Monday, June 25, 2012

Chan Heng Chee "mouthing PAP mantras"

By Teo Soh Lung

Professor Chan Heng Chee’s letter of 21 June 2012 to The New York Times cannot go unchallenged. She said:

“Even as Singapore evolves, we cannot forget our fundamental vulnerabilities as a small, multiracial society.

The Internal Security Act was used in the past to deal with a violent insurgency and active subversion by the Communists. It remains relevant as a pre-emptive tool to safeguard security, especially against the threat of terrorism.

Several countries have introduced similar preventive measures.”

As a political prisoner once upon a time and a friend of several former detainees who were imprisoned for decades and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by the PAP government, I am convinced that though Singapore is a small country, we do not need the Internal Security Act (ISA). Indeed, if we had abolished the ISA after the British left our shores or even after we were ejected from Malaysia, Singapore would today be a thriving democracy and an intellectual hub in South East Asia.

If only we have leaders like former ISA detainees, Dr Chia Thye Poh (jailed for 32 years), the late Dr Lim Hock Siew (20 years), Dr Poh Soo Kai (17 years), Mr Said Zahari (17 years) and Mr Tan Jing Quee (4 years), just to name a few, Singapore would be a more equal and just society today. Our elderly would not have to worry about hospital bills for the state would have provided basic health care. Our school going children would not need tuition every day of the week. They would have been able to enjoy their childhood as much as we did in the past. Our working adults would not need to compete for jobs by working long hours, neglecting their own families. There would have been time for leisure and the pursuit of hobbies that enrich lives.

For more than half a century, the PAP has only one method of governing Singapore – that of instilling FEAR in our people. Those who managed to rid part of this Fear are swiftly arrested and imprisoned under the ISA. The PAP believes and practises the Chinese idiom “Slaughter the chicken to teach the monkey”. Yes, Singaporeans are all monkeys and we need bloody chickens to keep us docile. Hence the periodic mass arrests under the ISA.

The PAP’s constant refrain that “we cannot forget our fundamental vulnerabilities as a small, multiracial society” is simply a ploy to perpetuate Fear in us. I know of no government which uses such a threat to govern a country.

Professor Chan’s bold claim that the ISA “was used in the past to deal with a violent insurgency and active subversion by the Communists” is a claim without basis. I would like to see the evidence that there was any insurgency, let alone, violent insurgency. As Singapore’s ambassador and a citizen who has lived through the 1970s as an adult and had witnessed her friends and contemporaries like Mr Ho Kwon Ping arrested under the ISA, I expect her to know more than others about the PAP’s ruthless use of the ISA. I expect her to read books such as Dark Clouds at Dawn, The Fajar Generation and The May 13 Generation in addition to Men in White and speak the truth instead of following her master’s voice.

Professor Chan also said that the ISA “remains relevant as a pre-emptive tool to safeguard security, especially against the threat of terrorism.” Before she makes such a claim, she should ask if she would like to be imprisoned for 20 years without trial under the ISA. It is easy to talk of the use of the ISA as a pre-emptive tool when the victim is not the speaker.

And finally, Professor Chan claims that “Several countries have introduced similar preventive measures.” Name me one first world country that has such a law as our ISA. Name me one first world country that has a record of imprisoning good citizens without trial for 32, 20, 17 or 4 years.

I am tired of intelligent people like Professor Chan Heng Chee mouthing PAP mantras without making any attempt to investigate the past and without reflecting on what their friends who have been imprisoned under the ISA went through. It is time they stand up for what is right and speak the truth.


Read also :
As Singapore Loosens Its Grip, Residents Lose Fear to Challenge Authority - New York Times
Singapore is (R)evolving - Kenneth Jeyaretnam
Former ISA detainees Chng Suan Tze (left) and Teo Soh Lung (right)

Public Memorial for Dr Lim Hock Siew

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Tributes to Dr Lim Hock Siew

Read also :
I'll forgive Lee Kuan Yew if he admits to his error and apologises to me : Lim Hock Siew
Dr Lim Hock Siew Speaks from Singapore Prison (Date - 18.3.1972)

This is the original letter that was sent to The Straits Times:

"I am saddened to read the news of the passing of Dr Lim Hock Siew. Nevertheless, I am glad that the Straits Times carried a decent report of his demise, "Barisan Socialis leader dies" (ST 6 June), which would at least remind Singaporeans of pioneer political leaders who had fought for Singapore's independence and argued for a different political vision.

