展，社阵决定把旗下议员撤出国会，并且把斗争带到街头上去。如果没有别的原因的话，这个激烈的政 策改变要对社阵作为新加坡主要的政治力量，在随后的没落和消亡，并导致行动党垄断国会20年或更长的时间这一情况负责。1966年，国防部长吴庆瑞博士向 新加坡大学本科生作的一次演讲中评论说，有4万个订阅户的社阵机关报是一个非常有影响力的出版物，因为一般上说，读者的人数会远远超过订阅户的人数。
在英国的殖民地统治下，华校生是长期处于不利的条件之下和不能享受正当社会权益的新加坡社会成员。自1961年或62年，新加坡大学通过开设两年制的双语 大学先修班课程、对华校高中毕业生开放门户后，华校生开始进入新加坡大学就读，人数逐渐增加。无论他们的个人政治信仰是什么，他们当中却有为数不多但是平 稳的人数加入了大学社会主义俱乐部。个别地说，华校生都有一种不使人注意的倾向，但是总体而言，他们无论是在高潮或低潮时期都显示出是大学社会主义俱乐部 的忠诚可靠的支持者。在我的那个时期，大多数人都很少扮演重要的角色，除了少数人之外，如赵燊儒、Choo Si Sen、Koh Siong， Chng Hoo Song和Ngoh Teck Nam等。像林使宾和Wong Kum Poh那样的真正活跃的份子是在较早之前入读的。我特别被后者所吸引，因为我们对马克思主义经济学有着共同的兴趣，但是他在1964年前往伯明翰攻读研究 生课程，并且成为了计量经济学家。计量经济学的定量分析模式，为解决人类社会面对的复杂社会经济问题提供了一个很好的办法。
受华文教育左翼份子的一个卓著的特征，就是他们支持并且精通作为统一的马来亚国家语言的马来语。或许是因为他们在掌握殖民地主人语言的流利性方面吃了亏， 因此他们专心致志和持久不懈地努力学习马来语。像Wong Kum Poh和邓亮洪等人都是精通三语的，不管在许多年之后受华文教育者如后者遭受到什么华人沙文主义的指控。
在大学社会主义俱乐部里，尽管受华文教育成员和受英文教育成员都有马克思的社会主义的共同思想，但是却存在着一些明显的和可识别的文化差异。前者在生活中 倾向于严谨，不同于受英文教育者。在大学社会主义俱乐部偶尔在罗央举行的周末聚会里，当政治辩论以较不严谨的社交活动如跳舞以结束当天晚上活动时，受华文 教育的核心成员就会退到一个默不作声的人群里，然后以显然不屑的目光看着他们这群不自制的同志们在嬉戏作乐。
从这些小事中，我对受华文教育朋友的世界观有了更好的了解。生活对他们来说，非黑即白，非善即恶。不同于受英文教育者，他们认为在这两者之间是没有灰色的 色调的。对许多人来说，这是他们的优点，也是他们的缺点。对我们来说，在我们寻求一个不受外国或本国精英统治压迫的正义和平等的人类社会中，中国革命从来 不是一个起点，也不是一个终点，它只是继布尔什维克革命之后的环球变革辩证法中的第二个里程碑而已。 受华文教育和受英文教育左翼之间的另一个分别，就是我们的知识食谱。除了大家都消化马克思主义的经典著作和毛的思想之外，我们还阅读诸如Maurice Dobbs和Christopher Caudwell等英国马克思主义者的著作。Paul Sweezy和Leo Huberman创立的”每月评论学派”是我们汲之不尽的永恒源泉。在垄断金融资本和帝国主义时代，他们是把马克思主义的分析原则应用于现代社会应用得最 好的人士。
在那些日子里，大学图书馆有一个非常好的期刊部，我们在那里发现了一本社会主义思想的月刊《每月评论》。即使《北京评论》也可以自由借阅，反映了我们那个 时代的学术自由。马克思主义的经典著作在乌节路的大学书店里公开销售。以后，当Donald Moore画廊在克里门梭道开张时，它总是存放着许多英文版的最新的中国理论出版物。这样，我们就能够跟上中苏思想论战和从1965年开始的中国文化大革 命的曲折变化了。
后来义安学院成为受华文教育学生战斗精神的一个新中心，并且遭受了和南大一样的命运。在1965年，在他们计划举行的一次罢课斗争之前，我被邀请向他们的 学生发表讲话。1966年10月，由大学社会主义俱乐部主席阿都拉萨( Abdul Razak)带领的30名成员，加入他们在市议会大厦前的示威行列，以支持他们对《汤寿伯报告书》 (Thong Saw Pak Report)的抗议。示威队伍被镇压暴动队粗暴地驱散了。每一位参与的大学社会主义俱乐部成员，在内安局拍摄的照片中逐一被辨认了出来。新加坡大学的4 位学生领袖与南大的67位学生一起被驱逐出境，其中包括阿都拉萨和Peter Yip(当时的秘书长)。但是对印尼出生的Chan Kian Hin的驱逐令却由于他的伯父，即经济发展局的一位高级官员曾振木的干预而被撤销了。
政府采取如此严厉行动的背后真正原因是，”全国学生行动阵线”正在鼓吹: 1)注册一个包括四大院校的”新加坡全国学生联合会”；2) 恢复较早前被吊销注册的南大学生会； 3) 反对根据学生的政治观点筛选入读高等院校学生的”准读证”的运动。驱逐涉入此事的马来西亚学生领袖出境的目的，是为了阻止新加坡学生进一步介入学生会的战 斗活动。
与其它少数民族如印度人相比，马来人向来都是新加坡大学校园内一个人数极小的少数民族。他们加入大学社会主义俱乐部的会员人数，反映了他们在大学生人口中 的代表性不足。尽管他们的人数不多，但是大学社会主义俱乐部一直都支持马来语作为一个包括新加坡在内的统一的、自由的和独立的马来亚的国语。大学社会主义 俱乐部也吸引了知名的马来知识分子作为它的领袖，从早年的阿都拉•马吉(Abdullah Majid)到后来60年代中期在伦敦创立”马来亚社会主义青年会”( Pemuda Sosialis Malaya)的卡欣阿末( Kassim Ahmed)等。他们以大学社会主义俱乐部的少数会员作为开始，逐渐发展成为自己的核心会员，但是发展得远比大学社会主义俱乐部所渴望达到的顺利得多。
我开始认识和喜欢我在大学社会主义俱乐部时期的少数突出的马来活动份子。Zakaria Omar是一位年纪比较大的学生，他在入读大学之前，曾经担任教师。他也是阿布•峇卡(Abu Bakar)医生的新加坡人民党的一个积极党员。我还记得在开斋节期间，我们在他的芽笼士乃甘榜家里品尝的一顿马来美食。个人悲剧后来发生在他跟美国社会 学家、马来西亚社会学研究院院长Shirle Gordon博士结婚之后。据《海峡时报》的一则报导说，他被李光耀揭露为”他们的卧底”，”受指示”跟一位据称是中央情报局特工的她结婚。Shirle Gordon博士后来被禁止入境新加坡，并且搬到吉隆坡去，在那里继续管理马来西亚社会学研究院长达几十年。她一直是大学社会主义俱乐部的一个支持者，经 常以不止一种方式支持我们，为我们了解马来和伊斯兰教社会提供了一座重要的知识桥梁。我经常到她在屋士里路(Oxley Road)的办公室去拜会她。她最后一次在大学社会主义俱乐部的活动场合露面，是参加我们的”族群主义和国家团结研讨会”。所有呈交的论文后来都在 《Intisari》上面发表了。
阿都拉萨•阿末是由我介绍加入大学社会主义俱乐部的，当时他正在念法律系，是莱佛士楼( Raffles Hall)的寄宿生。拉萨成为我在大学社会主义俱乐部时期最活跃的马来会员，并且和Peter Yip、Gurdial Singh以及Chan Kian Hin(后来被撤销)一起被新加坡驱逐出境，因为他们在1966年参与了”全国学生行动阵线”抗议政府实施大学入学”准读证”的行动。(”全国学生行动阵 线”是一个等待注册的代表新大、南大，工艺学院和义安学院的”新加坡学生全国联合会”的一个暂时性团体。)大学入学”准读证”的目的，是要根据学生的政治 观点而不是他们的学历来筛选和录取入读新加坡高等院校的学生。虽然拉萨和Peter Yip都不是全国学生行动阵线的12人理事会的成员，但是他们却被认定是大学社会主义俱乐部的两名主要的马来西亚人。
阿都拉萨毕业以后，在新山执律师业，继续以毕生的奉献，通过他在马来西亚人民党和后来的人民公正党担任的各种领导职务，为马来西亚的穷人和被压迫者奋斗， 尽管他患了哮喘病。像PeterYip一样，他继续被禁止进入新加坡。由于长年的恶劣健康、工作和 压力以及忽略治疗，他在2008年不幸去世了。
大学社会主义俱乐部的马来西亚岁月( 1963-1965)，也是俱乐部获得马来大学生支持的高峰期。只有一名马来学生大概由于他跟莱佛士学院毕业生的私人关系而成为民主社会主义俱乐部的成 员，他们统统都是Goh Kean Chee的同学并且成为民主社会主义俱乐部的创立人。(具有讽刺意味的是，这位马来大学生的父亲在1963年因为在印马对抗之下的亲印尼活动而被拘捕。)
大学社会主义俱乐部还有许多马来会员，到后来成为马来西亚各界的杰出人士。他们包括一位重要的诗人和作家莫罕默德•哈芝•沙列(Mohd. Haji Salleh)教授、成为首席检察官的已故的莫达•阿都拉( Mohkthar Abdullah)、成为马来西亚人民党秘书长的山努西•奥斯曼(Sanusi Osman)，以及在马来西亚某大学任教的哈林•奥马(Halim Omar)教授。即使是在1965年8月分离和独立以后，从长堤彼岸过来的学生还是可以自由地加入和担任大学社会主义俱乐部的职务，并且在这方面维护了两 地的象征性团结。
大学社会主义俱乐部会员的充满活力的多元种族和多元文化特点，是马来亚受英文教育左派的最优良传统。大学社会主义俱乐部在某些方面，是已经停止活动的马来 亚民主同盟的继承者。在后紧急状态，以及独立的马来亚引导跨越种族的左翼运动复兴方面，俱乐部都具有潜在影响力。这个真正多元族群和多元文化愿景无法实 现，是由于随后的政治发展所形成的复杂族群因素所造成的，应另作分析和叙述。
我在大学社会主义俱乐部做的最后一件事，就是构思和筹划”族群主义和民族团结”的两天研讨会，这个研讨会由新的领导层阿都拉萨、Peter Yip和Chan Fee Hon实行和主持，因为我已在1966年5月毕业了。然而，由于我在经济研究中心和后来在经济系工作的缘故，我继续留在武吉知马校园内直到1968年底。
“国家问题”长期考验着所有寻求马来亚脱离英国统治的进步力量。英国人经历帝国几个世纪磨炼出来的”分而治之”策略，给战后马来亚留下深刻的社会分化。在 社会光谱的一端是一个享受固有的特权、受到在马来人保留地上耕作的马来农民支持的马来封建统治精英，另一端则是城镇贫民窟中的不满现状和积极进取的华人移 民人口，以及处在两者之间的印度种植园工人阶级。大学社会主义俱乐部在1953年2月的创立宣言中宣称”今天，一个新的危险一民族主义正在威胁着马来 亚”。
新加坡在1965年8月脱离马来西亚，就是由于种族因素推动的，因为一个主要是华人的行动党领导的马来西亚团结总机构，向巫统领导的管治马来西亚的联盟提 出了挑战。行动党基于它的40-40-20公式而提出的族群算术加剧了种族紧张关系。事实上，新加坡在1964年7月和9月间就发生了两次种族冲突。政治 分离并没有熄灭长堤两岸的行动党或左翼对于未来马来亚重归统一的梦想。
