Function 8 is raising funds for FFF 2015.


Function 8 is raising funds for an exciting lineup of films at the Freedom Filmfest 2015. Please give generously! This is the 4th year  Function 8  is presenting the event. Freedom Film Festival (FFF) is an annual human rights documentary film festival established in 2003 by Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia. Through an annual film competition, video workshops and film screenings, FFF aims to create a vital platform to showcase outstanding human rights documentaries, often unseen, unheard and untold, owing to its lack of commercial backing and the control of mainstream media

FFF Singapore 2015 inaugurated a SGD 5,000  film grant for the best shortlisted proposals. Three proposals were selected to pitch before Anna Har, Director of Pusat KOMAS, Brenda, a documentary filmmaker and producer, Lena Hendry, festival manager of FFF and Noor Effendy Ibrahim, former Artistic Director of the Substation on 18 April.

Freedom Film Fest film grants encourage the public to use the video medium as a tool for social documentation and film-making. Technological advances have brought about a democratising effect to film-making in recent years; with a video camera in hand, any individual or community can share their story in the way they want to tell it, and express their skills and passion to produce socially relevant films. FFF has been bringing you socially relevant human rights films and documentaries since 2003.

Since its inauguration, FFF Singapore has always had the good fortune of getting help from dedicated volunteers. Screening expenses were funded by donations from supporters and well wishers. This year, Function 8 decided to take a bigger step forward by enlarging the footprint of this festival:

– there will be two days of screening
– a bigger screening hall to accommodate a bigger audience
– a professional to curate the event,
– a film grant for the best Singapore filmmakers
– a series fringe screenings.
F8 Bank DetailsWe will need to have a bigger and more sustainable budget to match. We have been working on a budget of SGD 20,000. We look forward to your generous support in helping us raise this amount.

How the funds will be used
All money raised in this funding project will go towards the expenses and organisation of this year’s FFF Singapore scheduled for November 14 & 15. We will be raising funds in tiers:

First SGD5,000 – This is for the film grant for Singapore filmmaker. We are pleased to announce that this grant has been given to the successful candidate at the pitching session held in April.
Next SGD10,000 – This will allow us to engage a curator, pay the rent for the venue which can accommodate more than 150 people and pay for publicity collaterals and incidental expenses to be incurred for the  two days of screening.
Final SGD5,000 – Will supplement the travelling budget of the organising committee  in their participation in the regional FFF screenings. We also plan to sponsor the winners of FFF film grants to showcase and present their work in the regional screenings.

Supporter of FFF Singapore
Every bit counts in supporting us in our work. And to show our gratitude, we will send you an e-card as a token of our appreciation!

$50+ Reward
Every year at FFF Singapore, we will have T-shirts of unique designs and colours, related to the theme of the event!

This reward is specifically for the first 100 supporters giving us $50 and above in our fund raising.

T-shirts 2015

$100+ Reward
For supporters contributing $100 and more, beside the T-shirt you will be invited to private screenings of selected films, to be organised separately from the festival.

$500+ Reward
Patron of Freedom FilmFest Singapore

To thank individuals who strongly support this platform, we extend this special award with an invitation to all Function 8’s events, and a free book gift from AGORA Bookvillage.

$1000+ Reward
Advocate of Freedom FilmFest Singapore

To thank individuals who believe in this endeavour to provide independent storyteller, whose stories illuminates people, issues, countries and communities or events in powerful ways, giving others a chance to deepen their understanding of the realities unknown to them, we extend this special invitation to all Function 8 events and  3 free book gifts from AGORA Bookvillage..

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Freedom Film Fest 2015

Welcome to the 13th annual FreedomFilmFest, Malaysia’s leading international human rights film festival. We are proud to present 26 of the best Malaysian, regional and international documentaries. The selected films are thematically related in diverse ways to this year’s theme, “Unseen, Unheard, Untold”.

This year’s theme was chosen in keeping with our mission to give voice to marginalised issues and perspectives. We strongly believe in the power of these stories to challenge conventional views about the different issues and cultures showcased in each of the selected films.

We are also proud to present five FFF produced films from Malaysia and Singapore. As part of our mission to support documentary filmmakers in Malaysia and Singapore we awarded five FFF Film Grants to filmmakers in Malaysia and Singapore. The filmmakers also received production support throughout filming. The FFF Film Grant is a part of the festival’s advocacy for good films and films that do good. But more importantly, we hope to foster a conducive environment for bold socially conscious filmmakers to tell their stories.

This would not have been possible without the strong support of our regional partners and friends who have helped to promote the festival to filmmakers from their countries and facilitated the submission of films to us. To the filmmakers, we admire your passion and dedication to your field, and we will continue to support you through our platform.

To our audience, we know you appreciate good stories, so thank you for your support and participation in FFF 2015. Lastly, a big thank you to all our partners and sponsors, without your support this year’s festival would not be possible.

