I would like to respond to your posting on ''the glaring omission'' which has been making the round in cyberspace.
I contacted Dr Lim Hock Siew sometime in 2002 or 2003. Unfortunately, he refused to be interviewed and gave me a tongue lashing instead, accusing SPH of being closely linked to the government.
Our research head Leong Ching also paid a visit to his clinic and spoke to him. I asked the former leftist whom I got Dr Lim's contact number from and who knew him very well to explain to Dr Lim that we did try to call him contrary to the claim making the round in cyberspace. Dr Lim admitted that he might have forgotten the call.
Note that although Dr Lim refused to be interviewed, we drew material from his oral history transcript lodged in the National Archives for the book.
Again with the help of our former leftist contacts, I called Dr Poh Soo Kai's home around that time and was told that he had emigrated to Canada. I understand he has been back in Singapore for the last year or so but we were not aware of it.
The project has been so long drawn out that even some interviewees who were invited for the launch forgot that we interviewed them. Janadas Devan forgot that he arranged for me to interview his mother. And he's a much younger man than Dr Lim.
My response :
1. Sonny Yap has now said that Dr Lim was indeed approached twice for Men In White. Dr Lim told me earlier he was never approached. This is obviously a case of "your-word-against-mine" which can go on indefinitely so I'll leave it at that.
2. But let's say we give Yap the benefit of the doubt that he is right. For a book that took 7 years and more than a million dollars (my estimate) to produce, isn't it imperative that the views of a founding PAP member who was detained for 19 years (2nd longest in Singapore's history) be accorded more than 2 attempts (one for interview and one for permission to publish his oral history) over 7 years? Moreover, the authors admitted to Straits Times that many former leftists may not have spoken up earlier. Shouldn't Yap not have attempted to approach Dr Lim again since that one previous call in 2002?
3. To imply that Dr Lim may have forgotten a call in 2002 or 2003 (7 years ago!) is a no-brainer.
4. Leong Weng Kam, the other author of Men In White, was spotted at the launch of poetry collection Our Thoughts Are Free in March this year where both Dr Lim Hock Siew and Dr Poh Soo Kai were present. No attempts were made by Leong to seek their views. (Yap responded over the phone to me that the book would have gone into print by that time).
5. Michael Fernandez, a former detainee and personal friend of Sonny Yap, was interviewed for Men In White and had attended its launch. After reading an advance copy, he wrote in an email to his friends that "the Feb. 1963 "Cold Store" arrests of more than 120 leaders of the leftwing, which practically decimated the effective opposition to the PAP was not given due historical evaluation."
I am not going to ask you to buy the book. It's your hard-earned money. You make your own call.