As a young lad in the 1960s, I first heard about Dr. Lim from my father who spoke highly of him and his political conviction. My father used to share a stall with Dr Lim's dad, selling fish at the old Tekka Market. Like most people working in the market, my dad did not have the opportunity to attend school. But he was impressed with Dr Lim's academic progress and achievement. More than that, my dad respected Dr Lim for his political conviction and his genuine care for the poor, for example, seen in the low-cost medical treatment that he gave to those who consulted him in his clinic at Balestier Road. Needless to say, like many poor, and usually less-educated people, my dad and mum went to his clinic whenever they needed medical care.

It is a tragedy that he had to be detained in prison without trial for almost 20 years. One day, I hope, his side of the story will be given a fairer hearing, and a respected academic will write a properly researched book of the contribution of political leaders like him. It speaks volume of his character that in spite of his incarceration, he kept his conviction and stood his grounds; qualities which people who aspire to political office should have. One may disagree with his political ideology, but he will be respected by those who know him as a politician who loved his country and cared deeply for the cause of the poor."

The edited version published in ST Forum was this:

thanks to Ravi Philemon

(From left) Dr Beatrice Chen (wife of Dr Lim Hock Siew), Mrs Lim Poh Geok (wife of Prof Arthur Lim), Mrs Doris Poh (wife of Dr Poh Soo Chuan), Dr Poh Soo Chuan (brother of Poh Soo Kai), Dr Arthur Lim, and Mr Lim Chin Joo (brother of Lim Chin Siong) at the coffin of former political detainee Lim Hock Siew, who has died aged 81, at the wake on June 5, 2012. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Friends bid farewell to Lim Hock Siew Dr Lim Hock Siew’s Funeral
Dr Lim Hock Siew - a lesson in resilience, strength and humility
Think Centre’s statement on Dr Lim Hock Siew’s passing
On Dr Lim Hock Siew’s passing…
Dr Lim Hock Siew’s Funeral
Respecting and Remembering Dr Lim Hock Siew
A Man Of Principle
Singapore’s second most stubborn man dies at age 81
Dr. Lim Hock Siew - Unfulfiled Dream of the Fajar Generation....

Friends bid farewell to Lim Hock Siew
They honour the 'people's doctor', recall his humour and optimism

By Phua Mei Pin

DR LIM Hock Siew was remembered yesterday by fellow political detainee Tan Kok Fang as a shining light in the dark days they spent in Changi Prison's 'E Dormitory'.

Mr Tan, 71, recalled of Dr Lim: 'He often said, 'They can imprison my body, but they cannot imprison my spirit'.'

Dr Lim, a founding member of the PAP and Barisan Sosialis, was detained without trial under the Internal Security Act from 1963 to 1982.

That made him Singapore's longest-held political prisoner after Dr Chia Thye Poh.

A medical doctor by profession, he died of heart failure last Monday at the age of 81.

Mr Tan was one of three who gave eulogies yesterday afternoon at Dr Lim's funeral.

Held at his Joo Chiat Terrace home, the funeral was attended by a crowd of more than 100 people, some of whom made a special trip here from Malaysia and Australia.

The largely white-haired group of old friends and comrades spilt out of the house and onto the road. They remained standing in the open to listen to the eulogies even when it rained midway through the proceedings.

Smiles broke across the faces of those gathered, several of whom had also spent time at Changi, when Mr Tan recalled in Mandarin old jokes they had shared.

Dr Lim once told Mr Tan: 'All these years, my body may be in prison, but I often also tour the world. I can travel in spirit.'

Mr Tan said Dr Lim's humour and optimism had given strength to his fellow detainees.