Anna Har
Festival Director, KOMAS

For more information about FreedomFilmFest 2015
please visit

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


The government we elect will have a profound effect on institutions that are meant to protect the people. An analysis of the death of activism in the Law Society of Singapore in the 1980s by Teo Soh Lung

Function 8's photo.Part 1
In 1986, the Law Society of Singapore met the full wrath of the government. It was accused of meddling in politics and acting as a political pressure group. It received this stern warning from the prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew: “It’s my job as the Prime Minister in charge of the Government of Singapore to put a stop to politicking in professional bodies. If you want to politick, come out.”

Even before 1986 ended, the Law Society suffered the full brunt of the government’s anger. But it did not die lying down. It died standing tall and in the spotlight of the nation. Mr Francis Seow was removed from his seat as President of the Law Society, not by the vote of its members but by a new law enacted by the PAP government.

Some members of the Law Society had openly and secretly blamed Mr Francis Seow and several young lawyers, including me for the “demise” of the Law Society. We were accused of “acting too fast” thus bringing the heavy hand of the government on us.

Such accusations are completely without any basis. The Law Society had died long before 1986. It had failed to “protect and assist the public in Singapore in all matters touching or ancillary or incidental to the law” which was one of the main objectives for its existence. For that matter, it had also failed to protect its members. I recall that when I entered the profession in 1974, I was unhappy that it was only interested in golf competitions. It was not a society that I had envisaged – fighting for the rights of the poor and disadvantaged. It never spoke up against the government’s implementation of unjust policies like the “Stop at Two” population control policy or the discriminatory policy of priority for schools granted to one and two child families. It never spoke up against the Voluntary Sterilisation Act or the groundless enhancement of penalties for crimes and the removal of discretionary powers of our judiciary. The Society was literally as good as dead in the 1970s. It didn’t even speak up for lawyers who were imprisoned without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1977.

The restlessness of lawyers, especially younger lawyers started in the early 1980s. It coincided with the election of Mr J B Jeyaretnam in 1981 and his re-election together with Mr Chiam See Tong in 1984. Awareness of the sorry state of our country was enhanced by the television broadcast of parliamentary debates. For the first time, the lawyers saw the effectiveness of opposition in parliament after 15 years of one party rule.

What then were the so called “political activities” of the Law Society that led the government to take such ruthless actions against it in 1986?

The awakening in early 1980s
The 1980s marked the awakening of lawyers after a period of inactivity in the 1970s. Lawyers were active in the 1950s but somehow lost their activism by the 1970s. It is likely to be due to the waves of arrests under the ISA in that decade and earlier which culminated in the arrests of several lawyers in 1977 who were labelled “Euro communists.

Establishment of the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme
In 1981, a law lecturer, Mr Stanley Yeo, published his study on unrepresented defendants from 1973 to 1980. He concluded that accused persons without legal representation were disadvantaged as they received heavier penalties. Several young lawyers and academics began to discuss if the government could be persuaded to activate Part 2 of the Legal Aid and Advice Act which provides legal aid for criminal cases. This law was enacted in 1955 by the Labour Front government but Part 2 was not put into effect for unknown reasons. They wrote to the Minister of Law. His response was that they were not interested. That being the case, the group of about 12 young lawyers and academics started to research and work on the feasibility of setting up a private scheme for criminal legal aid. They presented a paper on the scheme to the Law Society in 1983 but it was rejected.

Not long after, in 1984, the president of the Law Society talked about the setting up of a criminal legal aid scheme in his Opening of the Legal Year speech. The group then asked the president who he had in mind to establish the scheme. When told that he had the group in mind, they immediately volunteered. The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme was thus born in 1985.

The inertia of the Law Society was evident when drastic amendments were introduced to the Penal Code. The Law Society was silent. The amendments sailed through parliament without any objection from the Law Society in 1984. Lawyers at the criminal bar were shocked with the introduction of minimum sentences for a number of offences without good reason. The government argued that our judges were too lenient and offenders need to be punished more severely so as to reduce crime rate. In addition, the duration for police investigation before appearance in court was extended from 24 hours to 48 hours. Since the Law Society did nothing, 61 lawyers called an extraordinary general meeting to register their objection to the amendments.

At the opening of the legal year in 1985, the president sounded the warning that the Bar was “restless”. On hindsight, I fully agree with him that the Bar was restless but for good reasons. They wanted to see a more active Law Society. There were many lawyers who wanted to contribute to society, knowing that they were living in a privilege world. They wanted to see change in the Society.

Preventive measures to end change
In 1985, the government introduced an amendment to the Constitution of Singapore that would allow it to deprive citizens who have not returned to Singapore for 10 years and more. I was asked by the president of the Society to report on this amendment. Several lawyers and I got together and presented a report stating among many other issues, that it was wrong and against international law to deprive a citizen by birth of his nationality. In all probability the report was submitted to the attorney general. We heard nothing about the representation. Presumably, it was ignored.

A year later, I realised that the new law was targeted at Tan Wah Piow. He was deprived of his Singapore citizenship and unjustly accused of being the leader of the alleged Marxist Conspirators in 1987.