筹划和举行一场关于”国家问题”的研讨会，邀请很多杰出学者和社会活动家来探讨这个课题是适合时宜的。在左翼方面，我们邀请了卡欣阿末、赛胡申阿里、陈志勤医生和李绍祖医生。而马来西亚社会学研究所主任Shirle Gordon博士、赛胡申阿拉达斯( Syed Hussein Alatas)教授、许通美和Lee Soon Ann博士的到来，更给这个活动增光不少。甚至连与东姑闹翻之后、当时正处在在野政治状态之中的马哈迪医生，也来参加研讨会和提呈论文。另外一位附属会员 Ahmad Mustapha也是如此，他后来在敦拉萨政府中担任要职。三个工作会议分别由著名学者主持即K.J. Ratnam教授、Victor Fie教授和Donald Blake博士。
超过100位大学生、毕业生和教职员把学生会的会议厅挤得水泄不通，证明大家对这个课题的广泛兴趣。论文和会议纪要后来被汇编起来，并在马来西亚社会学研 究所的出版物《Intisari》中出版。尽管这个课题是那么的重要，以及主讲者对这个问题作出了透彻的分析，但是主流报章都拒绝报导研讨会的任何活动， 据推测是因为它是由大学社会主义俱乐部所组织的缘故。
新加坡大学药剂系的T.H.Elliott教授是众所周知的行动党党员和大学发言人，他批评大学社会主义俱乐部邀请”外国人”来参加研讨会，因为新加坡已 经于1965年9月从马来西亚分离出来。对他来说，通过亲自出席研讨会，跟他们一起作公开演讲，将会是更有成效的，因为政治分离并没有解除族群主义的威 胁。
不管当时的情况如何，只要大学社会主义俱乐部存在一天，对于少数在知识范围之外思考、要对他们的时代的社会弊病和不公道寻求更加深刻答案的受英文教育学生 来说，它的继续存在仍然是一块磁铁。因此在行动党统治下制造出来的庞大政权，必须消灭大学社会主义俱乐部。俱乐部终于在1971年在社团法令的专门术语之 下被封闭了。那年出版的一期《大学生报》刊登大学社会主义俱乐部的最后一份声明，说它决定拒绝接受社团注册官提出的要它提交”年度收益申报表”的要求，因 此在后来被吊销注册了。官方庇护的民主社会主义俱乐部则继续存在，直到今天。
大学社会主义俱乐部的消失，并没有终止受英文教育大学生的战斗精神。新一代的领袖在70年代中期崛起，像陈华彪和陈月清等名字出现了，他们当中有些是基督 教社会运动家，他们像大学社会主义俱乐部里更具有思想的同伴一样，努力建立他们与新加坡的”新兴工业”工人的联系，一起向行动党的劳工代理”全国职总” (NTUC)的支配提出挑战。那时，无论是左派的或非左派的独立劳工运动都已被摧毁了。然而在受华文教育的和受英文教育的大学校园里，新的幼苗开始再发 芽。一些人更加敢于承担风险的极限，也超越大学社会主义俱乐部的任何领导层。树欲静而风不止。
新加坡和马来西亚左翼尽管已经奋斗了将近80年，但是由于许多原因而无法胜利，一部分是国际的，但主要是国内的原因。这个时候在这里作有见地的评论和分析 是不适宜的。一言蔽之，大学社会主义俱乐部是这场历史运动的不可分割部分，而且它的影响力远远大于它的会员人数。我们具有一种使命感，推动我们的是爱国心 和为人民服务的结合体，而不是个人利益。 曾经和我同窗的大学同学当中，有一些同志和同路人已经不在了。他们包括:
1 Chan Fee Hon:他在1969年毕业后不久，就到香港工作定居， 在40岁刚出头时就死于 症，留下妻子和一对儿女。他们近年选择以新加坡为家。
Wong Kum Poh:在考获伯明翰大学的博士学位后，在新加坡大学的经济系任教若干年，50岁出头时死于心脏病，留下妻子和独子。
Raymond Ong:在圣安德烈初级学院担任英语老师很多年，在50 岁时去世，留下妻子和两个孩子。
Chan Kian Hin:在30多岁的壮年时期，在云顶高原附近的一次悲剧性的直升机事故中，跟他的菲律宾女友和大学社会主义俱乐部校友Ng Kwek Sin一起丧生。他的前妻和女儿现住在多伦多。
Lim Teck Hui:在50多岁时死于心脏病，留下妻子和三个孩子。
James Evatt Wee:在80年代消失得无影无踪，据说他去了美国。 他没有出席他父亲的 葬礼，后来他也死了。
Abdul Razak Ahmed: 2008年在新山逝世，留下配偶， 4个儿子 和孙子。
Coming of Age in the Sixties
Koh Kay Yew
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number –
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you –
Ye are many – they are few.
Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy
I grew up in a Christian missionary school in Singapore, reared on a diet of bible studies that I excelled in and laced with a heavy dose of the English romantic poets, the combination of which stirred my youthful imagination to great heights. Having been brought up in a conservative middle class Chinese family I was drawn into politics more by circumstances than by choice. In the 1950s Singapore was caught in the throes of the anti-colonial struggle which reached fever pitch in 1959. The intense political atmosphere that engulfed Singapore that year arose from the election campaigns of both the People’s Action Party (PAP) and other political parties to form the first self-governing state on the island. Only foreign affairs and defence were to remain under the British colonial government.
General election campaigns in those days were conducted over extensive periods lasting several weeks. It was only from the 1963 general elections that the PAP amended the law to compress electioneering to as little as nine days. As television had not yet arrived in Singapore, the mass media comprised radio, newspapers, magazines and the mass rally, by far the most popular vehicle for all political parties to present their candidates and platforms to the electorate. It was ‘street theatre’ at its best where the candidates’ choice of dialects or languages and oratorical skills counted.
My father’s family owned Kwang Heng Goldsmith on South Bridge Road, once the premier retail goldsmith in Singapore. He was a political conservative and an ardent supporter of the Singapore People’s Alliance led by Lim Yew Hock. He was very upset when the PAP won with a landslide victory in 1959. (He only switched to the PAP in 1963 in response to their ‘fear’ campaign that a pro-communist Barisan Sosialis victory would provoke the Alliance Party’s federal government to resort to direct rule over Singapore). My mother came from Kuala Lumpur where I was born in 1944 and we moved to Singapore shortly after but before the Japanese surrender. My maternal grandfather lived with my maternal grandmother, his second wife, and their eight offspring in a huge colonial bungalow on Circular Road. My grandfather and his two surviving brothers owned and managed the major Chinese wine distillery in Kuala Lumpur, was the sole agent for Hennessy, owned a tin mine and biscuit factory, and was one of the wealthiest men in postwar Malaya. Unlike my paternal grandfather, he was a warm and kind man who gave generously and treated his employees as his own family. I spent all my school holidays in Kuala Lumpur with many happy memories. Malaya to me was not some abstract political concept but a social reality that I grew up in and loved.
