Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Sex and violence OK, but no politics or human rights please

28 Aug 2005
South China Morning Post

Headline: Adapt or die: a lesson for the Lion City

Byline: Singapore is freeing up its attitudes to sex and free speech
in a bid to reinvent itself. But critics say the changes are
cosmetic and real reform is needed, writes Peter Kammerer

Singapore's leaders have done amazing things with their tiny,
resource-poor country. In the 40 years since nationhood, they have
built an economic powerhouse with most of the trappings of a first-
world society.

From a manufacturing base, they evolved the city into a regional
financial hub and now a budding centre for biotechnology and other
21st century industries.

But with the thrusting economic expansion of China and India, the
island nation, variously called the Lion City or the Little Red Dot
and perceived by foreign observers as having a conservative, staid
image, has reached a crossroads. Put bluntly, it is a matter of
adapt or die, its leaders contend.

Such beliefs offer a spark of hope to critics of the governing
People's Action Party (PAP) which has ruled the island state since
its founding. Decades of agitation have made little impact on the
government's stranglehold on power or its control of the media and
free speech.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last Sunday gave the strongest
indication yet that change was on the way. Marking the 40th National
Day, the son of founding father and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew
said that a dramatic shift in approach was necessary to meet the

"It must be a totally different Singapore, because if it's the same
Singapore today, we're dead," he said. "We have to remake Singapore -
our economy, our education, our mindsets, our city."

As inspiration, Mr Lee pointed to the free-wheeling US city of Las
Vegas, referred to by Americans as "Sin City" for its casinos and
open policy on sex. The Singaporean leader was quick to qualify his
admiration: "Out of nothing in a desert they have built a city.
Forty million people visit it every year. We don't want to become
Las Vegas, but we should learn from their spirit."

In the past few months, the government has already given a foretaste
of a Las Vegas-style policy. In April, a ban on casinos was reversed
when approval was given for the construction of two gaming resorts
by 2009. The following month, Singapore was named as the first city
in Asia to host the Crazy Horse Paris cabaret, which features
scantily clad dancers. Last week, authorities gave approval in
principle to the island state's first sex expo, which media
reports said would include furniture "designed to enhance love-
making" and an erotic toy section when it opened in November.

The moves follow a gradual loosening of regulations on
entertainment, which officials have determined are necessary to
cater for a population increasingly exposed to international

But while cinemas can now show movies featuring nudity and internet
sites like Sarongpartygirl, the explicit blog of a sexually
uninhibited university arts student, are tolerated, social
restrictions abound. Homosexual and oral sex are considered crimes
while foreign publications and television programmes like Sex in the
City are frequently censored.

Singapore's best-known writer, Catherine Lim, last week called the
concessions remarkable and immense.

"When I go to a movie and nudity is shown or explicit sex, I
think, 'Oh my God, they're never going to have that for 100 years in
Malaysia or Indonesia," the novelist and political commentator
said. "It's amazing - there are changes in the arts scene and now
we're going to have a sex expo. When I read about that I wondered
whether I was reading right."

Lim believes the government sees Singapore's survival in changes in
the economy, education and arts and there is a genuine desire to
bring about positive change.

"There is frenetic activity to roll with the times and stay ahead.
Singapore's mantra is if you don't stay ahead, you not only slide
backwards, you go under." Nonetheless, Lim said the line would be
drawn on human and political rights.

Of the 84 elected members of parliament, 82 are from PAP. Political
activists claim that unfair electoral rules and the government's
total control of the media prevent opposition politicians from
having a fair chance of being elected. Laws such as the much-
criticised Internal Security Act have been used to silence
opponents, and opposition politicians have been sued into bankruptcy
and jailed for breaking rules on political gatherings.

The latest assessment of political and civil rights around the world
by the respected US-based Freedom House determined Singapore
was "partly free". It was ranked alongside Armenia, Congo-
Brazzaville, Jordan, Liberia and Morocco - nations far less
economically and socially developed.

Gay activist Alex Au shared Lim's assessment, determining that
Singapore's opening up was selective. "There is a bit more space for
pure entertainment, even of the slightly more erotic variety," Mr Au
said. "There is a call for political engagement by citizens, but it
is clearly on the PAP's own terms. Essentially, they want ideas and
suggestions from the people to help them govern better but without
in any way trimming or threatening their political monopoly."

Homosexuality was one area the government refused to discuss, he
said. While Hong Kong recently lowered the age for consensual gay
sex from 21 to 16, in Singapore homosexual relations remains
illegal. "The government has shown absolutely no willingness to
consider repealing that, nor have they demonstrated any real
willingness to remove censorship regarding discussion of such
subjects, which they consider sensitive," he said.

Yet Singapore has a thriving gay and lesbian scene, with eight
dedicated bars and pubs for the community and others that hold
regular "gay nights". An annual festival was recently banned for
unspecified reasons, but a month-long series of exhibitions and
workshops was permitted and is presently being held.

Mr Au said undercover police had attended each session, sometimes
filming the proceedings. Participants had responded by filming the

The government has answered calls for freer speech, though, most
notably with the introduction of a "Speaker's Corner" and last
October's decision to permit indoor meetings. But permits are
required, issues such as race and religion cannot be discussed and a
law banning unauthorised outdoor gatherings of five or more people
is still in place.

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, official phone-tapping -
previously an open secret - has been announced as legal.

But change, however small, is still welcome, the president of the
non-government ThinkCentre, Sinapan Samydorai, said. There is a big
difference now to 10 years ago. His organisation - which aims
to "critically examine issues related to political development
democracy, rule of law, human rights and civil society" - is further

"But when it comes to political decision-making and governance,
that's where the caution is," Mr Samydorai suggested. "They don't
want to open up too fast ... they're opening up slowly, but not in a
very liberal way."

Observers have not seen any moves to relax government control of the
media. Internet sites considered inappropriate are blocked and
distribution of foreign publications is delayed until censors have
given approval.