1985 marked the beginning of the enactment of laws which victimise individual citizens. At that time, parliament comprised 77 PAP members and 2 opposition members (Messrs JB Jeyaretnam and Chiam See Tong). Many more such laws were enacted after 1985 and I will elaborate on this later.

By the end of 1985, it was clear to the government that potential “threats” were brewing in the Law Society and elsewhere. Lee Kuan Yew and his colleagues knew that the Society has to be slammed back to its former sleepy days. The election of two lawyers, Messrs J B Jeyaretnam and Chiam See Tong was giving them a headache in parliament and they cannot afford to have more lawyers in parliament who oppose and criticise their policies.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Remembering Lim Chin Siong on Singapore’s National Day

Function 8's photo.Comet in Our Sky, Lim Chin Siong in History (new edition) ed Poh Soo Kai, was launched on Singapore’s National Day in Petaling Jaya. It was a most appropriate day to launch this important book because while we celebrate our country’s 50th birthday, a day on which Singapore received her heartbreaking independence, we remember Lim Chin Siong who opposed merger in 1963. Lim Chin Siong and his party, Barisan Sosialis, foresaw that merger would not work as the terms for merger were unclear and not favourable to Singapore. His party campaigned against merger asking voters to cast blank votes as protest. However after a phoney referendum in late 1962, merger went ahead on 16 Sept 1963 but not before Lim Chin Siong and over a hundred colleagues were arrested and imprisoned without trial in Operation Coldstore on 2 Feb 1963. Two years later, Lim Chin Siong and his party were proven right when Singapore was compelled to leave Malaysia.

The first birthday, 50 years ago was celebrated with a big parade.
Having been proven right, any just government would have released Lim Chin Siong and his colleagues immediately. That was not to be with Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP. They continued to remain in prison, many of them for decades. There was no legitimate reason except to destroy the opposition.

After independence, the PAP did their utmost to undermine, obliterate, distort and destroy the contributions of Lim Chin Siong and his party. They almost succeeded until Melanie Chew published a coffee table book called “Leaders of Singapore” in 1996. It was a book that few could afford as it was priced at about $250. But it contained an excellent interview with Lim Chin Siong. Following that book, “Lee’s Lieutenants” by Lam Peng Er and Kevin YL Tan was published. According to Hong Lysa, it was a chapter in that book that made Tan Jing Quee and K S Jomo decide to respond by putting together a collection of essays on Lim Chin Siong. The first edition of Comet in Our Sky was published in 2001.

The original edition of Comet in Our Sky was launched in Kuala Lumpur and quietly sold in Singapore. It tells a great deal about the political climate in Singapore then. When I read the book in 2001, I did not realise the significance of Operation Coldstore. I was not aware that Operation Coldstore wiped out the opposition in Singapore. It was years later, when talking to Tan Jing Quee and he mentioning Operation Coldstore and the fact that the “cream” of the opposition was imprisoned by Lee Kuan Yew and the effect of that “security exercise” had on the opposition, that I realised the consequence. Subsequently, several books edited by Tan Jing Quee and others as well as meeting survivors of Operation Coldstore like Dr Lim Hock Siew, finally brought home the disastrous effect of Operation Coldstore.

I don’t remember feeling depressed when I first read Comet in Our Sky. But re reading the book now depresses me. I am no longer able to remain detached and uninvolved like historians digging out the past or lawyers fighting the causes of their clients because I have come to know many of the survivors of Operation Coldstore.

Lim Chin SiongTo read about Lim Chin Siong is not only to know his humility, oratorical skill, greatness and courage but also the depth of depravity of Lee Kuan Yew. For his own personal glory and power, Lee carried out grave injustices to his comrades and their families for decades. I cannot fathom the cruelty of the man when he acted as Lim Chin Siong’s lawyer during his imprisonment only to betray him. Lim Chin Siong said in his manuscript which is translated by his brother, Lim Chin Joo that he was kept isolated from the other detainees and was not informed of what happened outside the prison walls.

Comet in Our Sky explains how one man, Lee Kuan Yew, managed with his colleagues, the Tunku and the British to demolish the opposition. It is important for young Singaporeans to read this book and to understand why Singapore is what she is today. We were a vibrant, creative society until Lee Kuan Yew came into power and used unjust but legal means to demolish his political opponents.

Comet in our Sky is a very important book about Singapore. I am grateful to Tan Jing Quee and K S Jomo for publishing this book 14 years ago and Dr Poh Soo Kai for republishing it today after its disappearance for more than a decade.

The new edition of Comet shed further light on Lim Chin Siong with the inclusion of a summary of his manuscript translated from Chinese by his brother Chin Joo, a foreword by Hong Lysa, a chapter by Dr Poh Soo Kai and cartoons by Sonny Liew.

I recommend this book to all Singaporeans.

By Teo Soh Lung

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2015 National Day Musing

waihanWe don’t have to be someone important to give a National Day message. Anyone can give a message to the nation. Of course, whether people receive your message, read it, think about what you have said – that’s not for you to control.

An elderly person said that it is wrong to say that Singapore is celebrating 50 years of nation building; it should be 50 years of independence. In Chinese, it shouldn’t be 建国五十周年, but 独立五十周年.