Since I was young I have always felt a strong compassion for the poor and less fortunate in society. Some of our close relatives in Singapore fell on hard times but were generously supported by my father. One relative even had to give away all their five little girls for adoption. Another struggled on and clung together, all nine siblings and their parents. Life for them was frugal but they stayed a happy and loving family. Money was not everything in life.
My family fell on hard times in or about 1960 when the goldsmith business closed due partly to market competition and partly to internal conflicts within the extended family. My father managed to find a job as a cashier at Maybank where he toiled long hours for a modest salary until his retirement at the age of sixty. As money was short we saved on unnecessary expenses. I experienced at first hand the meaning of ‘class struggle’.
I attended St Andrew’s School from 1950 to 1962 when I passed the Higher School Certificate exams with triple distinctions and two credits. Francis Thomas, the new principal, congratulated me on being the top student in the graduating year. I was awarded the Singapore State Scholarship (predecessor to the President’s Scholarship) in 1963 when I enrolled in the university. My scholarship was revoked in 1964 as a consequence of my activities in the University Socialist Club (USC) as no reasons were given. Since I still held two other scholarships awarded by the University of Singapore I was able to complete my studies without undue hardship except cutting down on the books I bought and stayed at home instead of the residential hostels.
The twelve years I spent in St Andrew’s School were responsible for my conscientisation. Being situated close to Potong Pasir many of the students came from humble working class families. Some even wore tattered shoes to school. We had a school building fund that went on in perpetuity without any new building being erected (until years after my graduation in 1962). Rumours were that it was a slush fund for the horse gambling losses of the school’s principal for over a decade. A classmate who failed his exams over consecutive years was able to graduate with us to the higher grades year after year without ever staying back. His father was a multi-millionaire and close friend of the principal.
The conjunction of all these factors amidst the political hothouse atmosphere of Singapore in 1959–1960 awakened my social conscience. I had become aware of the USC through the sale of its organ Fajar at the newstand besides the old Rex Cinema on Mackenzie Road as I used to patronise the stall since I was young. Fajar helped my political education together with some books I came to read. Three that left a deep impact on my mind were Edgar Snow’s Red Starover China, Maxim Gorky’s Mother and Richard Llewellyn’s How Green was my Valley. The first two titles are well known while the last narrated the lives of a Welsh mining family and how the adults succumbed, one by one, to lung disease.
In 1959 I wrote my first political essay and won the second prize in the inter-school essay competition on nation building. Ironically the prizes were presented to us by George Thomson, the judge of the competition, one of the colonial hangovers who later became director of the Political Studies Centre, founded by the government for the political education of civil servants. In 1961 as president of the Historical Society at school I organised a forum on the ‘Role of Students in Nation Building’ where I invited the PAP, USSU and USC to send representatives. Rahim Ishak spoke for the PAP, Tommy Koh for USSU and Francis Chen for USC. When Francis Thomas discovered that I had also invited the USC, he was livid with rage but it was too late to be changed as the invitations had been accepted and the forum to be held in school on Singapore’s national day had been announced.
In 1961 Fajar announced a mass rally at the Badminton Hall to protest the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first president of the new Republic of Congo. (A recently published study by a Belgian scholar verified Belgian involvement from new evidence available). I decided to attend with two of my schoolmates. This was the first mass rally I ever attended. Being a novice to the intricacies of PAP and left politics, I was puzzled over the ovation at the end of the address by a bearded Indian trade unionist called Jamit Singh. It was in contrast to the polite applause at the end of the final address given by the PAP secretary general, Lee Kuan Yew.
In 1962 I attended with two of my classmates a forum organised by the USC on the ‘Basis of Merger and Malaysia’ where Sydney Woodhull colourfully described Devan Nair as ‘as a world traveller – the more he moved to the left the closer he got to the right’. At this forum Tommy Koh, who spoke on behalf of the USC, advocated the proposal for an independent Singapore, a position he had long held. Devan Nair was the first real politician I ever met. My schoolmate, the son of Justice Winslow, was friendly with him and took me to see him after his release in 1959. Though we were schoolboys, he gave us more than an hour of his time. Not knowing the inner politics of the PAP at that time, I was mesmerised by his eloquence and lucid political analysis. I was no longer a stranger to the USC when I started my freshman year.
Joining the University Socialist Club in 1963
Not long after my enrolment as a freshman at the University of Singapore I became a member of the USC. The president was Peter Eng, a final year medical student from King Edward Hall. He was the last medical student to be active in the USC, a sharp contrast to the fifties when medical undergrads led and dominated the USC. By the sixties the majority of activists came from the law, science and arts faculties on the Bukit Timah campus, with some from pharmacy. Though Peter brought in a fellow medical undergrad called Foo Yong Bock, whom we elected to the central working committee to maintain our links to King Edward Hall on Sepoy Road, he resigned from his position after a year. King Edward Hall became the void in the outreach of the USC in contrast to the other residential halls.
Shortly after I joined I was accosted by an intense looking Indian dressed in baggy white trousers and shirt who reminded me of Mahatma Gandhi except that he had short curly hair and wore dark-rimmed glasses. In a high-pitched voice he interrogated me over why I decided to join the USC. R. Joethy and I were to spend many an hour between classes over the following months at the students’ favourite sarabat stall under shady trees. He was one of the USC’s livewires and an excellent political writer until he drifted away from us after falling in love with his wife, Prem.
The secretary general and assistant secretary general were Lim Swee Cheong and Soh Siak Hiong. The latter subsequently left in September 1963 to pursue undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics. I recalled attending his farewell dinner near the Rediffusion headquarters on Clemenceau Avenue. It was on the eve of the general elections. The crowd of USC’s members, forty to fifty strong, was in a boisterous mood. The night was filled with slogan shouting and must have alienated many other guests of the restaurant present but they were either too polite or intimidated to object. There was over confidence that Barisan Sosialis would sweep the polls.
1963 General Elections – a Watershed
During the general elections in September 1963 over thirty of us were sworn in by Farideh Namazie’s father, a Justice of the Peace, at his gracious home on Dalvey Road before we became election workers. It was my first taste of real politics. Whether by design or default, most of us ended up helping Dr P. Oorjitham, a founding member (and first secretary general) of the USC at his constituency in Whampoa where he stood as a Barisan Sosialis candidate. Few if any went to help Tan Jing Quee, who stood for the Barisan in Kampong Glam, where the prospects were deemed to be much better than in a middle class ward like Whampoa. Though P. Oorjitham lost (and so did Tan Jing Quee by a hair-thin margin of only 237 votes to the PAP’s Rajaretnam), I was visibly struck by the widespread ground support for the Barisan especially among poorer families. Even the soft drinks hawkers where we often stopped to quench our thirst refused to accept any payment to demonstrate their solidarity. The dedication of the Chinese-educated Barisan election workers was impressive as they toiled late into the night. When the final election results were declared it came as a thunderbolt as many had predicted a Barisan victory.
The Barisan lost for many reasons. They included lack of time for proper campaigning (barely nine days) while Lee Kuan Yew had embarked on his fifty-one constituency walkabout months ahead; harassment of the printer producing Barisan’s election materials; denial of permission for detained Barisan leaders to stand as election candidates; the split vote caused by Ong Eng Guan’s United People’s Party fielding candidates in over half the constituencies; and a campaign of fear to swing the ‘neutral’ and right vote to the PAP from the threat of a negative federal government’s reaction to a Barisan victory. During the election campaigns Lee Kuan Yew accused the USC of being controlled by fomer members like Dr Poh Soo Kai and Sydney Woodhull, who were now leaders of the Barisan, and claimed to have intercepted correspondence to substantiate his claim. Lim Swee Cheong as secretary general of the USC disputed the charge.
After the elections support for the USC visibly declined. It was a lonely time for the few activists left. An experienced and dedicated leading member like R. Joethy was preoccupied with passing his law exams having failed twice earlier due to his extracurricular activities. Others like Lim Swee Cheong melted away. Few were willing to serve on the central working committee. The Indonesian ‘konfrontasi’ was at its height. The PAP capitalised on the bomb blasts at McDonald House which killed two innocent bystanders. Some few dozen armed Singapore ‘volunteers’ were parachuted into the remote parts of the island by the Indonesian air force but were all caught. We knew that life in the USC would not be a bed of roses and resolved to move on.
The USC’s finances were then in dire straits. To ensure enough working funds to support our activities we decided to visit each of the associate members (i.e. former members who had graduated but wished to retain their relationship with the USC) found on the membership registry. I was made the new assistant secretary general after Soh’s departure. It was a great source of comfort to us that many associate members when visited in person responded positively with gifts of $50 to $100, a good sum in those days. Ong Bock Chuan took over as financial secretary not long after. He proved to be an indefatigable fundraiser-cum-recruiter so much so that he earned the nickname of ‘Reverend Ong’ from R. Joethy for his proselytising zeal. I recall visiting Dr Jerry Goh and Dr Tan Seng Huat, Hedwig Annuar and others whose names I have forgotten. A few subjected us to a lecture which we accepted as the price for their largesse. Dr Gopal Baratham, the son of the university’s vice chancellor, B.R. Sreenivasan, was especially supportive and often invited us to his home for tea or meals. We also called on Dato Lee Kong Chian at the Lee Foundation. He was a kind and delightful old man who received us graciously over tea and donated the generous sum of $200. In our youthful enthusiasm we even solicited donations from graduates at their government offices like Tan Peng Boo and caused them no undue embarrassment. Other well wishers included the leftwing lawyer, T.T. Rajah, who selflessly dedicated his life and legal practice to the pro bono representation of left-wing trade unions, students and political detainees for decades. His modest finances in those years did not stop him from giving generously to the USC. Later in life his practice benefited handsomely from the loyalty of his long time corporate client, Bank of China, after China opened up to capitalist development from 1982 onwards.
