Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Men In White author responds to Martyn See's blog post

Sonny Yap, one of three authors credited in the publication of Men In White, The Untold Story of Singapore's Ruling Party has responded by email to my earlier blog post. We also briefly spoke on the phone. I reproduced his email in full.

Dear Martyn,

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.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiousity, did you read the book before you passed judgement?

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiousity, where in his posts did he "passed judgement"?

Anonymous said...

The national library is your friend.

Use it wisely.

Anonymous said...

"Just out of curiousity, did you read the book before you passed judgement?"

Do you need to taste shit before you are convinced that the shit sting ? Could you not smell that shit is smelly from your own intuitive and judgement ?

Why read a propaganda book and be brainwashed with one-sided partisan story. The fact that LKY endorsed the book and even proof-check it already tell that Shit do stink, so why need another judgment ? What's more, written by MIW's lackeys ? So incredibly Credible, is it ?

Anonymous said...

Mr LKY does not have many years to glorify/idolize himself, as well as to rewrite history, this book is just another attempt towards this goal. Expect more such attempts just before his death.
:)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't read the book even if you paid me.

Anonymous said...

ok, understand. I shall also go around slamming the book because of what I read on the Internet written by other people who have not read the book. No point reading it and forming my own opinion.

But wait, why is Fong Swee Suan supporting it? Aiya, they probably paid him off. I mean he's not the kind of person who is willing to stand by his principles, is he?

Anonymous said...

"But wait, why is Fong Swee Suan supporting it? Aiya, they probably paid him off. I mean he's not the kind of person who is willing to stand by his principles, is he?"

Simple. As long as he stay in Singapore, he realize that it is no point fighting for Singapore as he is already so old, and his families might be targetted by the PAP lackeys. All men to themselves.

Did you realize that those ex-politician who detest the old fart for injustice and mistreatment are those who migrated to other country ?

Those who stay behind act docile because they have no choice.

Don't be surprised majority of those family of ex-politicians who interview and gather with the old fart might be working for PAP. Notice that there is no background check on the family of those interviewed. It may shred some light.

Anonymous said...

Fong Swee Suan

"He retired on 1996 and continued on an arts research and got an MBA and a PhD degree from another university. He has three children, his eldest daughter, Xiu Min is an architect. His eldest son, Fang Yong Jin, is a mechanical engineer. His youngest son, Fang Yong Zheng, is an electrical engineer."
http://historyof07.blogspot.com/2007/08/fong-swee-suan.html

Read the above blog and see if Fong Swee Suan has a weak mind when he succumbed to admittance that he is a communist to save old fart's face. The reward ? High post for him.

The question to ask is if his son and daughter are now working in Singapore ? You see why play along with kangaroo now ?

Joe90 said...

Just out of curiosity, Anonymous @ 3:39 PM, why are you anonymous?

Secret Political Blog said...

"But wait, why is Fong Swee Suan supporting it? Aiya, they probably paid him off. I mean he's not the kind of person who is willing to stand by his principles, is he?"

You are so right. After the PAP launched their book and had a little gathering, I decided to check out the biographies of the so called leftists who returned. Here's what I found, you can go compare between the people who came and those who didn't and make a decision for yourself.

http://secretpoliticalblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/another-bit-of-story-pappy-and-barry.html

to Joe90 said...

Which Anonymous are you referring to? The first one? I suppose he's anonymous for the same reason you only refer to yourself as Joe90.

Anonymous said...

gentlemen, does this book really matter?? does history really matter when there are many pressing outstanding issues at hand? our housing prices are over the roof, everything is expensive and we dun have enough jobs to go round. i dun give a shit about the past. show me what you will do for the future. period. the rules of the game has changed. still use old tactics to play for wat??

Anonymous said...

^
surely, history teaches us nothing!

Anonymous said...

the first anonymous poster makes a nice and cute attempt at trying to sidetrack from the issue at hand - that important information had definitely been left out of the book.

Anonymous said...

how do you know important information has definitely been left out? Did you read it?

Anonymous said...

Martyn, you're losing a lot of credibility by commenting on a book that you haven't read.

I used to respect what you were doing. But you're just as bad as the people you criticise. You are not objective.

If you see your original post, you know that you made a number of unfounded criticisms. For example, you said the book didn't mention Cold Store, when it obviously did (right in the beginning of the book). As an artist, you are really letting yourself down.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 1.16 the post said the ST report didn't mention operation coldstore, not the book.

rr8004 said...

It is very interesting article and quite impressive and more informative and looking forward to read such article. Please come visit my site Corpus Christi City Directory when you got time.

rr8004 said...

It is very interesting article and quite impressive and more informative and looking forward to read such article. Please come visit my site Phone Directory Of Corpus Christi City Texas TX State when you got time.