Eye surgeon Arthur Lim, 77, a close family friend since 1950, also stood up to honour 'the people's doctor'.

Dr Lim was the founder of the Rakyat or People's Clinic in Balestier Road.

He returned to medical practice upon his release from detention and would not collect money from patients who could not afford to pay.

Remembering his friend, Dr Arthur Lim said: 'Hock Siew's big contribution was that he cared very much for his patients... He was a great doctor.'

The eye surgeon said he and several other old friends would write a book on Dr Lim Hock Siew's life, so that his story would not be lost.

Two presidential candidates also paid tribute to Dr Lim.

Dr Tan Cheng Bock wrote in a Facebook post that the man should be honoured for making sacrifices for his beliefs.

Mr Tan Jee Say, who spoke at the funeral, said that Dr Lim was his inspiration to pursue politics.

After the eulogies, the cortege moved off in the rain to Kong Meng San Crematorium.

After the body was consigned to the flames and the crowd dissipated, another former detainee Lim Chin Joo, 75, said: 'It is a loss to the country that a man like him could never have the opportunity to contribute to nation-building.'

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Dr Lim Hock Siew : A Singapore Patriot

by Zal Empty
"Some of you may have heard that when you are young you are idealistic, when you're old you are realistic. Now this is the kind of rubbish that is used by those who have either lost their ideals or have sold their ideals for self-interests. Each should not wither one's ideals or convictions. If anything, it should only consolidate and make it more resolute. If age has anything to do with it, it is only by way of expression and application of these ideals and convictions having the benefit of a youthful experience. And a life without convictions, without idealism, is a mere meaningless existence, and I'm sure most of you will agree that as human beings, we are worthy of a life much more meaningful than just that."

Dr. Lim Hock Siew (extreme right) returning from the United Nations Council for Joint Action in New York in 1962, together with Dr. Lee Siew Choh, Lim Chin Siong (who did not attend) and Sandra Woodhull.

Dr Lim living in forced exile on Pulau Tekong Besar from 1978-1982 after being detained without trial in various prisons from 1963-1978 on mainland Singapore.

Ex-political prisoner speaks out in Singapore (Banned in Singapore) from sotong on Vimeo.

Barisan Sosialis leader Lim Hock Siew dies at 81

Former ISA detainee is widely known for his commitment to socialist principles

Published on Jun 6, 2012
By Andrea Ong

A founding member of Barisan Sosialis and one of Singapore's longest-held political detainees has died.

Dr Lim Hock Siew died from heart failure in Parkway East Hospital at close to 10.30pm on Monday. He was 81.

While he had been suffering from kidney failure for the past three years, his family said he was fine until he fell and bumped his head at home about a week ago.

He was hospitalised but was in a stable condition until Monday night, when he had a heart attack and could not be resuscitated, said his wife Beatrice Chen, 80, a kidney specialist.

At the wake held in his home at 135 Joo Chiat Terrace last night, dozens of friends, fellow former detainees and colleagues from the medical fraternity streamed in to pay their respects. They remembered him as a principled man who stood by his beliefs to his last breath.

They also praised his commitment to socialist principles and helping the poor, recounting how he had argued on their behalf as a politician and treated them at special rates or for free as a doctor.

Dr Lim was detained without trial under the Internal Security Act from 1963 to 1982. He was the longest-held political detainee after Dr Chia Thye Poh.

Fellow Barisan founding member Poh Soo Kai, a close friend from their days in medical school, said: 'We've lost someone who stood firmly for democracy and human rights. He was imprisoned for so long and even though he couldn't be with his child, he stuck to his beliefs.'

Dr Lim was awakened to politics at a young age. The son of a poor fishmonger, he made it to medical school at the then-University of Malaya, where he plunged himself into campus activism.

He was a founding member of the anti-colonial University Socialist Club (USC) and a leader of the university's student union.

In 1953, he met former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, then a young lawyer helping to defend eight USC students charged for sedition by the British.