We went to Kuala Lumpur and solicited donations from Dr M.K. Rajakumar, Professor Syed Husin Ali, Dr Tan Chee Khoon and others including some not even connected to the club. I recall being invited to dinner at Dr Tan Chee Khoon’s palatial home. There was great camaraderie in spite of the gap in our ages. We knew then that we were not alone.
In 1967 the Singapore Registrar of Societies disallowed the associate membership category for former members of the USC who had graduated. This decision was politically motivated as many other better endowed student bodies as well as educational institutions have their alumni to draw on their support, morally and materially.
Launch of Siaran Kelab Sosialis
With our financial lifeline now secured, the next priority was to launch a house organ to replace the banned Fajar. Since we did not have any permit for printing and sale to the public, we did an in-house job with a cyclostyled publication that was circulated only on the campus, fraternal organisations and associate members. We called it Siaran Kelab Sosialis and appended at the bottom a couplet from Omar Khayyam to remind readers of Fajar. Dr Rajakumar commented later that it would have been better if we had updated the couplet with a verse from a poem penned by Hedwig Aroozoo on ‘The East is Red’. Some of the articles in Siaran were written by me partly to ensure its timely publication. I tried hard to encourage other members to contribute but met with limited success. The lead articles I wrote commented on various issues of the day from ‘A Critique of Dr Goh Keng Swee’s Budget’ to a declaration of support for the Barisan candidate Ong Chong Sam in the Hong Lim by-election where he stood against K.C. Lee of the PAP. We called on Ong Eng Guan to throw his support behind the left and though he responded positively the PAP still won in 1964. I also contributed at times to USSU’s Undergrad.
We managed to publish an average of three to four issues of Siaran a year from 1964 to 1966 as it was crucial to publicise the USC’s position on many issues of the day and to disseminate socialist theory. An average of three hundred copies per issue were produced and distributed by hand to save postage. In spite of its limited circulation on campus only and its humble quality I understand that Siaran was forced to cease publication in 1968 after the university’s administration insisted that the USC had to apply for a permit if it wished to continue. Step-by-step the noose was tightening.
Lee Kuan Yew was a regular speaker at the campus in the 1960s. I can recall two incidents in 1963. At one of his addresses organised by USSU to a large audience of students he alleged that the USC was an ‘adult agitprop’ run by adults from London. (Though no names were mentioned it was clear to us that he referred to John Eber who was in exile in London). R. Joethy shouted from the back of the Students’ Union Hall where the talk was held ‘bluff, bluff’. To which Lee replied ‘Bluff? Well we will produce the documents to substantiate what I said. It will involve closing down a source but so be it’. The whole exchange was reported in The Straits Times the next day and commented upon in Siaran Kelab Sosialis, vol. II no. 1, in 1964.
On another occasion of Lee’s visit to the campus, Ong Bock Chuan decided to present him with a copy of the first issue of the new USC’s organ, Siaran. Lee commented: ‘Oh you are still kicking! How many members do you have?’ To which R. Joethy standing behind shouted: ‘Three Hundred!’ (Lee had in one of his addresses earlier claimed that the CPM had only three hundred members in Singapore).
Though the left in Malaya including Singapore opposed ‘Malaysia’ from its very inception (at a speech given by the Tungku to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in May 1961) and so did Sukarno when he launched the ‘Crush Malaysia’ campaign in 1963, the USC was critical of the Indonesian violation of our national integrity after the landing of Indonesian paratroopers and volunteers on the mainland and in Singapore in 1964 (Siaran, vol. II, no. 3). The USC proposed that a better alternative to a military resolution of the conflict, which would only serve the interests of Western imperialism, was to realign our foreign relations to that of the Afro–Asian countries’ policy of non-alignment with either East or West. The isolation of Malaysia in the United Nations due to its clear Western alignment compared to the extensive support among Third World countries enjoyed by Indonesia under Sukarno, a founder member of the historic Bandung Conference in 1955, was visible to many observers. (This experience helped shift Malaysia’s foreign policy from pro-West to non-alignment after Tun Razak became the prime minister in 1969).
The university’s vice chancellor, B.R. Sreenivasan, was a great champion of academic autonomy and freedom and regarded the Free University of Berlin as a prime example. After he was forced to step down by the PAP government in their attempts to control the universities, Joethy and I visited him at home. He was a visibly depressed and disillusioned man, who wept as he discussed with us his past dreams and hopes. Unfortunately his vision of the university did not coincide with the PAP’s. I did not see him again after his resignation.
In the struggle for university autonomy against impending government encroachments we decided that the best vehicle through which to lead the struggle would be the USSU more than the USC. A separate group of USC members and sympathisers led by James Evatt Wee, a tall, one-eyed charismatic man with indefatigable energy, planned and successfully captured several seats on USSU’s council over the next several years. Many of the USSU council meetings dragged on for hours late into the night as there was stiff opposition from right-wing students who for different reasons were from different camps than the students who subsequently formed the DSC. Many were from Malaysia. The struggle for university autonomy and academic freedom engulfed the undergraduate population for many years. It was a losing battle as the victorious PAP state expanded its control over the higher institutions of learning, step-by-step. It reached a crescendo in late 1966 when over a thousand students from the University of Singapore marched in protest and the government took direct punitive action against the undergraduates for the first time through the expulsion of three Malaysian student leaders.
The closest I ever got to USSU was to serve on the editorial board of its organ, Undergrad, where I contributed some articles. I was never attracted to the rough and tumble of student union’s politics but preferred to stay within the camaraderie of the far smaller and cause-oriented USC. I was more comfortable with backroom writing than frontline debate at large meetings though I did chair many of USC’s forums and talks.
Given the the shortage of sympathetic alumni members in Singapore after Operation Cold Store we often went to Kuala Lumpur to enjoy the hospitality and company of associate members and other like-minded friends. As we had plans to commemorate the USC’s tenth anniversary in February 1964 I spent hours interviewing Dr M.K. Rajakumar, who was practicing medicine in Klang and was chairman of the Labour Party in Selangor. It is my deep regret that I have lost all the notes I made from his generous recollection of those early years of the USC. Together with Dr Poh Soo Kai, who was then detained in Singapore under Operation Cold Store, they were the key drivers in those formative years even though the Fajar editorial board was extended to include other members like James Puthucheary and Dr Wang Gungwu who are better known in the public eye.
Three of the USC’s alumni, James Puthucheary, Sydney Woodhull and Lim Shee Ping, were among the first of those detained in Operation Cold Store to capitulate and sign personal renunciations of their political beliefs as the price of their freedom barely a year later. It was a low point for those of us still active in the USC as they carried the opprobrium of being the first to break ranks and as unity was vital for the survival of those detained. (The slate was more than wiped clean by the subsequent principled resistance of other USC alumni like Poh Soo Kai and Lim Hock Siew for nearly two decades). I had never met either of the two doctors until their release from detention in 1975 (Dr Poh’s first release) and in 1982 (Dr Lim’s). However I met both their wives, Beatrice and Grace, in 1963 when we invited them for dinner. I asked Beatrice rather naively if the little boy with her was their only child? She replied with a laugh, ‘There was no time for more!’ We saw Grace Poh at her Amber Road flat many times in subsequent months. We all found her to be a vivacious and warm person who was 100 per cent behind her detained husband. We sent through them books that included Monthly Review classics which were still allowed in those days. In this manner we were able to provide a modicum of moral support as well as obtain snippets of news about our detained alumni members.
Sometime in 1966 several of us attended the court hearing on the libel suit filed by T.T. Rajah against The Straits Times over their report on Lim Chin Siong’s attempted suicide in Changi Prison as a result of the alleged altercation between political detainees in RB (where Chin Siong was kept) and E Hall (where Dr Lim was). We went to give moral support to the detained members of our alumni appearing in court who included Dr Lim Hock Siew and Mahadeva, and to get personal glimpses of those who inspired our struggle. I recalled ASP Seah Wai Toh of the Internal Security Department staring at us in the courtroom.
I met James Puthucheary not long after he became a senior partner at the law firm of Skrine & Co. in Kuala Lumpur. He held great respect for Lee Kuan Yew whom he regarded as one of the few men and political leaders in history who had visionary foresight. He was resigned to the defeat of the left even though at that time the ground support was still strong. He also held high personal regard for Lim Chin Siong. I also met Sydney Woodhull on another occasion in Kuala Lumpur but he was cold and indifferent. While James appeared to have come to terms with his situation in life, Woodhull did not. In his unpublished memoirs completed years later, Woodhull maintained his integrity and had no regrets for his past activities.
USC Library and Fajar
During Operation Cold Store in February 1963 the USC’s library of books on socialist theory and other political and economic issues, carefully amassed from donations and purchases over the years, was kept in safe custody by Abdullah Majid in the home of a Singapore friend of his. He contacted us to return the books in 1963. We went to collect this precious heritage and met a short, stocky Malay of light complexion and short curly hair in Pasir Panjang. I visited Dollah as he was known twice in later years in Kuala Lumpur
before he became involved with the Tun Razak government.