One might venture to say, flying in the face of all the celebratory mood, 败国五十周年, 50 years since the destruction of a nation – the death of Malaysia as it was supposed to be, with Singapore an integral part of peninsular Malaya. Just look at the shape of Singapore’s northern coastline and Johor’s southern coastline, the two really fit well like jigsaw pieces!
What caused the split 50 years ago?

One factor in my understanding of history, is the clash of personalities between leaders of the Federal government and those of Singapore. Pride, impatience, I’m-smarter-than-you attitude.

Therein the purpose of this message: now that we have lost that towering dominant personality in our country, we no longer need to look over our shoulders to see if papa is pleased with our performance. We should level the playing field of politics and let the best men/women win. No one party has a monopoly on looking after the welfare of the country and her citizens. We should allow anyone with pure heart, good ideas and willingness to sacrifice, come forward and serve.

Utopian? I will not settle for anything less.

By Chan Wai Han

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


poster 1By Teo Soh Lung
(This article was written shortly after the staging of Square Moon on 20 and 21 Dec 2013. But it was not published at that time. It is now published with minor editing.)

Those of you who attended the opening night of Square Moon on Friday, 20 Dec 2013 at 8 pm at the University Cultural Centre Theatre may have noticed that there were rows and rows of good stall seats that were left unoccupied before the intermission. You may wonder why the organiser had been so irresponsible as to advise as early as November, that stall seats for the opening night were “sold out”. Indeed a friend who had to sit in the upper circle because she could not purchase a stall seat was so unhappy that she came to see me at intermission to complain.

Let me, as the person in charge of ticketing explain.

On the opening night, there was a musical show at the adjoining Concert Hall which shared the same lobby as the theatre where Square Moon was staged. There was a bit of confusion at both entrances. Many who were attending the musical made enquiries at our front desk. A check near opening time revealed many empty seats in the Theatre. Some of us thought that our patrons were late because of the rain and traffic jam at the Pan Island Expressway. We also thought that they got lost in the campus as there were construction works around the Theatre. We were anxious but did not suspect anything amiss.
The play began a little late because the hall was not filled.

Sometime during the show, I spoke to two staff members of our ticketing agent. They were waiting for two patrons to exchange tickets even before the show began. Apparently, there was a computer glitch and two tickets were wrongly issued and had to be exchanged. Poor girls, they waited without dinner. Well into the play, I asked them if if I could assist in any way. They showed me a list of 20 tickets purchased by a person called “Chen Xiao Chun”. He or she had paid $1000 cash for the tickets at Orchard Ticket Q. They had to collect and exchange one ticket with Chen or X as I shall refer to him or her.


I immediately realise that the tickets were booked in a block. I borrowed the list and started to copy down the seat numbers when my young friend who was in charge of ticket collection exclaimed that “Chen Xiao Chun” had not collected an envelope of tickets. We opened the envelope and lo and behold, there were 20 tickets! I immediately realise that someone had played a dirty trick on us.

To confirm the foul play, I had another list of 14 tickets purchased at student concession rate by one “Mervyn”. One ticket was to be exchanged with this purchaser but no one turned up. “Mervyn” had paid $599.20 in cash at the Ang Mo Kio ticket outlet.
Nothing could have been more upsetting for me that evening than the realisation that something had truly gone wrong. Our worst fear that there could be last minute sabotage of the show became a reality.

At interval time, Peter Sau, the director asked me why the theatre was not full when I had repeatedly assured him and the cast that we had a full house for the opening night! Even before the curtain opened, Function 8 members and I had gone backstage to assure the actors that the house was full. I responded that the tickets had been purchased by “X” and he did not show up. Peter was quick to suggest, “get the circle seats down”. We did immediately. Two members, Tee Seng and Yit Leng with natural activist disposition, ran up the stairs to the tell the guests to move to the stall seats. Very soon, the patrons from the upper circle seats happily moved down to the stall seats and the stalls were almost filled after intermission. Our swift reaction in ushering and ensuring this was quite commendable!

Thirty-four seats costing $1,599.20 were not all that “X” spent. Subsequent investigations revealed that at least a total of 95 stall tickets costing more than $4,600 were bought in cash at outlets, only to be left unoccupied on the opening night. Fortunately, except for six tickets which were suspect, this trick did not happen in the matinee and final show the following day.

Investigations also revealed that the telephone numbers of the twelve people who purchased the 95 tickets for 20 Dec and 1 person who bought for the evening show on 21 Dec were fictitious. In one case, I asked “Marvin” who picked up the phone, if he went to see Square Moon. He asked “Square Moo?” I repeated my question and he said: “No, I don’t know anything.” One man who answered “Michelle Siah’s” number was obviously not alone. There were background voices. To my question if there was a “Michelle Siah”, he said, “I don’t know.” He repeated “I don’t know” and put down the phone. Three people shared the same email account as Michelle Siah.