They won the case and the USC rallied behind Mr Lee and his associates when they formed the PAP in 1954. However, ideological differences in the PAP resulted in the 'big split' of 1961, when 13 PAP assemblymen were expelled from the party.

They formed the leftist Barisan Sosialis with other PAP defectors and Dr Lim joined the party with Dr Poh.

Both men resigned from the government medical service to start Rakyat Clinic (rakyat is 'people' in Malay), which still remains in Balestier Road.

In Barisan, Dr Lim was a key player in the leftists' battle with the PAP over the proposed merger with Malaya.

But on Feb 2, 1963, Dr Lim was among more than 110 leftists and unionists detained under Operation Cold Store, a government security exercise aimed at communists and suspected communists.

He was freed on Sept 6, 1982, and returned to medical practice.

Fellow ex-detainees and Barisan members such as Mr Tan Mui Hua, 70, and Mr Wee Toon Lip, 76, yesterday recalled that Dr Lim had been a natural leader even in detention.

In the Changi 'E Dormitory' which housed more than 100 detainees at its peak, Dr Lim provided medical care to those who fell ill, they said.

His son Yue Wen, 50, a senior administrator at National University of Singapore, told The Straits Times last night: 'When I was growing up, my memories of my father were more of me visiting him (in prison) and getting to know him. It was tough - kids can be quite cruel and I didn't know how to explain his absence.'

He only got to know who his father was 'in my adultyears... when I asked him questions and read his oral history transcript'.

Dr Lim's detention was raised by several people yesterday as an unresolved issue.

Fellow detainee Fong Swee Suan said: 'He really served the cause. Actually, he never did anything that broke the law, everything he did was according to the Constitution.'

Asked what he last talked about with Dr Lim, Mr Fong said: 'We are so old, whatever we can do we already have done. What is there to say?'

Top eye surgeon Arthur Lim, who was his medical school classmate and had visited Dr Lim in prison, said: 'He was arrested without trial and what he did wrong is not clear up to now. Maybe someone should clarify that.'

Historian Goh Geok Yian from the Nanyang Technological University said Dr Lim's role in Singapore's political history 'warrants him a place in the country's historical narrative'.

She added: 'Future generations of Singaporeans will likely hold diverse views about Dr Lim's contribution to the country's past and politics.'

Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, who was at the wake, described Dr Lim as a 'good and honourable man'.

Dr Lim is survived by his wife, son, daughter-in-law and a 17-year-old grandson, both of whom declined to be named.

Roundtable at Dr Lim Hock Siew's wake. [L-R] Dr Arthur Lim, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Yue Wen (son of Dr Lim), Martyn See, Teo Soh Lung.
ISA detainee Lim Hock Siew passes away aged 81
TOC Obituary: Dr Lim Hock Siew (21 Feb 1931 – 4 June 2012)
"He was a good and honourable man": Vivian Balakrishnan

Sunday, June 03, 2012

An open letter to PAP : Torture and the abuse of ISA

Hundreds turn up at rally against arbitrary detention
Singaporeans commemorate the ‘Marxist Conspiracy’
Blue or red pill? by Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss
In Memory of 1987 by Siew Kum Hong
The ISA is an impediment to building an inclusive society by Ravi Philemon
Singapore: A Place Where Wealth and Status is Preferred to Kindness and Humanity. (includes video links to speeches by Dr Vincent Wijeysingha and Martyn See)
Videos of speeches (requires logging into Facebook)
Photos by Lawrence Chong (requires logging into Facebook)
Photos by Yahoo!
That We May Dream Again - Video Highlights 
Video of speech by Martyn See

by Martyn See

Dear friends, if you are a member of the PAP, if you have voted for the PAP, if you are an admirer of Lee Kuan Yew or the PAP, you are endorsing and indirectly responsible for the following:

Firstly, you are endorsing the abuse of the law, particularly the ISA. The ISA have been used to arrest and detain without trial thousands of citizens who had posed no threat to the security to the State, except to the security of one political party - the PAP. The ISD and its network of informants and goons have quietly terrorized and intimidated two generations of Singaporeans into political submission. It has a created a nation where its citizens are afraid to participate in politics. It has a created a democracy where until the last general elections, about half of the electorate have never voted because the opposition could not find candidates to contest in the general elections. This has allowed the PAP to rule uninterrupted for more than 50 years, implementing policies that has increased the widening of the income gap and forced many of our senior citizens to work until their death.