Ideological education is central to any left organisation. As socialists have a clear world outlook, a well-stocked library was critical to help raise our members’ ideological standards in order to understand human society and change it for the better. The books were well used and some provided the basis for study sessions among members. I had to house the library somehow in my Dunearn Road Hostel room as the USC by 1963 no longer had any communal living quarters for its leading activists which also doubled up as the club house in earlier years when the triumvirate of Tan Jing Quee, R. Joethy and Wong Kum Poh held the reins. Though a communal ‘Club House’ was revived in 1966 by leading club officials like Peter Yip and Chan Fee Hon, among others, due to lack of proper storage, the library was gradually lost over subsequent years with changes in elected
officials and graduation.
The most priceless heritage that I was given to keep in safe custody was the one and only hardbound edition of the black Fajar editions from its first issue in 1954 (with the historic editorial ‘Aggression in Asia’ that resulted in the famous sedition trial) until the late 1950s when its masthead was changed to red, and a softbound copy of the red Fajar editions of later years. Together they provide the repository of the USC’s history over the first ten years of its existence from 1953 to 1962, a historical record of the political events of that formative decade and the USC’s position. Fajar was banned during Operation Cold Store in February 1963.
After the separation of Singapore from Malaysia in August 1965 we expected state harassment or punitive actions against the USC. James Evatt Wee, another leading USC official volunteered to safeguard the two priceless bound sets of Fajar in the underground storage room he claimed to have built in the spacious garden of his family home on Dalkieth Road. I gave them to him for safekeeping but learnt subsequently that he loaned them out to others. They are now irretrievably lost. The only Fajar editions left are under restricted circulation (being a ‘banned’ publication) at the National and University Libraries available only to registered scholars.
Formation of Democratic Socialist Club
Every society or club has the right to accept or reject new membership applications based on its declared goals and programme. As the USC was founded on the twin pillars of struggle for freedom from British colonial rule and to realise the socialist vision of human society, the leadership was morally obliged to defend the organisation’s integrity based on the glorious tradition of its first ten years (1953–1962).
The leadership of the ruling PAP has, in the past, highlighted its concerns over the risk of the party being hijacked by others who do not share their declared goals and values. Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s was at the political crossroads. Society was deeply divided between those who supported the ruling PAP leadership’s plan for independence through merger with Malaysia based on terms proposed by the Alliance government of Malaya and others who opposed joining Malaysia on the terms offered to Singapore. Malaysia itself was a concept initiated by the British as part of their colonial exit strategy and resembled a neocolonial scheme to retain imperial influence over the Federation of Malaya, Singapore plus the North Borneo territories.
The USC was among the first of many organisations in (and other future component states of Malaysia) to oppose the terms of participation in Malaysia. Its anti-Malaysia position was subsequently validated by the departure of Singapore in August 1965 barely two years after its entry into Malaysia. Early in 1964 certain undergraduates with clear affinities to the ruling PAP’s leadership made known their interests to join the USC. We decided to stonewall them. The USC has always tolerated different variants of the socialist vision reflective of the broader historical international movement itself. Individuals like Loke Yat Kuen with known differences with the USC’s leadership’s position on both Malaysia and socialism were allowed to remain as members and voice alternate views. We were invited to tea at Loke Yat Ken’s home with leading PAP members like Wong Lin Ken and Patmanaban Selvudurai who challenged our positions on Malaysia. Not long after I, as the secretary general of the club, was presented with a mass petition signed by scores of students who demanded admission to the club. The presenter was Goh Kean Chee, son of the defence minister, Dr Goh Keng Swee, and many of his co-petitioners were his classmates from Raffles Institution. He himself was a non-graduating student at the University of Singapore, whose academic term started in May, as he left not long after to continue his undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics in September. Perhaps he thought he could do to us in the USC what his father did earlier when he ousted John Eber and company from the Malayan Forum in London. We were not even accorded the courtesy of a response to their petition. The day after I received it there was a press statement prominently published in The Straits Times and other Singapore newspapers that announced the formation of the Democratic Socialist Club (DSC). (It is interesting to note that both past and future press statements of the USC seldom saw the light of day in The Straits Times).
Shortly after its formation the DSC was graced by Lee Kuan Yew who spoke on ‘Problems facing Democratic Socialists’ after having earlier rejected the invitations of both the USC as well as USSU to address the undergraduate (Siaran Kelab Sosialis, vol. 2 no. 3, November 1964). The DSC became the vehicle through which PAP ministers came to the campus with predictable regularity to address the undergraduates. Even member parties of the PAP’s ‘Malaysian Solidarity Convention’ were invited as the DSC became to all intents and purpose the undergraduate proxy for the PAP and its campaign of ‘Malaysia for Malaysians’. The inaugural issue of the DSC’s organ Demos attempted to define their version of democratic socialism as a ‘welfare State, a means to a more just and equal society’. Another article described democratic socialism as a ‘sentiment and a good rallying cry’. A third claimed their role was to produce ‘nationalistic liberals to ensure the survival of the nation’ (Siaran Kelab Sosialis, 1965).
One consequence of the DSC’s formation was the USC lost its international affiliation with the International Union of Socialist Youth which transferred all its subsequent invitations to its meetings to the Peoples’ Association who expectedly delegated it to the DSC. IUSY’s decision was opportunistic as they repudiated all their past relationships with the USC without reason or principle. I had met Sture Ericson, the IUSY secretary general on his last visit to Singapore in 1963, and found him to be a social democrat at best without any ‘fire in his belly’. Unlike my predecessors who regularly attended various international youth and student conferences worldwide we were inactive on the international front. I only recall once engaging a group of American college students in 1964 or 1965. Their visit to Singapore was coordinated by USSU. They had specifically requested for a meeting with us and wanted to know in detail our views on Vietnam and other international issues. They thought that China was the model society we looked towards but I told them that socialist experiments in smaller countries like Cuba and Vietnam were more relevant to us. Though the Vietnam War and civil rights struggle were then the cause célèbre on American campuses they seem to occupy a lower priority among these visitors.
Dr Koh Tai Ann, a former president of the DSC in the mid 1960s, recalled in a recent issue of the Singapore publication Tangent that the USC in her days was relatively inactive and ran by middle class undergraduates like Raymond Ong and Chan Kian Hin. She further claimed the DSC was formed as an alternative to the USC which she alleged to be ‘pro-communist and totalitarian’ but offered no details to support her contention. Contrary to Dr Koh’s allegations, the USC embraced and accommodated members with different socialist tendencies throughout its history. In my time well known dissenters like Loke Yat Kuen and Lee Chee Leong, close friends of the DSC’s key founders, were allowed to retain their membership and freely articulated their views at meetings which were open to all members and friends and mostly held on campus. Our organ, Siaran Kelab Sosialis, published articles that differed from the USC’s position. The central working committee was elected openly by members at annual general meetings. Unlike others we were not organised on Leninist principles where only the cadres were able to elect the central committee who in turn appointed the cadres.
Though more than forty years have lapsed, my recollection of my undergraduate years from 1963–1966 was that the USC was at the height of its activities and membership strength throughout these years until its final suppression by the state in 1971. Students, especially freshmen, continued to seek out the USC whose leaders were easy to identify from various campus functions. Being novices to public relations and campaign marketing we did not consciously target new students or any specific group or background for recruitment. It was our observation that those who sought to join the USC had already developed socialist inclinations prior to their campus enrolment. We organised annual programmes of political forums and talks by speakers from various political organisations and shades as well as by individual academics and other professionals. In those days it was unnecessary to seek any prior approval from the university administration. All that was required was to book the lecture theatre or the students’ union building hall. Members of the public as well as students were allowed to attend freely without any registration.
Being in Malaysia, we regularly invited leaders of Malaysian political parties including Dr Tan Chee Khoon and V. David of the Malayan Labour Party, Dr Ong Kee Hui and Stephen Yong of Sarawak United People’s Party, as well as Dr Lee Siew Choh of Barisan Sosialis. J.B. Jeyeratnam, then a Singapore district court judge was one of our speakers. Looking back, many of these political talks and forums were attended by capacity-filled crowds, reflective of the level of political interest among undergraduates in those days. As many as forty to fifty active members often attended our regular weekend study groups held at Runme Shaw’s Loyang bungalow. These were strictly internal affairs without any outside speakers involved. Though our total membership never reached one hundred and as a percentage of the undergraduate population was insignificant, it was of immense satisfaction that an endless stream of bright young English-educated undergraduates continued to join the USC in spite of our known disfavour with the ruling PAP and the existence of the DSC.
As far as I am aware, the majority of the USC’s membership was from middle class families even in the 1960s and mainly English educated. Though undergraduate admission was progressively expanded to include academically qualified students from families of humbler origins through government bursaries and scholarships, only a small percentage of secondary school graduates were successful in gaining admission to Singapore’s tertiary institutions. Only a handful of our members came from working class origins and they were not always the active ones.
Han Suyin and Alex Josey
In 1963 I chaired my first USC forum on ‘Foreign Aid vs. Foreign Trade’ where we invited Dr Han Suyin, Alex Josey and Athulah Mudali of the law faculty (who much later returned to his native Sri Lanka and rose to high position as minister of interior in the government). Alex Josey had been a regular financial donor and contributor to Fajar in its early years as he masqueraded as a ‘liberal’ journalist to camouflage his alleged links to British intelligence. In the heat of exchanges over the benefits and liabilities of foreign aid at the forum Han Suyin called him a ‘colonial bastard’. Alex Josey never appeared again at an USC event. He was later banned from entry into Malaysia.