Ninety-five tickets were purchased over three days and well before our publicity blitz for Square Moon. The first purchase of 16 tickets were done four days after tickets for Square Moon were made available to the public on the ticketing agent’s blog. Another 45 were purchased the next day and 34 were bought three days after.

What was the intention of “X” and his or her colleagues in doing what they did? I can think of three reasons:

(a) To terrify and demoralise the director and actors who so bravely took on the play
for a token fee.
(b) To embarrass the playwright, Wong Souk Yee who is a member of Function 8.
(c) To embarrass and terrify Function 8 which was one of the sponsors and played a
key role in the production, our first and only foray into play production to date.

If the above are the reasons, “X” and his colleagues have failed miserably. The actors took the one-third empty hall in their stride and gave their best. They received loud and appreciative applause at the end of the show. The work of X and his colleagues can only damage their own reputation. Why did they waste thousands of dollars in this manner?
I hope the Singapore theatre scene is not what we at Function 8 have encountered. Giving free tickets to MDA does not rule out mischief by trouble makers.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book Review by Wu Yi – Beyond the Blue Gate, Recollections of a Political Prisoner by Teo Soh Lung (Chinese Edition)

Beyond the Blue Gate by Teo Soh Lung Chinese Edn

“张素兰的回忆录” — 伍 依

我几乎一口气读完厚达396页的张素兰回忆录《在蓝色栅门的后面——一个政治犯的回忆纪实》的中译本。译者林康,译笔臻于完美,应该是驾驭中文能力 强,吃透英文原著使然。张素兰的文笔极好,文学般的叙述,让我读懂了新加坡的法律。全书以法律贯穿,生动地描述了张素兰与新加坡司法缠斗的始末,诗文俱 佳,精彩绝伦,让人叫绝。读完全书,脑海里出现了白娘子与法海和尚各自使尽“法”宝无休止的缠斗,你来我往,最终落败下来,被法海和尚借“佛法”将白娘子 收在缽中,镇於雷峰塔下,拆散了许仙与白娘子的好姻缘,粉碎了张素兰及其伙伴“美化”新加坡司法的美梦。

张素兰,一个女律师,开了一家律师事务所;新加坡律师公会理事;陈华彪的代表律师,协助他处理公民权事;曾经协助工人党竞选活动;芽笼天主教中 心义工,帮忙外来劳工学习英语,为外来劳工、菲律宾女佣、前吸毒者和前罪犯提供免费法律咨询服务;在人民行动党开办的补习班教导小学六年级的学生,在租屋 楼下的空地上为学生补习;认识远在比利时工作的林发财;在办事处常和朋友聚会;在国会特选委员会审议法律专业(修正)法案时长时间被李光耀追问的证人之 一;阅读列宁、斯大林的著作和毛泽东诗词;新加坡女律师公会义务律师;有两年在女皇镇民众联络所提供法律咨询服务;参与新加坡律师公会推行刑事案法律援助 计划的组织工作,针对1985年修改宪法关于公民权部分条规,授权政府褫夺连续10年或以上不在境内的新加坡人的公民权一事提呈立法评议意见;新加坡律师 公会立法委员会(民事)——(特别任务)小组组长,先后针对1986年保障与印刷品(修正)法案和1986年法律专业(修正)法案提呈立法评议意见。 1987年5月21日被内部安全局逮捕,罪名是“参与旨在颠覆新加坡现行社会与政治制度的马克思主义阴谋,使用共产主义统一战线策略,意图在此建立一个马 克思主义国家”,“危害了新加坡的国家安全”。1987年9月26日有条件获释。获释后与八名被扣者同伴联名发表声明,否认内安局的指控,1988年4月 18日再度被捕,1990年6月1日获释。

根据张素兰的回忆录叙述,她与她的伙伴就是一群具有正义感,富有爱心,关心弱势群体的公民,运用宪法赋予公民的权利和义务,进行合法的活动,可 说是一等良民。任何体制的政权,应该都欢迎治下的人民都具有这些善良人的品质,“我只是一个不满政府某些政策和法律的普通公民。我没有参与任何推翻政府的 计划,更不必说暴力斗争了。我甚至谈不上是个异议分子,或参与相关活动的人。”(《张素兰回忆录》第339页)唯独行动党政权,却把一等良民的张素兰及其 伙伴视为洪水猛兽,把他们推向自己的对立面,何等愚蠢荒谬!

究其原因,是在萧添寿担任新加坡律师公会时,对行动党政权的一些法律修正提出评议意见,触动了行动党的敏感神经,直白的说,是触动了行动党老大 李光耀的敏感神经,促使他不顾同僚的反对,毅然采取所谓“光谱行动”,以莫须有的“马克思主义阴谋”逮捕了张素兰及其同伴,连同一度充当李光耀打手的萧添 寿也不能幸免。

强权政治,从希特勒到蒋介石,只信奉一个老大,绝对没有什么像梁山水泊的聚义厅排排座的平等,这是由老大的权力欲和极端意识的本性所天然限定 的。站在历史的大视角来看,迫害被认为持有异议的人,并不是任何私人恩怨能左右独裁者的主观判断。共产党和左翼党团都对行动党有恩,只因政见不同,就猛下 毒手;张素兰及其伙伴只因协助在野党,对行动党制定的法律提出评议,就不顾一切地加以迫害,独裁者决不可能认识到这是对历史的犯罪,对自己人品的贬低。