Veteran journalist and commentator Ravi Veloo does not find the
availability of articles and websites about sex unusual. "There is
freedom of the press in Singapore, but only for sex and violence,
not politics," Veloo said. "The boundaries are in the political
dimension- that is where the legitimacy of the government can be

A website giving legitimacy to an alternative point of view that the
government was uncomfortable with would be shut down. But Singapore
was changing and it had to, like any other country in the world, he

For the government, the biggest factor is the number of foreign
organisations in the country and how to deal with that from a
cultural, economic and political point of view.

But Lim also believes it has to contend with increasingly vocal
young Singaporeans. "We have a young group coming up who like to
call themselves Cosmopolitans rather than Singaporeans," she
said. "They are highly educated, sophisticated, globally exposed,
very savvy on the internet. They are becoming more vocal in debates."

There is no debate about whether Singapore is changing; there is,
however, uncertainty about which force will push the government to
make deeper, more far-reaching changes.

Singapore's government did not respond to efforts to get comment for
this article.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Singapore filmmaker surrenders tapes, camera to police

Tuesday August 30, 02:26 PM

Singapore filmmaker surrenders tapes, camera to police

SINGAPORE (AFP) - A Singaporean film maker who could be jailed for making a documentary on an opposition politician has surrendered his video camera and tapes to police investigators.

Martyn See told AFP the equipment and six existing tapes of "Singapore Rebel," a documentary about Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party, were handed over on Monday evening.

He was told to surrender the tapes, including two master copies, and the digital video camera after police questioned him a second time last week about the documentary.

"I have no idea when they will return or even if they will return at all," See said. "They just said they need the camera and tapes to investigate my case which was violating the Films Act."

Singapore's Films Act bans political advertising using films or videos, as well as movies directed towards any political end such as promoting political parties.

A police spokesman told AFP the investigation was still ongoing.

See's "Singapore Rebel" has been classified by local censors as having violated the act because of its political content, an accusation that the filmmaker rejects.

If convicted, See could be jailed for up to two years or fined up to 100,000 Singapore dollars (60,000 US).

He said the documentary was made to further his own understanding about the plight of opposition politicians in Singapore.

While banned at home, his documentary has been screened at two human rights festivals in the United States and New Zealand.

Affluent Singapore has often been criticised by human rights groups for maintaining strict political controls despite its rapid modernisation since becoming a republic 40 years ago this month.

Singapore has been ruled by the People's Action Party of founding father Lee Kuan Yew since independence. His son Lee Hsien Loong promised to loosen political restrictions after taking over as prime minister a year ago from Goh Chok Tong.

Chee, the most vocal opposition politician in Singapore, is facing bankruptcy after the High Court ordered him to pay 500,000 Singapore dollars (300,000 US) for defaming Goh and the elder Lee.

Monday, August 29, 2005

We celebrate the power of filmmaking in Singapore

"In the wrong hands film can have a powerful impact"
- Former Information and Art Minister George Yeo, 1998

Of course Mr Yeo did not mean that in the right hands, film will have negligible impact. In fact, no other country recognises and honours the value of filmmaking more than Singapore. That the potent combination of moving pictures and sound can influence minds, document reality and propel the nation forward is not lost on our nation's leaders.

For example, in his most important speech of the year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong used video clips to exhort Singaporeans to strive for a higher standard of service. The audience responded favourably to the two short clips "Tau Gay Not Enough" and applauded wildly when animated fireworks exploded in the the skyline of an artist impression of Marina Bayfront.

The ever-efficient Singapore police force also recognises the value of filmmaking in documenting evidence. In my video 'Singapore Rebel,' there were scenes of plainclothes police officers filming members of the public outside the Tanglin Police Station. Here in this picture, a young officer in civilian wear practises his camera skills at the book launch of opposition figure Chee Soon Juan.

Even the tools used for filmmaking is honoured by the Singapore authorities. In their investigation into my video 'Singapore Rebel', the police has asked that I hand over all tapes and even the camera to them. The video camera does not store images on its own. It requires cassette tapes to record and store these images. That the police would want to seize an empty video camera, is to my mind, their endorsement of the power of filmmaking. First the tapes, then the camera and finally the filmmaker himself..

Update : My tapes and camera were handed over to the police at the Police Cantonment Complex at about 6.45 pm this evening. When asked if I can get my camera back soonest, ASP Chan said "No promise."

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Singapore police asks filmmaker to turn in camera

Saturday August 27, 2005

Cops want to seize "Singapore Rebel"

Singapore investigates film

Saturday, Aug 27, 2005

A film director who could face charges over his documentary about an opposition politician said yesterday that police have asked him to surrender all remaining copies of the film and the equipment used to make it.

Martyn See said authorities have also asked him to hand over shipping documents for Singapore Rebel, which he sent for screening at the New Zealand Human Rights Film Festival and the Amnesty International Film Festival in Hollywood earlier this year.

See said police questioned him for three hours on Thursday.

Police have said See may have broken the law by knowingly showing or distributing a "party political film." See could be imprisoned up to two years or fined up to S$100,000 (US$60,606) if convicted.

Singapore's government is trying to promote this ultramodern city-state as an Asian regional arts and media hub -- but its leaders have been widely criticized for their strict censorship policies and other controls on free speech.

Leaders argue that such regulations help maintain the stability that has turned Singapore into one of Asia's safest and wealthiest countries.

Singapore Rebel is about outspoken government critic Chee Soon Juan, who faces bankruptcy due to defamation lawsuits filed by former leaders Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong.

The 26-minute film was pulled from this year's Singapore International Film Festival after organizers were warned that it may contain some politically sensitive material.

See said that an assistant police superintendent questioned him on Thursday about his political affiliations.

He said police also quizzed him about his online journal, and about how he had obtained archived newspaper articles posted on his Web site.

"The mood was relaxed until near the end of the interview, when I felt many questions were totally irrelevant to the making of Singapore Rebel," See said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

The filmmaker agreed to surrender the video, documents and copies on Aug. 29 after he was informed that the items would be returned.

Singapore's government has called politically motivated films "an undesirable medium" to debate issues. See has said he made the film independently and is not an opposition member.

Police spokesman Victor Keong confirmed that investigators met See on Thursday.