Secondly, if you a member of the PAP, I would hold you responsible for endorsing the use of torture against prisoners detained under the ISA. Some of the methods used to extract false confessions include sleep deprivation, prolonged interrogation in cold rooms, solitary confinement, physical beatings and electric shocks. The following are excerpts of torture documented by Amnesty International.

“One case that has come to the attention of Amnesty International is that of Chai Chong. During his interrogation at Whitley Road Holding Centre, Chai Chong was tortured by electric shock treatment as well as beaten several times. On other occasions he had filthy rags forced into his mouth and red ants placed on his mattress.

In recent years, electric shock treatment has also been employed to torture female detainees.

Wong Kui Inn was arrested in July 1976. During her interrogation, she was subjected to torture with electric shocks and the repeated pouring of cold water over her body. Her husband, Pang Hee Fatt, was also arrested in July 1976. During his interrogation, Wong Kui Inn was brought in to see him and he was beaten in front of her.

Ho Khoon Khoong, a political prisoner arrested in August 1976 and a construction worker by occupation, was likewise severely beaten during interrogation. He was several times doused in cold water and also had his genital organs beaten. Yet another detainee arrested in 1976, Chieu Tuan Sin, also lost several teeth from beatings received during interrogation.”

The following is a description by Ho Piao, who was detained for 18 years, from 1963 to 1981.

“On 8 April 1979, I was taken to an underground cubicle, C9, where they switched on the air-conditioner to full blast and directed the cold blast at my body. There were four people - I would recognized them. They handcuffed my hands behind my back, removed my clothes, and poured cold water over my body. I was numb. According to my calculation, they poured water over my body 46 times. The main person was Liu (translation). I was shivering and could not talk.

This whole day I was tied to a wooden chair. They pulled my hair, pressed my nose and poured water through my nose and mouth. They pressed my throat and hit my lower abdomen three times until I suffered spasmodic pain. They hit my ribs with their knuckles and one of them applied a karate chop to my chest. One of them threw me on the floor. They then poured water over me and hit my head.

They said, "This is how we treat animals.”"

In March of 1978, a prisoner named Chan Hock Hua was diagnosed with cancer of the liver and was released from detention. A few days later, on 25th of March, he passed away in a private hospital.

“..Chan's family have repeatedly alleged that he was suffering in fact not from cancer of the liver but from a lacerated liver caused by beatings he had received in the early years of his detention.

The frequent detention of journalists under the ISA have secured for Singapore an almost uncritical press. Thus, when detainee Chan Hock Hua died, no newspaper in the Republic was willing to carry an obituary notice from his family.”

And thirdly, if you are a member of the PAP, you are responsible for the continuing use of the ISA. Currently, I believe there are about 20 to 30 Singaporean Muslims who are detained under the ISA or on Restriction Orders. We don't know if any of the recent and current ISA detainees have been mistreated. In September of 2011, I had sent an email to the ISD on behalf of my political association Singaporeans For Democracy asking to visit the detainees. There had been no reply from the ISD.

Lastly, as a member of the PAP, I would also hold you responsible for the ongoing intimidation and censorship of ex-detainees and activists. Two of my films featuring former detainees Said Zahari and Dr Lim Hock Siew remain banned. Anyone caught with the possession or distribution of these two films is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or both. Members of the SDP are currently under investigation for organising a public forum featuring ex-detainees Francis Seow and Tang Fong Har speaking via teleconference. I am also currently under police investigation for organising a private forum on the ISA. If convicted under the Public Order Act, I am liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.

Dear members of the PAP, if you do not endorse or condone the above which I have described, I would now urge you to campaign for a national commission of inquiry to investigate all past and current abuses of the ISA.

Thank you.