张素兰和其同伴大多是高级知识分子,有些是律师,懂得法律,就天真地要以法律作为保护盾牌来保护自己,替自己辩白。没完没了的官司,花尽了钱 财,关闭了自己的律师事务所,请女皇律师,代表律师费尽了一切可以使用的法律手段,也无法把张素兰及其伙伴从魔窟中解救出来。即使高等法庭宣判当庭释放, 一走出法庭就被重新逮捕,当政者可不管什么“藐视法庭”,否定自己制定的法律条文,尽失法律的尊严,也可以立马有针对性地在国会修正自己制定的法令,堵塞 人们用法律来保护自己的路径。最不守法的人,一副为了所谓国家安全,道貌岸然地照样高高在上,捧着自个的臭脚陶醉其中。强权制定的法律没有任何客观性,完 全是当今社会强者制定的法律,由强者的主观意志所决定,是彻头彻尾的真正人治。法律不讲道德,必然成为作恶的工具,

内部安全局就像希特勒的盖世太保,东条英机的宪兵部,蒋介石的军统和中统,具有无上的权力,只听从老大的意旨,什么法律、人道、人性在他们眼中 都是扯蛋!他们延续英殖民主义者的衣钵,都是千年的狐狸,跟他们玩什么聊斋?小娘子与老狐狸制定的游戏规则缠斗,只能如白娘子一样,被收在土钵里,压在雷 峰塔下,忍受长期单独监禁的煎熬,这是违背天道立法的必然结果。

如果一个政权为了生存,连子民爱父母爱子女的机会都被剥夺了,怎么可能指望这个政权去为人民服务?怎么可能指望他能用道德的标准来衡量别人的价 值?所以说:行动党政权是一种让统治集团人性扭曲的政权。他们的智慧很大,道德血液却欠缺,忽略了是否崇高。智慧再大,不崇高,所有智慧都是卑鄙的智慧, 那也是入不了佛门的。他们这样做无异于挥刀自宫。

张素兰及其伙伴是可敬的人,爱父母,爱兄弟姐妹,爱朋友,关怀弱势群体,子规啼血,比干剖心。小荷才露尖尖角呢,想为不完美的社会修修补补,乐 滋滋地想尽一尽做为一个公民的责任,就遭遇到意想不到的不幸,他们的天真想法和现实之间比牛郎与织女相隔的天河还要遥远。他们第一次出狱后,又勇敢地联名 发表声明,驳斥内安局和行动党精英对他们无休止的诬蔑和指控,导致再度被捕和逃亡。他们并不因为第一次被捕就鞋子里面长茅草——慌(荒)了脚,就此默默忍 受当政者的诬蔑和诽谤,而是勇敢地站起来战斗。毛泽东评价鲁迅说:“鲁迅的骨头是最硬的,他没有丝毫的奴颜媚骨,这是殖民地和半殖民地人民最可宝贵的性 格。”(《新民主主义论》)张素兰及其伙伴就有这种“殖民地和半殖民地人民最可宝贵的性格”,虽有小资产阶级知识分子的软弱性,在内安局高举免战牌,要张 素兰“收回上诉和撤销索偿申请”就予以释放下,最终作了妥协出狱。但他们毕竟敢于站起来抗争,敢于出版回忆录来写出真相,让人们从中可以透彻看穿行动党老 大的心态,和内部安全局的真面目,怎么对待政治犯(张素兰及其伙伴压根儿就不是因政治被捕),怎么出尔反尔,不兑现承诺,背后隐藏着的重大玄机,耍尽各种 肮脏手段要政治犯低下高贵的头颅。

我们高度肯定张素兰及其伙伴的韧性战斗和其历史意义。虽然在强势面前,风筝飘飞得再高,也挣脱不了放风筝人手中紧拽着的那根细线。就如在南极, 再努力,也烧不开一壶水一样。这就是张素兰及其伙伴无可奈其何的结果。但我们坚信,不管是希特勒的盖世太保,东条英机的宪兵部,蒋介石的军统中统,统统都 在浩浩荡荡的历史大潮中土崩瓦解,灰飞烟灭!希特勒自杀,东条英机被送上绞刑架,蒋介石凄凄惶惶地被驱赶到小岛上郁郁而终!有人虽然逃脱了其先行者的可耻 命运,极尽哀荣,但历史终究会作出正义的评判!历史是一面镜子,历史是教科书,历史是最公正无私的判官和孜孜不倦的老师。让历史去书写吧!不管是哪一种视 角,历史都不能割断,我们永远处于历史与未来之间。

马克思曾经指出,有的历史人物死得早是一种幸运,有的历史人物死得晚是一种不幸。李光耀如果在上世纪五十年代末就归西,他可是名声响亮的反殖英 雄,这是他的“幸运”,青史留名;而他竟然活到二十一世纪,是他摧残民族教育和残害左翼人士,迫害像原本不是敌人,对行动党政权毫无威胁的张素兰及其伙伴 这样的群体,连他的同僚都因此愤而辞职不干之后才死去,这是他的“不幸”,落得个万世骂名。



Beyond the Blue Gate

Book Review by Wu Yi,
Translated by Chin Wey Tze

The book may be 396 pages long, but due to the superb translation skills of Lin Kang, his powerful command of both the Chinese and the English language, I finished the book in one uninterrupted sitting.