He gave no further details, saying only that "investigations are ongoing."

Friday August 26, 6:34 PM

Singapore police asks filmmaker to turn in camera

SINGAPORE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Singapore police have asked a filmmaker to surrender a video camera and tapes he used to make a documentary on opposition figure Chee Soon Juan as part of its investigation for possible breach of film laws.
Martyn See, a 36-year-old Singapore filmmaker, told Reuters the demand was made after he had been questioned for three hours at a police station on Thursday in connection with his film "Singapore Rebel".

See said on Friday it was the second time Singapore authorities interviewed him about the 26-minute documentary he withdrew from the city-state's annual film festival in March under pressure from government censors, who told festival organisers the work violated the Films Act.

"The questions were more political than last time and I think they were intended to find out about my political affiliation," he said, adding that while the talk took place in a relaxed atmosphere he would object to the request to hand in his camera.

"I don't mind them inspecting the camera but I need it back to do my work," he said.

See said the police officer had offered no explanation as to why they wanted the video camera.

A police spokesman declined to comment.

Under provisions introduced to the Films Act in 1998, anyone involved in producing or distributing "party political films" -- including those containing commentaries on government policies -- can be fined up to S$100,000 ($59,840) or jailed up to two years.

The film at the heart of the controversy focuses on the life of Chee Soon Juan, who lost in January a three-year legal battle against defamation charges brought by Singapore's founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and his successor.

In 2002, a documentary about veteran opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretnam was pulled from the film festival after its filmmakers were told it breached the act.

Opposition politicians have said the Films Act stifles political debate in the city-state, which has been ruled by the People's Action Party since independence in 1965. Its 84-member Parliament has only two opposition members.

Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, took over as the island republic's third prime minister last year, promising greater openness and saying Singaporeans "should feel free to express diverse views...or simply be different".

International free-press advocates have repeatedly criticised Singapore for its tight media controls, such as a government ban of non-commercial private ownership of satellite dishes. Films and TV shows are routinely censored for sex and violence.

The government says a high degree of control over public debate and the media is needed to maintain law and order.

The U.S. State Department, in its February annual report, sharply criticised Singapore for using libel suits to intimidate the opposition, saying the threat inhibits opposition politics and has led to a culture of self-censorship in the media. ($1 = 1.671 Singapore dollar)

Film maker to surrender political documentary to police

Agence France Presse
August 28, 2005

A SINGAPOREAN film maker whose documentary about a local opposition politician was banned from being shown in the city-state said Sunday, Aug 28, he would surrender his tapes to police as part of an investigation.
Martyn See was questioned by police for the second time last Friday about his movie "Singapore Rebel" and asked to surrender his video camera and the six existing tapes used as part of the documentary's production, he told AFP.

"Their reasoning is that the movie is deemed by MDA (Media Development Authority) to be a party political film," said See, 36.

"I do not think that it is, though," he said.

See said the police had not given any indication if charges will be filed against him and he planned to comply with the order to surrender the six mini-DV tapes on Monday -- but not his video camera.

"I have an issue about the (video) camera so I have asked the lawyer to formally request that the camera be inspected on the spot and returned to me," See said.

"I need the camera for my work... I fail to see why the camera should be confiscated," he said.

Singapore has often been criticised by human rights groups for maintaining strict political controls despite its rapid modernisation since becoming a republic 40 years ago this month.

The MDA classified See's documentary about opposition politician Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) as having violated the Films Act because of its political content, an accusation that the film maker rejects.

If convicted, See could be jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$100,000 (US$60,000).

"It is not a party political film in the sense that I did not make it on behalf of anybody but myself, and it does not contain any mention of SDP," See said.

The documentary was to further his understanding of the plight of opposition politicians, said See, who does not see himself as a political activist.

"I wanted to find out through Chee Soon Juan's experience why the Singapore opposition is marginalised.

"I consider myself a video documentalist of social and political issues," he said.

Chee, the most vocal opposition politician in Singapore, is facing bankruptcy after the High Court ordered him to pay S$500,000 (US$300,000) for defaming the city-state's two former premiers, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong.

Singapore has been ruled by the People's Action Party of founding father Lee since independence. His son Lee Hsien Loong promised to loosen political restrictions after taking over as prime minister a year ago from Goh Chok Tong.

The Straits Times, Aug 27, 2005
Chee film tapes, camera for cops,5578,336968,00.html?

FREELANCE filmmaker Martyn See, 36, will surrender to the police on Monday tapes and a video camera used to film a documentary on opposition politician Chee Soon Juan.

He was interviewed at Central Police Station in Cantonment Road on Thursday evening for about three hours.

The police wanted him to hand over his video camera and also the tapes of Singapore Rebel, a 26-minute documentary on Dr Chee's political activities. This is the second time Mr See has been called in for questioning over the film. The first was in May.

His film was withdrawn from the Singapore International Film Festival in March, after he was told it violated the Films Act. The law bans the making or distribution of 'party political' films.

These include advertisements by political parties or other political organisations here, or films 'directed towards any political end in Singapore'. A police spokesman confirmed Thursday's interview but would not comment further on the investigation.

Mr See said that while the interviewer was cordial, he felt the questions were more 'politically skewed' compared to May's session and he admitted to being 'a little shaken up'. He posted some of the questions on his blogsite singaporerebel.

They include: 'Did you make any application to be a member of any political party in Singapore?' and 'Do you have any intention to do so?'

Mr See said he has agreed to surrender the tapes on Monday. But he has also asked a lawyer to write to the police saying that seizure of the camera is unnecessary.

'I still need it for my work,' he said last night.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Police to confiscate camera and tapes relating to 'S'pore Rebel'

This evening, I was again interviewed by the police regarding the making of my short video Singapore Rebel. The interview lasted about 3 hours and was conducted at the Cantonment Police Complex. The officer interviewing me was Assistant Superintendent Chan Peng Khuang. Again, the mood was relaxed until near the end of the interview when I felt many questions were totally irrelevant to the making of Singapore Rebel and I threatened to walk out. ASP Chan told me it is alright to refuse to answer questions which I deemed to be irrelevant. At the end of the interview came the cruncher that I was to surrender all tapes, courier invoices and even the video camera that were used for the filming of Singapore Rebel. I agreed to surrender them to him on Monday 29 August 2005.