The most popular speaker in those days was undoubtedly Han Suyin, the leading international spokesperson for the Chinese Revolution. (China in the 1960s was closed to foreign visitors and there was a general hunger for accurate information on Chinese developments and events as the Chinese social experiment to reconstruct a new egalitarian human society inspired worldwide audiences). She was an energetic and charismatic speaker who could speak for two hours without a break to capacity-filled theatres and hold her audience in rapt attention. Her last invitation by the USC to speak on ‘The Red Guards’ was in 1966 which coincided with a talk by Lee Kuan Yew to the DSC. As she was then living in Johor Bahru, she was stopped at the causeway and not allowed to enter Singapore and was ‘banned’ permanently.
The Vietnam War
Many of us came of age under the shadow of the Vietnam War. For some of us it was the defining event of our youth. Coming after the bloody massacre of over half a million Indonesians in the US-backed military coup in Indonesia and the virtual decimation of the PKI and its allies, the Vietnamese uprising led by the newly formed National Liberation Front in the south in 1962 validated the Chinese theory of ‘peoples’ war’ and of Mao’s view that ‘imperialism is a paper tiger’. In 1965 the military intervention of the Americans in the Vietnamese civil war precipitated worldwide popular protests and outcries. The Vietnamese were true masters of international solidarity work and public relations. Singapore and Malaya were no exceptions. The heroic sacrifices of countless humble and ill-equipped Vietnamese peasant fighters of both sexes and all ages against the strongest military power on earth gave tremendous inspiration to other liberation struggles all over the world. It dramatically reaffirmed the common enemy of US imperialism (supported and abetted by their local lackeys) faced by the poor and oppressed colonial peoples worldwide.
Ever since its founding years the USC has always maintained a close relationship with fraternal student bodies of other institutions of higher learning both in Singapore and peninsular Malaya. A Joint Activities Committee comprising three representatives of USC, Nantah Political Science Society and Singapore Polytechnic Political Society had existed since 1960 with the chair held on an annual rotational basis. This committee met on a regular basis to discuss and coordinate action on various common issues of the day. After the formation of Malaysia, the focus on anti-Malaysia campaigns was followed by other pressing issues, in particular the US war of aggression in Vietnam that started in earnest in 1965 with the large scale landing of US military forces in the south ostensibly in response to Ngo Dinh Diem’s call for aid to resist ‘Northern aggression’. The immense sufferings of the Vietnamese civilians aroused worldwide protests and support.
Since a growing number of publications were becoming available on the ‘indigenous’ origins of the revival of armed popular resistance in the south to the gross abuses of power by the US-imposed South Vietnamese regime of Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, it was not difficult for anyone interested to become well informed on the true nature of the Vietnamese resistance to US aggression south of the parallel in the 1960s. The Joint Activities Committee met and agreed to embark on an anti-Vietnam War campaign which was to climax in a students’ mass rally in front of the US embassy on Hill Street and the presentation of an anti-Vietnam War memorandum in addition to talks and forums and production of anti-war posters for distribution at public places. It took me a week to research and complete the 17-page long anti-Vietnam War memorandum that was signed by the three student bodies of the Joint Action Council. The memorandum gave a detailed insight into the history of Vietnamese resistance from Dien Bien Phu to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. It highlighted the use of napalm and agent orange, a biological weapon, on unarmed civilians by the US, the effects of which are still visible today in the deformed children of Vietnamese peasants exposed to it forty years ago. At the meeting held to approve the document the Nantah representatives commented that the closing resolutions did not condemn US imperialist aggression severely enough! We collectively reworded the resolutions with the appropriate phrases.
Having no resources for printing and given the primitive state of copying in those days which required laborious manual typing and cutting of stencils, and without any office, we found support from the Singapore Commercial Houses and Factory Employees’ Union, the successor to the deregistered General Employees’ Union. At its premises on Wayang Street, their staff laboured through the night to type and print for us one thousand copies of the long memorandum. Their solidarity was also expressed in their refusal to accept any monetary compensation for the use of their modest resources but only to retain one hundred copies for their members’ education. The memorandum was later translated into Mandarin and Malay by fraternal left organisations and distributed across Malaya. Once again the USC’s image was projected far beyond the campus.
The anti-war mass rally at the US embassy did not materialise. The Nantah students, after suffering countless rounds of arrests, expulsions and deportations since 1963, voted against joining the rally as they believed it would provoke further repression. As the USC and Polytechnic Political Society did not have enough members to sustain a mass rally of meaningful size, it was decided only to present the memorandum to the US ambassador. It was an anti-climax and a profound disappointment to us. The USC has always acted in solidarity with the struggles of oppressed colonial peoples consistent with the international character of socialism but were let down by our militant comrades in Nantah.
Under the subsequent leadership in the period from 1966 to 1968 the USC resumed its active participation with other left organisations in anti-Vietnam War campaign as the Americans expanded the war to the north with the bombings of Hanoi and Haiphong. An innovative photographic exhibition of US War atrocities against civilians in Vietnam was organised by Abdul Razak and Peter Yip in 1966 on campus and had a major impact. Chan Fee Hon, the USC’s secretary general and the most promising of the new leadership, served as a member of the ‘Aid Vietnam Committee’ chaired by Dr Lee Siew Choh in 1967. This link was considered significant enough to merit comment by Dr Goh Keng Swee in an address to the DSC in 1966. (It was at an anti-Vietnam War demonstration in 1967 on the occasion of US President Johnson’s visit, that Chia Thye Poh, a Barisan Sosialis member of parliament, was arrested and detained subsequently for a record 27 years).
Overtures from Kuala Lumpur
A year or so after Singapore entered Malaysia we received an invitation to visit the Singapore branch of the Malaysian Ministry of External Affairs. An affable and charming Harun bin Ibrahim met us and told us that the central government did not hold anything against the USC or any of our members but was interested in establishing a dialogue with us on ‘national issues’. Given the long hostility of the Alliance government to leftwing movements in peninsular Malaya it was an interesting turn of events for us. It proved to be an opportune change in circumstances and dispelled the PAP myth that the USC was part of the communist united front in Singapore. It also gave the USC a counterweight to the patronage endowed by the PAP on the DSC. There was an occasion when a Nantah student was denied permission by Singapore to leave for graduate studies in the Netherlands on ‘security grounds’. With the help of Harun, the federal government overruled the state government and the student was given a passport to travel abroad. Ghazalie Shafie, permanent secretary for external affairs, was the first senior Malaysian official to address a USC event. This was unprecedented in the club’s history. Over coffee after his talk, Ghazalie Shafie was friendly but avoided commitment when we raised the issue of reviving Fajar, banned in 1963 under Operation Cold Store. Though we changed the proposed publication to Bersatu the permit was never issued.
Tun Abdul Razak, the deputy prime minister of Malaysia, came to speak on the campus. It was mutually agreed that it was more appropriate for him to address a function organised by the University of Singapore Students’ Union than the politically partisan USC, as USSU was then controlled by members of the USC. At a reception hosted by Tun Razak on his visit, several academics including the PAP member Dr Chiang Hai Ding, a lecturer in the history department, and our entire CWC were invited. I came to know his political secretary, Abdullah Ahmad, a jovial and charming man.
At another talk organised by USSU, Dr Mahathir Mohamad was invited. He was then still in political limbo having fallen out with Tungku Abdul Rahman. Mahathir spoke on the ‘Special Rights of the Malays’ as they were a people disenfranchised in their own country. I remembered the heated response from Tommy Koh who was unusually emotional. He demanded: ‘How long does it take for an immigrant people to call a country its own?’
Tun Tan Siew Sin, the federal minister of finance, also came to address the annual dinner of the University of Singapore Economics Society in 1965 on the topical issue of the day ‘Common Market with Malaysia?’ I was concurrently president of both the USC and the Economics Society, having been popularly elected at the annual general meeting of the latter by a membership distinct and separate from the USC. At his address Tan Siew Sin lambasted the PAP for the roadblocks it created over Singapore’s entry into the Malaysian common market that was expected to usher in the benefits of joining Malaysia. After his talk I was requested to introduce him to each of the fifteen tables of guests present. I thought he was on an election campaign. Not long after I was invited to see him at his office in Kuala Lumpur prior to my African trip. He told me that the central government held nothing against the USC or any of its members. He also asked me, ‘Do you not think that Dr Goh Keng Swee will make a good finance minister of Malaysia?’
The economics department in those years had a strong liberal tradition unlike the history department which was a PAP stronghold with Dr Wong Lin Ken and Chiang Hai Ding. Economics faculty members with known leftwing views included Dr John Purcal who in 1962 had delivered a series of three lectures on political economy to USC members, and Dr Donald Blake who specialised in labour economics and Indonesia. John Purcal was born of humble parentage on a Malayan rubber plantation and worked his way through higher education, and taught at St Andrew’s for a while. He later graduated from the University of Hull in England before pursuing graduate studies in Calgary, Canada. John told me that in his youth he often did not have more than ten cents in his pocket. In Britain he joined the Labour Party and came to know Hugh Gaitskell. When the colonial government arrested many left trade unionists, students and leaders in 1957, he protested to Gaitskell but was told that the ‘PAP leader’ backed the arrests. John promptly relayed this news back to his friends in Malaya and earned the enmity of Lee Kuan Yew. In one of Lee’s addresses on campus in 1966 or 1967 he commented, ‘the Barisan members are now smashing traffic lights and painting graffiti, but I will not be surprised if the Communists still retained their old faithful among the University Socialists who have become flabby with age and are lying low’. The rising frequency of visits to the University of Singapore by Malaysian ministers drew comment from Lee Kuan Yew himself, who remarked that the university had become the latest ‘favourite’ of the federal government who seemed to have fallen in love with the undergraduates.