Teo Soh Lung writes beautifully. Her words flow in a scholarly fashion interwoven with legal knowledge enabling me to understand Singapore laws. Her lively description of battles with the judicial system in Singapore is sprinkled with some great poems making the book a fantastic read. Upon finishing the book, the imagery of the white snake, Madam Bai Suzhen (白娘子), struggling with the Buddhist monk, Fa Hai (法海和尚) from the Chinese folktale “Legend of the Madam White Snake” (《白蛇传说》) came to mind. After several rounds of skilful and tactical manouevres, Madam Bai lost to the vindictive and jealous monk Fa Hai. She was caught and imprisoned in Leifeng Pagoda and her marriage with Xu Xian ruined. Likewise, Soh Lung and her friends’ dream of making Singapore a better country was destroyed.

Who is Soh Lung and what has she done?

Teo Soh Lung is a woman lawyer who ran her own law firm. She is a Council member of the Law Society of Singapore; she acted for Tan Wah Piow, in his fight to retain his citizenship; she assisted the Workers’ Party in election campaigns; she is a volunteer at the Geylang Catholic Centre (now defunct), she taught English to foreign workers; she provided free legal service to foreign workers, Filipino domestic workers, former drug and other offenders; she gave tuition to primary six students at a PAP community centre and in the void deck of HDB flats; she volunteered at the Singapore Association of Women Lawyers and gave two years of free legal advice at Queenstown Community Centre; she is a founding member of the criminal legal aid scheme; she is the head of Legislation Committee (Civil) – (Special Assignment); criticized The Newspaper & Printing Presses Amendment Bill, 1986 and Legal Profession Amendment Bill, 1986. As a witness, she was grilled by Lee Kuan Yew at the Select Committee hearing on the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill.

She is a friend of Paul Lim who worked in Belgium; hosted gatherings for friends at her office; she reads the poems of Mao Tze Tong

On 21 May 1987, she was imprisoned by the Internal Security Department – for being “ involved in a Marxist conspiracy to subvert the existing social and political system in Singapore, using communist united front tactics, with a view to establishing a Marxist state.” She was conditionally released on 26 Sep 1987. After release, she together with eight other fellow ex-detainees, issued a statement, denying the allegations of the government. For that she was imprisoned again on 19 Apr 1988 and, released on 1 Jun 1990.

According to Teo Soh Lung’s recollections, she and her fellow detainees cared for the marginalised segments of society; they were responsible citizens possessing a sense of justice and fair-play. Their activities were legal and constitutional. Governments of any system, would have welcome such citizens, possessing such caring qualities. Instead the monopolistic ruling party viewed these citizens as a destructive flood, as savage beasts, treating them as government’s opponents. How ridiculous and absurd!

In Soh Lung’s own words: “I was an ordinary citizen who was unhappy with some of the government policies and laws, I was not involved in any organized plan to overthrow the government by any means, let alone by violent means. I was not even a dissident or an activist.” (Page 339, Beyond the Blue Gate)

Ultimately, it was Francis Seow, President of the Law Society of Singapore, who touched the raw nerves of the PAP supreme leader, Lee Kuan Yew. Lee ignored the opposition of his party men, decisively launched “Operation Spectrum”, fabricated a “Marxist Conspiracy” and detained Soh Lung and her fellow friends and associates. Even Francis Seow who was once Lee Kuan Yew’s right hand man could not escape the long arms of the of the ISA (Internal Security Act).

Authoritarian governments, from Hitler to Chiang Kai Shek, believed in having just one leader. They can never visualize the 108 heroes told in the Chinese classic, “Water Margin”, who treated each other as equals, sitting side-by-side at Liangshan and having open discussions. Such authoritarianism is shaped by the leader’s mentality of superiority. From the macro historical point of view, the suppression of dissidents is always a dictator’s natural instinct. Communists and left-wing activist groups were one time allies of the PAP, making valuable contributions to the party. But due to political differences, they were subjected to brutal and violent treatment. Soh Lung and her fellow detainees were only helping the opposition party, and voicing disagreement on a few laws. But the consequence of their action was ruthless suppression. Dictators never realize that such suppression is a historical crime and through such crimes they belittle only themselves.