Before the interview began, I asked ASP Chan : So I am here to answer further questions about the making of Singapore Rebel. Right?

ASP Chan : Yes

Here is a sample of some of the questions which totalled about 60.

When asked what inspired you to make this film, you claimed that political opposition in Singapore is marginalised. What do you mean by "marginalised?"

What in your opinion should the media do?

So you mean that the Singapore media is being unfair to political opposition?

You claimed that you took two and a half years to make the film. So is it normal for filmmakers to take such such a period to make a 26 minute film?

What sort of activities of Chee Soon Juan were you waiting that you think was worth shooting?

You mentioned that a friend of yours named Peter did the voiceover for the film? Is he contactable?

You mentioned that you edited the film on a friend's Macintosh laptop. Is he contactable?

How was the item (laptop) passed to you and how was it returned to him?

Did you save any of the footages in his computer?

Do you own a computer now?

There were some newspaper articles on your blog? How did you secure those articles?

In your film, there were footages of Chee Soon Juan making speeches at a election rally. Where did you secure the footage?

Did you duplicate the video before returning?

Why was the election rally audio muted?

When did you know that Singapore Rebel was classified a party political film?

I am informing you that Lesley Ho's (of Singapore International Film Festival) email dated March 2005 had mentioned that Philip (co-director of SIFF) was told that Singapore Rebel was objectionable pertaining to party political films. You were told that if you did not withdraw the film, the "full extent of the law" will apply. What do you have to say to that?

So you agree that at this stage when you read Lesley's email, you knew that Singapore Rebel was classified as a party political film?

Since you knew that the film "may have been" a party political film at that stage, why would you want to circulate the film to overseas film festivals?

Did you make any application to be a member of any political party in Singapore?

Do you have any intention to do so?

Can you recall participating in any activities organised by any political party in Singapore?

(Somewhere at this point of the interview, I told ASP Chan that I would walk out if questions continue along this line).

Did Chee Soon Juan direct you to do the filming on May Day (arrests of 2002)?

On 19th July, 2005, Chee Soon Juan and some members was speaking at Speakers Corner? Were you there to film the event? Who directed you to film the event?

On August 11, 2005, were you present in front of CPF Building when Chee Soon Juan and other SDP members gathered for a protest?

Did you contact Chee Soon Juan after the video interview on Singapore Rebel?

Are you still in contact with Chee Soon Juan now?

I do not want to go to your house. Are you able to produce to the police the following items?

1) Two remaining copies of Singapore Rebel
2) Receipts from courier services of you mailing the film to New Zealand and USA (as mentioned in your earlier statement)
3) The Samsung mini-DV camera you used to make Singapore Rebel, and
4) Any raw footages of Singapore Rebel before the editing.

I ask : When are you going to return them to me?

ASP Chan : On completion of the case. Won't be too long.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Next police interview on 25th August

My second date with the police over the making of Singapore Rebel will be held next Thursday on the 25th August at 6.30pm at the Cantonment Police Complex.

After the first interview, which had included queries about my academic qualifications, CPF contributions, PC ownership and brand of video camera used, I have no clue as to what further information they may need to know.

When is PM Lee giving his National Day Rally Speech?

Last year, he announced that police permits will be waived for indoor meetings. Perhaps in another effort to show that Singapore is truly "opening up," he will announce the abolition of Section 33 of the Films Act, and spare me the potential ignominy of a criminal record. And by that, Mediacorp will also be free to produce the long-awaited historical epic of Lee Kuan Yew and PAP.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

9 Aug 1965 - Suddenly, Singapore was out .. And gained independence

Today, on 9th August 2005, as Singaporeans celebrate 40 years of sovereignty and independence, it is worthwhile to note that 40 years ago on this day, the mood was anything but celebratory. Rather, according to these reports from the Straits Times, the Singapore Government had seemed more intent to publicise its mourning over the Separation than revelling in the formation of an independent nation.

Did the PAP really thought that Merger with Malaysia was feasible? Did Lee really harbour an ambition to be the Malaysia's Prime Minister? Was the concept of a Malaysian Malaysia a realistic one? Did Singapore earn its independence by virtue of its exit from from Malaysia? What exactly are we celebrating on National Day?

The full account of Singapore's road to independence has yet to be written. Through these excerpts from the press archives, I hope to have contributed a little in providing a fresher perspective than just the pomp and pageantry of National Day Parades.

Meanwhile, I still have a police investigation to worry about...


Singapore today separated from Malaysia, following an amendment to the Constitution approved unanimously by both Houses of Parliament under a certificate of urgency.

Simultaneously with the passing of the amending Bill - to allow Singapore to leave Malaysia and become an independent and sovereign State - a proclamation to this effect was gazetted.

At a Press Conference this evening, Tengku Abdul Rahman annouced that Malaysia would sponsor Singapore's admission into the United Nations and as a member of the Commonwealth.

At his own press conference in Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew called on his people to remain firm and calm. His eyes brimming with tears: "What has happened has happened. Everybody will have a place in Singapore and will continue helping the Malays in competition with UMNO."

Secret Signing

Today's dramatic turn follows the secret signing of the Independence of Singapore Agreement last Saturday by leaders of the two Governments.

THis document provides a treaty on external defence and mutual assistance between the two Governments and stipulates that:

BOTH GOVERNMENTS will establish a joint defence council for external defence and mutual assistance.

THE MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT will give "reasonable and adequate" assistance for Singapore's external defence. In return, Singapore will contribute a "resaonable" number of units from its own armed forces.

THE MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT will continue to maintain military bases within Singapore and will be permitted to use these bases for defence purposes.

NEITHER GOVERNMNTS will enter into any treaty or agreement with a foreign country which may be deterimental to the independence and defence of either.

Meanwhile, Singapore acted swiftly to establish itself as an independent State, completely unconnected with the mainland.

In the early hours of the morning, while Singapore slept, coded messages were being flashed to about 20 heads of Governments abroad - explaining the situation.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew stayed up all night to get these messages out. With him were most of his Cabinet colleagues who have had little sleep since the big break began on Saturday.

Early TV

Sharp on the hour, Radio Singapore went on the air to announce the separation.

Television came on at 4.30 pm, two hours ahead of schedule, with a telecast of the Prime Minister's press conference.

The news spread swiftly through the city after the radio annoucement. In a number of places, it was greeted with a thunderous explosion of fire-crackers.

Police patrols throughout the island were intensified. The force had been alerted two days before.

In a letter to the Commissioner of Police, Mr John Le Cain, Dated 7 Aug. Dato (Dr) Ismail bin Dato Haji Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's Minister of Home Affairs, had said :

"I herewith instruct you as from Aug. 9 1965 to take orders from Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Prime MInister of Singapore, in order to enable him to discharge his responsibility for the internal security of Singapore."

The same day, the Tengku also instructed Brigadier S.M. Alsagoff, Commander of the Singapore-based 4th Federal Infantry Brigade:

"In the absence of the Tun, I take full responsibility in giving you this instruction.

"As from Aug 9 1965, you are to take instructions from Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore, as he is now onward in charge of the defence and security of Singapore. Other orders will be issued in due course."

Meanwhile, all Malaysian flags fluttered down and were replaced by Singapore flags by noon.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

5 days before Separation ...

Part Xl of the retrospective on Singapore's road to independence


Examining the PAP concept of Malaysian Malaysia, Inche Senu said: "The PAP itself a shining example of what its Malaysian Malaysia stands for.

"One can judge for oneself the troubles and tensions in Singapore ever since the PAP captured the State administration.

"First there was a tirade against all opposition parties and leaders coupled, of course, with the mailed fist shown to professionals, social workers, trade unionists and others.

"The PAP used every tactic and strategy familiar to Communism to create an air of anxiety and despair among the people - then baited them into submission with promises of patronage and protection to those conforming.


"Every legislative and administrative organ in the State was twisted to suit the polemics of the party and its ruling clique.

"Rivals and opponents were placted for a while with false promises of co-operation and ruthlessly weeded them out.

"Now the PAP has isolated itself that it fears its own shadow. Probably memories of its past misdeeds - arrests, liquidation and elimination of opposition by any means - are haunting its leadership so much that it is now convulsed with fear of retribution.

"Let me tell you this: If you are sincere about a Malaysian Malaysia, then do not betray the trust, however unknowingly placed in you, by the people of Singapore. Do not become heroes on someone else's blood."

Ten years ago, he said, there were some who had felt uneasy about independence. But instead of losing all to the Malays - as some then feared - Malaysians of all walks of life gained immensely through independence.

Inche Senu then referred to "threats" by Mr Lee Kuan Yew that if the Central Government did not yield to his interpretation of a Malaysian Malaysia, Britain, Australia and New Zealand may do some serious re-thinking about helping to defend Malaysia.

"First of all," Inche Senu said,"Mr Lee must know that the defence of Malaysia is primarily the responsibility of Malaysians themselves.

'Clarify' call

"Our Commonwealth allies are here by invitation of the Malaysian Government for the specific purpose of assisting in our external defence.

"Do Mr Lee's threats mean that the purpose of our allies in helping to defend our integrity is merely to prop up Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP?

"I think they know better than to interfere in our internal affairs."

"Whoever is trying to implicate others in our local affairs is in fact betraying our national interests and may be considered by the people as a stooge of foreign powers."

Friday, August 05, 2005

Police investigation on Singapore Rebel resumes

Hi all,

Police Assistant Superintendent Chan Peng Kuang called me today, 5 August 1600 hours, to request for a second interview regarding the making of my short film Singapore Rebel.

The first interview was conducted on 16 May 2005 by the same officer.

I've told ASP Chan that I'll call him to arrange a date for the next interview.

UMNO 'extremists' may detain Lee, alleged PAP

Part X of the retrospective on Singapore's road to independence

STRAITS TIMES, June 8 1965

The Central Government was today urged to take consitutional measures to exclude Singapore from Malaysia or to "put Mr Lee Kuan Yew away to sober him up."

The call came from the Alliance whip in the Senate, Dato T.H. Tan, who said,"Either of these measures will ensure peace and harmony in our country. No one who has gone berserk should be let loose."

The Senate was debating a motion to thank the king for his speech from the Throne when he opened the present session of Parliament.

During the debate, all sections of the House took Mr Lee to task for talking about a Malaysian Malaysia and convening the Malaysian Solidarity Convention.

Dato T.H. Tan thought that Mr Lee should be told on no uncertain terms that Malaysia could do without Singapore.


If Mr Lee persisted in his "anti-Malay and his unpatriotic conduct", constitutional steps should be taken to separate Singapore.

Appealing to the public "not to follow Mr Lee", Dato Tan said,"There appears to be little doubt that Mr Lee through his words and deeds is stirring up emotions and causing dissension.

"The man must be stopped before irreparable harm is done. Mr Lee is trying to split the races here and to partition our country.

"It was on the basis of inter-racial unity that Tengku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues won independence for us. Now this very unity is being undermined."

"He added: "Let Mr Lee stew in the Communist soup bowl that is Singapore. If he does not think much of the Communists, then let us release Lim Chin Siong and other comrades and let us see how Mr Lee can stand up to them, face to face, man to man."

Inche Ahmad Haji Taff (Singapore) said Singapore's Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, was like a frog in a coconut shell.

Referring to his concept of a Malaysian Malaysia, Inche Ahmad sais: "Mr Lee is doing nothing except to irritate the feelings between the non-Malays and Malays."

He accused Mr Lee of trying to get rid of the Malay Rulers and the head of the nation.

"Mr Lee is trying to get rid of all Sultans and make this country a republic with himself as the president. Perhaps he is not satisfied with Islam being the State's religion."

He told the House: "Let Mr Lee spell out exactly what he wants. Let him show when the Alliance Government had infringed the Constitution.

"Let the Malays in the PAP tell him to change his attitude and not to kill our nation. We do not want to have two Prime Ministers."

Dato Dr Cheah Toon Lok said that "political parties like the PAP living in a different envirnment cannot think as we do."

Since Mr Lee has said that he was neither a Communist or a pro-Communist but a neutral, he could be only one thing - a political opportunist willing to sacrifice the peace of Malaysia for his own ambition.

Inche Saidon bin Kechut described Mr Lee as a "troublemaker with a hatred of the Malays and who wants to destroy them."

He was also greedy for power. "Not satisfied with being a dictator in Singapore he is now seeking to extend his power. He now wants to control the Central Goverment."

STRAITS TIMES, July 9 1965

Dr Toh Chin Chye, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister, said here today that instructions had been issued for a case to be made out for the detention of Lee Kuan Yew.

But Dr Toh would not say who had issued the instructions, and to whom they had been issued.

At a press conrference in City Hall this afternoon, he said: "I personally do not wish to enlarge on the matter, but I would say that those in the Government who are responsible for such matters know that we know.

"It can rest at that."

Soilidly united

The press conference had been called to explain the Singapore Government's stand on the expulsion of free-lance journalist Mr Alex Josey and "attempts by extremists in the Alliance, particularly the UMNO," to have Mr Lee arrested.

With Mr Toh were the Minister for Law, Mr E.W. barker, and the Minister for National Development, Mr Lim Kim San.

Dr Toh opened the conference with the announcement that the entire Singapore Cabinet was solidly united on this matter.

'First step'

The expulsion of Mr Josey was only the first step towards the suppression of liberalism in Malaysia's political field, he said.

Then, reading from a prepared statement Dr Toh said: "If the Central Government continues to placate these extremist elements, further respressive measures must be taken which must lead to the break-up of Malaysia.

"Another demand was the arrest and detention of Mr Lee Kuan Yew."

STRAITS TIMES, July 21 1965

The Minister of Education, Inche Mohammed Khir Johari, today said that the Allaince Government would "never make a martyr" of the Singapore Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

He was commenting on a statement by Singapore's Minister for Culture, Mr S. Rajaratnam, that the expulsion of freelance journalist, Mr Alex Josey, was a "makan kechil" to whet the appetite of UMNO extremists for the "main dish" - the arrest of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

"I cannot understand why Mr Rajaratnam keeps on harping on this when both Tengku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak have already said there was no move to arrest Mr Lee," Inche Khir said.

"We will never make a martyr of the Singapore Prime Minister. All this hope of impending arrest exists only in the minds of the PAP leaders."

Lee branded a 'traitor', told to 'sit down, get out'

Part lX of the retrospective on Singapore's road to independence


Shouts of "traitor," "sit down" and "get out" rang out in the House of Reprsentatives today when Singapore's Prime MInister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, twice tried to interrupt a speech by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Inche Senu bin Abdul Rahman.

The first outburst occurred when Inche Senu read extracts of a speech Mr Lee had made in Singapore's Delta community centre on Sunday where he had spoken of building a "new nation out of ashes..."

Mr Lee rose to clarify his remarks, but was shouted down from all sections of the House. Looking appealingly at the Speaker, he said: "As you wish."

Inche Senu continued: "He wants to destroy this nation and build a new one..."

There were more noisy interruptions when Inche Senu read extracts from Mr Lee's speeches during his recent visit to Australia.


In one speech, Mr Lee was quoted as having said that Tengku Abdul Rahman had made a "stupid, naive mistake" about the allocation of Parliamentary seats for Borneo.

Mr Lee got up. As one man, the backbenchers thumped their tables and yelled: "Sit down ... sit down ... traitor ... get out."

The Speaker, Dato C.M. Yusof, banged his gravel hard and in a raised voice said: "Will Honourable members stop shouting out loud and behaving in an unparliamentary way..."

Leading the Alliance condemnation of the PAP was the Minister of Finance, Mr Tan Siew Sin, who said that co-operation with the Singapore Government was out of the question as long as Mr Lee Kuan Yew remained Prime Minister.

Mr Tan described Mr Lee as the "greatest disruptive force in the entire history of Malaysia and Malaya."

He warned that Mr Lee's idea of partitioning Malaysia would only lead to bloodshed. He cited India and Cyprus as examples.

At 8.15 pm, Mr Lee - as mover of the amendment to the resolution to say "thank you" to the Yang di-Peruan Agong for his gracious speech from the Throne - asked be allowed to exercise his right of reply.

The Speaker told him there were two Central Government Ministers who wished to speak before him. But by the time Inche Senu and the Minister for Lands and Mines, Inche Rahman Ya'akub, had finished it was 9pm - time for the House to adjourn till Thursday.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Tan Siew Sin, said today that co-operation with the Singapore Government was out of the question as long as Mr Lee Kuan Yew remained Prime Minister of the island State.

He told the House of Representatives: "It would be easier for the camel to pass through the eye of the proverbial needle than for the Central Government to co-operate with the Government of Singapore."

He warned that Mr Lee's idea of partitioning Malaysia would only lead to bloodshed, as had happened in India and Cyprus.

"Any man who can make these proposals "cooly and carefully," he said, "has boundless capacity for mischief.

"I say this in sorrow rather than in anger. Only a warped mind, frustrated in its quest for power, can support this idea.

"It is a warped mind which is prepared to sacrifice thousands of lives, to shed blood, in order to ensure that the owner of the mind achieves supreme power. That is the measure of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

A pity

Mr Tan said: "It is terrible pity that this is so. It is a pity that differences are becoming so acute and so serious. I am convinced that not only should Malaysia be one but that human race itself should be one."

"In the last analysis, the interest of Malaysia is far more important than the interest of any political party, or even the interest of a single State.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"PAP is using communal tactics"

Part Vlll of the retrospective on Singapore's road to independence

By June 1965, it had become clear that Singapore's Merger with Malaysia was about to collapse. In a last ditch attempt to shore up relations, PM Lee Kuan Yew proposed the possibilty of "partitioning" where States who had wanted a Malaysian Malaysia can run a system different from the Central Government's. It provoked an outcry in Malaysia's Parliament. Two and a half decades later, Chinese Premier Deng Xiapeng decreed the One Country Two Systems policy for China and Hong Kong. Lee was among the first to heap effusive praise for Deng's formula.


The People's Action Party has been spreading "fairy tales" about Malaysia overseas, the Minister for Home Affairs, Dato (Dr) Ismail bin dato Abdul Rahman, told the House of Representatives today.

He was countering PAP accusations in the House that the Central Government had failed to work towards a Malaysian Malaysia.

He told the House that in PAP "fairy tales" which foreign correspondents believed, Singapore's Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had "twisted facts and arguments" to blacken and smear political opponents.


Singapore's Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, last night spoke of the possibility of partitioning as an "alternative arrangement" should unconstitutional methods be used to prevent a Malaysian Malaysia.

Those States which wanted a Malyasian Malaysia could get together.

He could think of three - Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak. Malacca and Penang were possibilities.

He said the present internal and international situation favoured an immediate decision on whether there was going to be a Malaysian Malaysia.

'Other ideas'

"Another resaon why it is necessary to decide now, not later on, is because it is easier for us, if they do not want a Malaysian Malaysia, to make alternative arrangements some other way," he said.

"The agreement in the Constitution must lead to a Malaysian Malaysia, and if they want to stop it they must use unconstitutional methods to stop it.

"So I say if they want to do that, do it now. It will be easier for us to make other alternative arrangements.

If Malays were daily exhorted to unite on the basis of race and not nation, in five years' time it would be very difficult to change the thinking on the ground.

Malaysian rule

Mr Lee said he did not want to talk too much about alternative constitutional arrangements.

He declared that Singapore had never agreed to Malay rule when it joined Malaysia. What it agreed to was Malaysian rule.

Talk that the people of Singapore were not accustomed to Malay rule, unlike the people of Kelantan and Trengganu, "was all bunkum."


The PAP was resurrecting the communal angle, Dato Ismail said, because the party was aware that this was an "effective weapon."

The Alliance had buried this question and was concentrating on building inter-racial harmony.

He described as untrue PAP claim that special privilges for the Malays only benefited capitalist Malays.

"Even if the Malays try hard to become millionaires, I do not think they will succeed. The odds are gainst them. They are not endowed as other Malaysians are in the ingenuity to acquire and accumulate wealth.

"The ratio in Government service benefits all sections of Malays who are qualified."

Referring to Mr Lee's charges that the allaince was creating a Malay Malaysia, dato Ismail said: "We Malay Malaysians, as the honourable Member from Singapore would like to call us, is not afraid of the truth."

He referred Mr Lee to the comparitively small number of Malays in commerce and industry, and the small number of Malays in the University of Malaya, and said:

"If Mr Lee adds up the strength and weakness of Malaysia, he cannot accuse the Malays of dominating Malaysia.

"With Indonesian confrontaion, the Malays cannot afford to dominate Malaysia without ruining this country."

Dato Ismail added: 'Like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the two images of the PAP cannot remain separate for long. The two must come together. The time for merging must come.

"The PAP is a party that shouts 'fire, fire' but commits arson."

He then paraphrased Abraham Lincoln: "You can fool some of the Malaysians all the time, all the Malaysians some of the time, but not all Malaysians all the time."

Saying that the Alliance had won independence for Malaya and helped Singapore gain independence, he added: "Surely, we can win the battle against the PAP."

In the battle to win the hearts and minds of the people, the Allaince would abide by democratic principles as long as the Opposition did likewsie."

MR CHIA THYE POH (Barisan Socialis - Singapore) took the PAP to task for "burying democracy" in Singapore by what he called "calculated steps."

He said Malaysia had not brought independence in the true sense of the term. Foreign troops were still in the land and more were coming in.

But apart from this, the PAP was the party which sought the friendship of the Allaince to fight and oppose one section of the Alliance during the last elections.

"Now the same PAP is fighting the Alliance in the open for its own ends.

"In the past, the PAP made friends and made use of the workers and students to gain power. Once they came into power they discarded them.

"In the past, they also made use of political opponents for their own ends. They now oppose all of them. What is the reason behind this whole plot?" he asked.

Mr Chia said there was no political democracy in Singapore because the PAP had banned all public rallies by the Barisan Socialis.

"The PAP, the devil, is now posing as an angel to this House. I ask that this be taken with a pinch of salt," he added.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

UMNO members demanded detention of Lee Kuan Yew

Part Vll of the retrospective on Singapore's road to independence


Tengku Abdul Rahman today urged UMNO leaders to keep calm over sentiments expressed by Singapore's Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, in recent weeks.

"I often said before that my intention was to make Singapore the New York of Malaysia and in order to do that the Singapore leaders should confine all the time and attention to the well-being of Singapore.

"It is obvious that every right-thinking person and every business man feels that Singapore's place is with Malaya. Without Malaya, Singapore would not enjoy the prosperity that she is enjoying today."

Mr Lee Kuan Yew had even gone so far as to suggest that even the Malays were not indigenous people of this country.

This, of course, is rather childish because everyone knew that under the Constitution the Rulers of the various States were hereditary.

That alone was sufficient proof that the Malays were the natives of this country. To suggest that the Malays were not was to say that the English were not natives of England. ven before the arrival of teh Anglo-Saxons, the Celts had already been there!

It would be best for UMNO to play down communal politics.

Mr Lee could not influence the minds of the Chinese because the Chinese were practical-minded people. They knew what they wanted and got what they wanted and that's all they cared about., except of course, the Communist sympathisers who will never be satisfied until they can turn Malaysia into a third China.


The Chinese were given fullest opportunities to trade, to do business and to make money and also to take part in politics, education and culture.

In fact they owned three fourths of the economy of this country and most of the businesses.

We will stick to words, says Ismail

Keep calm. This was also the tenor of Dato (Dr) Ismail bin Haji Abdul Rahman's speech at the UMNO general assembly today when the delegates demand the detention of the Singapore Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

"This is not the way we do things in Malaysia," Dato Ismail admonished the delegates. "We must act constitutionally."

"Mr Lee has confined his attacks to speeches and we should reply in like manner.

"To use force in these circumstances is wrong and undemocratic."

Strong Action

Dr Ismail was speaking on a resolution calling on the Central Government to take "strong action" against Mr Lee for his remarks against the Malays.

Dato Ismail said: "If Mr Lee uses force, I'll put him in detention. I have been given this power and will use it very carefully."

"If we are not careful, we will play into the hands of the PAP.

"We are a democratic nation and not a totalitarian one. We must show the world that we have the power and also believe in the practice of democracy.

"The only weapon we can use in the matter is to fight constitutionally and to persudae the Chinese and Indians not to believe the PAP and its leaders.

"If we can have the support of the Chinese and the Indians to gain our independence, then we can have their support to fight the PAP.

Mr Lee, Dato Ismail said, might be clever, but every clever person had a little foolishness and stupidity.

"He should know that no one can rule this country without the support of the Malays," Dato Ismail added.


The Minister of Finance, Mr Tan Siew Sin, today warned the Chinese in Singapore of the futility of seceding from Malaysia.

"I would ask them to remember that Singapore cannot exist by itself. Even secession from Malaysia cannot eliminate the fact that less than 1.5 million Chinese there are surrounded by over a 100 million people of the Malay race in this part of the world.

"They have to come to terms with this fact of life and I think the Chinese are realistic enough to appreciate that this fact cannot be brushed away, whatever one may think and whatever one may wish."

The day a young Mahathir blasted Lee and PAP


The big debate on yesterday's Speech from the Throne by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong opened in the House of Representatives today with a strong Government attack on Opposition parties and the trade union movement.

Dr Mahathir bin Mohammed (All-Kota Star Selatan), who moved the resolution to thank the King for his gracious speech, described the PAP as being pro-Chinese, Communist-orientated and positively anti-Malay.

He said,"The last item has been kept in limbo until lately, when for reasons of political strategy and in an attempt to win over the Chinese and foreign countries to its side, the PAP decided to come out in the open with this basic anti-Malay principle.

"Everyone must have noticed the change in PAP strategy. When the PAP first made overtures to the Malayan Government on the common market and merger, UMNO was never attacked.

Lee attacked

Dr Mahathir then charged the PAP with paying lip-service to the national language, while playing to chauvinist ideas by retaining multi-lingualism.

In education, national language schools were the worst treated.

In industry, the PAP policy, he charged, was to encourage Malays to become labourers, but Malays were not given facilities to invest as well.

Dr Mahathir said that the Singapore Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, having made little headway to win true Malaysians into the PAP camp, embarked on a "most unseeminly programme" to get countries friendly to Malaysia to use their influence and opinion to change the political adherence of Malaysians.

"The PAP leader does not want to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia, unless of course it is to the good of Malaysia, and he never missed an opportunity to emphasise that it would be good of Malaysia if he were the Prime Minister.

"Already Time magazine has dubbed Mr Lee as the man who can save Malaysia. Other American papers and journals have spoken in like vein. But the Australians and British, being more knowledgeable or more diplomatic, have not been so open.

"So Mr Lee embarked on his crusade to the south, to Australia and New Zealand, to garner Anzac opinion.

"Carefully organised and brilliantly conducted by the maestro himself, the progress of Mr Lee would have made Dr Goebbels feel like a rank amateur.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Lee had ambitions to be PM of Malaysia, alleged UMNO

Part VI of the retrospective on Singapore's road to independence


SINGAPORE'S Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, said today he would like to be Prime Minister of Malysia only if that would benefit Malaysia as a whole.

Mr Lee told a Press conference here he thought a Malay should be Prime Minister for at least several more years.

He said: "We will keep everyone alarmed if Malaysia presents an international image of immigrant and indigenous stock able to find accomodation on a rational basis."

Asked to what extent Malaysians had a sense of national unity, Mr Lee said: "I am not satisfied with their feeling of nationalism.

"It will take some time to fuse four different entities, sometimes with conflicting interests."


The Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Inche Senu bin Abdul Rahman, said today that Mr Lee Kuan Yew's ambition to be Prime Minister of Malaysia could ruin the country.

Adressing members of the UMNO branch, Inche Senu said Mr Lee had humiliated the Malays by saying that no one race can say this is their native land.

"Mr Lee made an attempt to distort history," Inche Senu said, "and I wish to give him a piece of advice that whoever wants to contradict history or fight against the process of history will destroy himself in that process.


"What he really means by that remark is that Malays should have no special privileges or rights as duly constituted and agreed to him before the formation of Malaysia."

Describing this as a "dangerous political tactic, Inche Senu went on: "No one party can rule this country without the support of the Malays. Mr Lee know this.

"If you want to rule, they must have two things before them. First, they must co-operate with UMNO; second, they have to isolate, split and destroy the UMNO at every level."

"This can be done by instigating and dividing teh Malaysians. This is what Mr Lee attempted to do when he made such humiliating remarks."

Inche Senu the said that since teh alliance came into power, it did not have any trouble or conflict with the races in this country.

'Too Small'

"Now Mr Lee is impatient to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Singapore island is too small for him. "

"He thinks he is clever, but he forgets there are people in Malaysia who understand his manoeuvres. He is drunk with flattery, showered upon him by the foreign press."


The president of the Penang UMNO division, Syed Hassan Aidid, said today that as long as the Alliance remained in existence, there was no hope for other parties to govern the country.

"Even is Lee Kuan Yew feels that he is a smart man - smarter than Tengku Abdul Rahman - he must not dream of replacing the Tengku as leader of the Central Government," he said.

"As long as Mr Lee keeps on abusing the Malays, he can never hope to get any support from them and without this, he will never gain the reins of government."


Tengku Abdul Rahman said today that he did not think the people of Malaysia would put the Singapore Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, into power.

He was commenting on reports that Mr Lee was aspiring to be become the nect Prime Minister of Malaysia.

"I wish him good luck. I am a tired man," said the Tengku.

"If he succeeds, let him take over, but I don't think he can, as I'm sure the people of would not want to put him in power."