A forty-member strong delegation of the USC was invited on a Malaysian government sponsored coach tour of the state capitals of peninsular Malaysia. At every city they were received as ‘state guests’ and hosted to functions in their honour by the state’s menteri besar. In Kuala Lumpur their official host was Tun Abdul Razak himself.
Separately Lim Teck Hui, Ong Bock Chuan and I participated in a Malaysian students’ mission with representatives from other institutions of higher learning in peninsular Malaysia on a six-week long tour of Africa and Sri Lanka. After Egypt we split into two groups, with Tech Hui and Bock Chuna visiting East Africa while I went to West Africa. I recalled visiting Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal where we met with their respective students’ unions. It was the Arab student leaders who impressed me most as Egypt was then riding the crest of Arab nationalism under Nasser. In Ghana led by another legendary anti-colonial leader, Nkrumah, African nationalism was highly visible. Postcolonial Africa was full of hope and promise. The cities were busy but not congested and it was safe to move around, day or night. There were hardly any squatters or slums or beggars visible. It was at our last stop in Dakar that we learnt from the Senegalese minister of education whom we met of the fateful news that Singapore had separated from Malaysia!
If separation had not occurred, and Singapore had remained within Malaysia, one may well speculate on what the turn of political events may have been within Singapore. We knew that the federal government was seriously contemplating the release of key leaders of the left detained under Operation Cold Store. Their intelligence presumably long confirmed that many who were incarcerated on 2 February 1963 and after were never members of the Communist Party of Malaya or any of its satellite organisations. As the British colonial archives amply documented it was the PAP leadership that pressed for the arrests of many of those detained and wanted even more.
Looking back, was it political opportunism or political strategy that motivated us to respond positively to the overtures of the Malaysian government in the mid 1960s? It was probably a mixture of both. Notwithstanding Sukarno’s ‘Crush Malaysia’ campaign, Malaysia had become a fait accompli. The left in Singapore was in a political quagmire and someone had to break the impasse. In our view the release of the political detainees would have made a crucial difference. (Though Dr Lee Siew Choh was upset over our move I learnt many years later that the detained leadership in Changi Prison generally approved of our strategy towards a tacit understanding with Kuala Lumpur).
Struggle in the Streets
In May 1966 the Chinese Communist Party announced its famous Sixteen Points Resolution that launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the first time in history where a ruling party encouraged its citizens that ‘to rebel is right’. Though the Chinese leadership made it clear that the Cultural Revolution was an internal affair to resolve Chinese issues and based on specific Chinese conditions, its influence soon spread worldwide to all fraternal left movements including Singapore and Malaysia. The USC itself was only marginally affected though we avidly read every issue of new Chinese theoretical publications that became available and were ideologically up-to-date. However, other left organisations in Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere developed a renewed militancy characteristic of the Cultural Revolution.
Two events within the Barisan, the leading left organisation in Singapore, merit comment. First, an ideological dispute occurred between Chia Thye Poh and Dr Lee Siew Choh that ended in the ‘disgraceful’ public apology extracted by the latter from the former as the price of party unity. It certainly did not help to revive public confidence and respect. Though I was approached by some Chinese-educated members in the USC to mediate in the intraparty dispute I did not do so as I was not prepared to join the Barisan. Having dealt with Dr Lee Siew Choh several times I did not respect his leadership. He had become overconfident after his earlier return from the ‘Ban the Bomb’ peace conference in Tokyo where his speech in praise of China developing its own atomic bomb was broadcasted by Radio Peking. Second, in 1966 partly as a result of growing restrictions in the Singapore parliament (for example, the maximum time any member of parliament was allowed to speak was limited to 45 minutes) and the infrequency of parliamentary sessions (in 1965 it met only twice) and partly due to events in China, the Barisan decided to withdraw its members from parliament and took its struggle to the streets. If nothing else this radical change of policy was responsible for its subsequent decline and demise as a major political force in Singapore and resulted in PAP monopoly of parliament for two decades or more. At a speech to undergraduates in the University of Singapore in 1966, minister of defence, Dr Goh Keng Swee commented that the Barisan organ with a paid subscription of 40,000 was a very influential publication since in general the readership would be significantly higher.
The Chinese-Educated Stream
Long the handicapped and underprivileged members of Singapore society under British colonial rule, the graduates of Chinese high schools started to enter the University of Singapore after it opened its doors to them through the introduction of a two-year bilingual pre-university course in 1961 or 1962. Whatever their individual political persuasions may have been, a small but steady number of them joined the USC. Individually the Chinese-educated had a tendency to be effacing but collectively they proved to be loyal and reliable supporters of the USC through both high and low tides. The majority seldom played any leading roles with the exception of the few individuals like Chow Sing Yau, Choo Si Sen, Koh Siong, Chng Hoo Song and Ngoh Teck Nam during my time. The real live wires like Lim Shee Ping and Wong Kum Poh came earlier. I was particularly drawn to the latter as we shared a common interest in Marxian economics but he left in 1964 for graduate studies in Birmingham and became an econometrician whose quantitative analytical models provided neat solutions to the complex socioeconomic
problems facing human societies.
One of the outstanding characteristics of the Chinese-educated left was their support for and proficiency in Malay as the national language of a united Malaya. Perhaps handicapped by their lack of fluency in the language of the colonial masters, they embraced Malay with characteristic dedication and tenacity. Individuals like Wong Kum Poh and Tang Liang Hong were effectively trilingual regardless of any allegations of Chinese chauvinism levelled at the Chinese-educated many years later.
Notwithstanding the sharing of a common ideology in Marxist socialism, there were some distinct and discernible cultural differences between the Chinese-educated and English-educated members of the USC. The former tended to be somewhat puritanical in lifestyle unlike the English-educated. At occasional USC’s weekend gatherings in Loyang, when the day’s political debates ended with less rigorous social activities like dances in the evenings, the Chinese-educated core would retreat into a silent huddle and view with clear disdain their less disciplined comrades’ frolics. From these little incidents I better understood my Chinese-educated friends’ world outlook. Life to them was black or white, good or evil. Unlike the English-educated there were no shades of grey in between. It was for many their strength but also their weakness. For us the Chinese Revolution was never the beginning or the end in our quest for a just and equal human society free from the oppression of elite rule, foreign or local. It was only the second milestone after the Bolshevik Revolution in the dialectics of global change.
Another distinction between the Chinese and English-educated left was our intellectual diet. Apart from Marxist classics and Mao’s thoughts that were digested by all, we went beyond to British Marxists like Maurice Dobbs and Christopher Caudwell. The eternal spring from which we drank was the Monthly Review school founded by Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman. They were the best in the application of Marxist analytical principles to modern society in the era of monopoly finance capital and imperialism.
The university library had an excellent current periodicals section in those days and it was there that we discovered Monthly Review, a monthly journal of socialist thought. Even Peking Review was freely available, a reflection of the academic freedom in our time. Marxist classics were openly on sale at the university book store in Orchard Road. Later when Donald Moore Galleries opened on Clemenceau Avenue, it was always well stocked with the latest Chinese theoretical publications in English. In this manner we were able to keep abreast of both the Sino–Soviet ideological debate but also the twists and turns of the Chinese Cultural Revolution as it unfolded from 1965.
Due to my own language handicaps I was unable to relate personally with our counterparts at Nantah and Ngee Ann College, both of whose struggles the USC supported throughout the years. My memories of Nantah in the early 1960s when we went there for meetings was that it was like a little ‘Yen’ an’ when the students were on strike. My respect for the Chinese-educated sacrifices and stoicism rose exponentially to the endless waves of mass arrests and expulsions that they were periodically subjected to. Later Ngee Ann College emerged as a new centre of Chinese-educated student militancy and suffered the same consequences as befell Nantah. In 1965 I was invited to address a meeting of their students prior to some strike they were planning. In October 1966 over 30 members of the USC, led by the president Abdul Razak, joined in their demonstration in front of City Hall to support their protest against the Thong Saw Pak report. It was roughly broken up by the riot squad. Every member of the USC who participated was individually identified in the photographs taken by the ISD. Together with 67 students from Nantah, four student leaders from the University of Singapore were deported, including Abdul Razak and Peter Yip (then secretary general) but the order was retracted for Indonesian-born Chan Kian Hin through the intervention of his uncle, Chan Chin Bock, a senior official at the EDB.
The real reason behind such drastic action was the agitation led by the Students’ National Action Front to register a National Union of Singapore students for the four tertiary institutions, to revive Nantah Students’ Union which was deregistered earlier and to campaign against the suitability certificates to screen the admission of students into tertiary institutions based on their political views. The deportation of the Malaysian student leaders involved was intended to discourage Singapore students from further involvement in militant union activities.
The Malays were always a tiny minority on the campus of the University of Singapore in contrast to other minorities like the Indians. Their membership of the USC reflected their underrepresentation in the undergraduate population. Notwithstanding their numerical insignificance the USC has always supported Malay as the national language of a united, free and independent Malaya including Singapore. The USC also attracted prominent Malay intellectuals to its leadership from Abdullah Majid in its early days to Kassim Ahmad who subsequently founded the Pemuda Sosialis Malaya in London in the mid 1960s. They developed their own caucus of members with a sprinkling from the USC but went well beyond what the latter ever aspired to achieve.