Soh Lung and her fellow detainees were mainly professionals and intellectuals, some were lawyers, understanding laws, instinctively and naively believed that laws can be used to protect and defend themselves. Endless lawsuits, incurring huge expenses, closing one’s law firm, engaging the queen’s counsel, lawyers, and utilizing all legal means, all came to nought. Even when the Court of Appeal ordered that they should be released and when they walked out of prison, they were re-detained instantly. The ruling party was obviously guilty of “contempt of court” by ignoring their own laws. They humiliated the judges. They amended their own laws for self-serving interests, creating obstacles for people who use laws to protect themselves. They are the greatest opponent to their own laws, constantly undermining judicial authority. In the name of national security, they behaved as sanctimonious hypocrites who are above the law. They were absolutely carried away by their deceptive tactics. Laws enacted by authoritarian government lack objectivity, and serve exclusively the powers that be. It is the rule of sheer power. There is no rule of law. When there is no morality in laws, laws naturally become the tools of those who believe in doing evil.

The Internal Security Department acts like the gestapo of Hitler, the Imperial Japanese Army of Hideki Tojyo, the Special Service Section and the Bureau of Investigation and Statistics of Chiang Kai Shek. They possess great power, and follow the wishes of the leader. Laws, compassion and human values have no meaning for them! They do not understand that the purpose of laws should be for the protection and not the persecution of people. Such leaders continue to serve the colonial master. They are the immortal foxes, not unlike the characters in “Liaozhai” — the little woman who attempted to make the rules of the games with the old man, can only end up like Madam “Bai Suzhen”, trapped by the monk and imprisoned in Leifeng Pagoda suffering long-term solitary confinement. This is the consequence of going against the mandate from the heaven.
If for the sake of preserving power, the elites could sacrifice the filial piety of children, how can we expect them to serve the people? How can we expect them to assess human values using moral yardsticks? The PAP government ruling power is therefore a regime that distorts human value. They are full of wisdom, but lack the moral blood cells. They possess despicable wisdom, that cannot be accepted by the teachings of the Buddha. Such acts are as good as self-castration.
Soh Lung and her fellow detainees are respectable and filial. They possess that love for siblings and friends and care for the marginalized. They are like the cuckoo which weeps till blood flows (子规啼血, from Tang poem); or like Bigan who lost his heart (比干剖心, as in folktale Fengshen Bang and translated as The Investiture of the Gods); or like young lotus merely budding, eager to reform the imperfect society, enthusiastically fulfilling their social responsibility; but they met with such unthinkable misfortunes.

The naivety of the detainees then and their failure to understand the crude reality of how the laws could be used against them seems more far-fetched and incredible than the separation by the Milky Way in Niu Lang (牛郎The Cowhand) and the 7th daughter of the Emperor, Weaving Maid (织女,A Chinese legend) . When they were first released, they bravely signed a joint statement, refuting the incessant false allegations of the ISD and the PAP elites. That caused their loss of freedom again and one went into exile. They did not remain silent just because they were arrested. They did not swallow the slander and defamation. They boldly stood up and fought for their rights and dignity. Mao Tze Tong once praised Lu Xun: “Lu Xun was a man of unyielding integrity, free from all sycophancy or obsequiousness; this quality is invaluable among colonial and semi-colonial peoples” (“On New Democracy”). Soh Lung and her fellow detainees possess integrity, though she has the weakness of a petty-bourgeois intellectual. When ISD “demanded” that she withdrew all lawsuits as a final condition for her release, she compromised. But they had struggled, fought, dare to publish recollections to reveal the truths, allow people to see through the mentality of the ‘big leader’, and the true colour of the ISD, and how they treated political detainees (they claimed that Soh Lung and her fellow detainees were not detained because of political reasons), how they went back on their words and never kept their promises. This was carried out, using all dirty tricks and means to force the political detainees to give up their dignity and to back down.

We admire the historical values of their mighty fighting spirit. Of course facing such strong and adverse circumstances, no matter how high the kites fly, they cannot loosen themselves from the hands of the people who fly the kites. As in the South Poles, no matter how hard one tries, water can never be boiled. This is the undesirable consequence they faced. But we firmly believe, be it Hitler’s gestapo, Imperial Japanese Army of Hideki Tojyo, the Special Service Section of Chiang Kai Shek, they will all crumble with the historical tides, vanishing and turning into dust! Hitler committed suicide, Hideki Tojyo was executed by hanging, Chiang Kai Shek was driven to a small island to lead a depressing life! But someone had escaped such a shameful fate, enjoying eternal glory. Yet history will eventually give a fair assessment! History is a mirror, history is a text book, history is the fairest judge and a diligent teacher. Let history tell all! Regardless of which perspectives, will reveal the truth. We are forever living in between history and the future.

Marx once said: it is a blessing for some historical figures if they die early. It can be a misfortune for those who die old. If only Lee Kuan Yew had died in the 1950s, he could be a famous anti-colonial hero. That would be his “luck”, to be crowned with eternal glory; however he lived till the twenty-first century. By then he had destroyed vernacular education, oppressed the left-wing activists, and persecuted those who were originally not his enemies. Soh Lung and her fellow detainees were no threat at all to the PAP. Even his colleagues were angry and resigned from their jobs before he died. This is Lee’s misfortune. He earned himself eternal infamy.

Heavenly justice (天理) is the highest order of law.

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment