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)