I came to know and like the few prominent Malay activists in the USC of my times. Zakaria Omar was an older undergraduate who had been a schoolteacher prior to his campus enrolment. He was also an active member of the Singapore Partai Rakyat with Dr Abu Bakar. I can still recall the wonderful Malay meals we had in his kampong home in Geylang Serai during Hari Raya. Personal tragedy later befell Zakaria Omar after he married the American sociologist, Dr Shirle Gordon, who headed the Malaysian Sociological Research Institute and was exposed by Lee Kuan Yew as ‘their agent´ who married her, an alleged CIA agent under ‘instruction’ according to a report in The Straits Times. Dr Shirle Gordon herself was subsequently banned from Singapore and moved to Kuala Lumpur where she continued to run the MSRI for many decades. She had been a regular supporter of the USC in more ways than one and provided an important intellectual bridge to our understanding of Malay and Islamic society. I often visited her at her office in Oxley Road. Her last appearance at a USC event was in conjunction with the seminar on communalism and national unity. Subsequently all the papers presented there were published in Intisari.
Abdul Razak Ahmad was recruited by me into the USC
when he was a law undergraduate and resident of Raffles Hall. Razak became the most active Malay member of the USC of my times and gained the distinction of being expelled from Singapore with Peter Yip, Gurdial Singh and Chan Kian Hin (later reversed) as a consequence of their involvement in the Students National Action Front’s protests against the introduction of ‘suitability certificates’ for undergraduate admission in 1966. The suitability certificate was designed to screen students’ admission to Singapore institutions of higher learning based not on their academic qualifications but on their political views. Though neither Razak nor Peter Yip were on the Students’ National Action Front’s twelve-member council, they were targeted being the two leading UCS officials who were Malaysians. After graduation and in spite of his legal practice in Johor Bahru, Abdul Razak continued with his lifelong dedication to struggling for the poor and oppressed in Malaysia through various leadership positions in the Malaysian Partai Rakyat and later Parti Keadilan Rakyat, in spite of his asthmatic condition. Like Peter Yip, he remain banned from entering Singapore. He died tragically last year as a result of long years of poor health, work and stress, and medical negligence.
The Malaysian years of the USC (1963–1965) were also the years when the USC was at its peak in terms of support among the Malay undergraduate students. There was only one Malay student who was a member of the DSC probably because of personal ties with the graduates of Raffles Institution who were all classmates of Goh Kian Chee and became founding members of the DSC. (Ironically the father of this Malay
undergraduate was arrested in 1963 for pro-Indonesian activities during Konfrontasi). There were many other Malay members of USC who later became prominent personalities in various walks of life in Malaysia. They included Professor Mohd Haji Salleh, a leading poet and writer, the late Mohkthar Abdullah who became solicitor general, Sanusi Osman who became secretary general of Partai Rakyat, and Halim Omar a professor at one of the Malaysian universities. Even after separation and independence in August 1965, students from across the causeway were freely allowed to join and hold office in the USC and in this respect maintained a symbolic unity of the two territories.
The vibrant multiracial and multicultural character of the USC’s membership was in the best traditions of the Malayan English-educated left. In some ways the USC was the heir apparent of the defunct Malayan Democratic Union and had the leadership potential for guiding a revival of the left across racial divide in a post-Emergency independent Malaya. The failure to realise the promise was due to the complexity of communal factors that shaped subsequent political events and deserve separate analysis and narration elsewhere.
Seminar on ‘Communalism and National Unity’ in 1966
My last act in the USC was to conceptualise and plan the two-day seminar on ‘Communalism and National Unity’ which was implemented and chaired by the new leadership of Abdul Razak, Peter Yip and Chan Fee Hon as I graduated in May 1966. However, I remained on Bukit Timah campus until the end of 1968 as I worked at the Economics Research Centre and later at the economics department.
The ‘national question’ has long challenged all progressive forces who sought to emancipate Malaya from British rule. The ‘divide and rule’ strategy of the British, honed during centuries of empire, left deep divides in postwar Malaya. A feudal Malay ruling elite with entrenched privileges buttressed by Malay peasant farms on Malay land was at one end of the social spectrum versus a restless and aggressive Chinese migrant population in squatter slums in urban centres at the other, with an Indian plantation working class in between. The founding declaration of the USC in February 1953 had declared: ‘Today a new danger threatens Malaya – Communalism’.
Singapore’s separation from Malaysia in August 1965 was in itself racially driven due to the challenge by a predominantly Chinese PAP-led Malaysian Solidarity Convention to the dominant UMNO-led Alliance that ruled Malaysia. PAP communal arithmetic based on its 40–40–20 formula had heightened racial tensions. Racial clashes in fact occurred in Singapore twice in July and September 1964. Political separation did not extinguish the dreams of either the PAP or the left on both sides of the causeway for a reunited Malaya at some future date.
It was opportune to plan and hold a seminar on the ‘national question’ and invite a wide range of distinguished academics and social activists to deliberate on the subject. From the left we had Kassim Ahmad, Syed Husin Ali, Dr Tan Chee Khoon and Dr Lee Siew Choh. The director of Malaysian Sociological Research Institute, Dr Shirle Gordon came while Professor Syed Hussein Alatas, Tommy Koh, and Dr Lee Soo Ann lent prestige to the event among other distinguished peers. Even Dr Mahathir, who was then in political wilderness after his fallout with the Tungku, came and presented a paper. So did Ahmad Mustapha, another associate member, who later held office in the Tun Razak administration. Three working sessions were chaired respectively by leading academics: Professor K.J. Ratnam, Professor Victor Fic and Dr Donald Blake.
Over a hundred undergraduates, graduates and faculty staff crammed into the congested conference room at the Students’ Union in testimony to the wide interest on the subject. The papers and proceedings were subsequently compiled and published in Intisari, the publication of Malaysian Sociological Research Institute. In spite of the importance of the topic and in-depth analyses of the issues the main dailies refused to report on any of the proceedings of the seminar, presumably because it was organised by the USC. Professor T.H. Elliott of the school of pharmacy in the University of Singapore, a known PAP member and campus spokesman, criticised the USC for inviting ‘foreigners’ to its seminar as Singapore had separated from Malaysia in September 1965. It would have been more productive for him to engage them in open discourse by attending the seminar himself as political separation itself did not resolve the threat of communalism. Contrary to being on the decline, the USC emerged once again as a catalyst to rally thought and debate on a crucial national issue among the academic and student communities across the causeway, in spite of political separation. If nothing else it reaffirmed that the best hopes and solution towards a reunited free and equal Malayan or Malaysian society was under the non-racial platform of class,
not communal, struggle.
Though the USC continued to survive under new leadership for five more years it did not see better days as students were generally intimidated by fear of new repression by the authorities. Malaysian students were barred from holding office in student bodies at Singapore’s tertiary institutions. The three-year duration of most undergraduate degree courses in arts and science faculties also meant the constant turnover of student activists, almost by design of the university administration.
Regardless of the circumstances of the day, so long as the USC existed it remained a magnet for the minority of English-educated students who thought beyond the ken and searched for deeper answers to the social ills and injustices of their times. Hence it was necessary for the monolithic state created under PAP rule to extinguish the USC as it finally did in 1971 under a technicality in the Societies’ Act. An issue of Undergrad that year carried a statement by the last central working committee on its decision not to comply with the Registrar of Societies’ demand that the USC submit its ‘Annual Returns’ and was consequently deregistered. The DSC with official patronage has continued till this day. The demise of the USC did not end student militancy among the English-educated undergraduates. A new generation of leaders arose in the mid seventies, names like Tan Wah Piow and Juliet Chin, some of whom were Christian social activists who like their more ideological peers in the USC forged close links with the workers in Singapore’s ‘pioneer industries’ and rose up together to challenge the dominance of the NTUC, the labour proxy of the PAP. By that time the independent labour movement, left or otherwise, had been smashed. On both the Chinese and English-educated campuses, however, new shoots began to sprout again. Some went far beyond the limits ever ventured by any of the USC leadership.
The Tower wants calm but the Wind will not subside.
It is now more than forty years since we graduated from the University of Singapore. Looking back on those years of youthful idealism we thought then that we were on the eve of the new socialist millennium which would occur within our lifetime. There were ample examples of socialism in practice around the world, in countries both big and small, even though there had been some disappointments and aberrations. The left failed in Singapore and Malaysia for many reasons, partly international but mainly internal, in spite of having been in struggle for nearly eight decades. This is neither the time nor the place to give informed comment and analysis. Suffice to say the USC was an integral part of this historic movement and its influence was far out of proportion to its numerical strength. We had a ‘sense of mission’ and were driven by a combination of patriotism and service to the people, not by self-interest.
Some of the comrades and fellow travellers who were with
me as undergraduates are no longer around. They include:
Chan Fee Hon: shortly after graduation in 1969 he moved to live and work in Hong Kong. He died of cancer in his early forties and is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. They have chosen to make Singapore their home in recent years.
Koh Siong: also died of cancer in his late forties. I have no details of his family.
Wong Kum Poh: taught at the economics department of the University of Singapore for several years after graduating with his PhD from the University of Birmingham. He died of heart problems in his early fifties and is survived by his wife and only son.
Raymond Ong: was an English teacher for many years at St Andrew’s Junior College and died aged fifty and is survived by his wife and two children.
Chan Kian Hin: who died in a tragic helicopter accident near Genting Highlands at the prime of his life in his thirties with his Filipino girlfriend and fellow USC Alumni, Ng Kwek Sin. His first wife and only daughter now live in Toronto.
Lim Teck Hui: died of heart problems in his mid fifties and is survived by his wife and three children.
James Evatt Wee: disappeared without trace in the 1980s
and is now rumoured to be living in the USA. He did not attend his father’s funeral when he died.
Abdul Razak Ahmad: died in Johor Bahru in 2008 and left behind his spouse, four children and grandchildren.