The awakening in early 1980s
Establishment of the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme
Preventive measures to end change
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.
To 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
We 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
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.
Book Review by Wu Yi – Beyond the Blue Gate, Recollections of a Political Prisoner by Teo Soh Lung (Chinese Edition)
“张素兰的回忆录” — 伍 依 http://www.nandazhan.com/zh/wzhangsulan.htm
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。
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.
The May 13 Generation
The day is 2 June 1954. About 800 Chinese middle school students occupy Chinese High School (renamed Hwa Chong Institution in 2005) on Bukit Timah Road. The students are fighting for exemption for 125 fellow students who refuse to register for National Service under the British colonial government as they have not yet completed their studies. The 20-minute film depicts the three-week occupation of the school which ends on a victorious note for the students after the Ministry of Defence agrees to postpone the enlistment of all students of call-up age.
The polished production is one of Jason Soo’s first forays into the exhilarating yet hazardous world of filmmaking. It is an ambitious project because with a small budget, the director has to paint a broad historical sweep of an important period of Singapore’s political development, whose impact reverberates throughout Singapore’s post-independent days.
Soo decided to shine the light on the daily activities of the students during those three momentous weeks: singing, classroom learning and drama performance. He succeeds, without sentimentalism, in exuding the youthful passion and idealism of the middle school students in colonial Singapore who were fighting for not only exemption from National Service but also the larger goal of independence, though it was not articulated as such in the film. To a large extent, the young but experienced cast helps to endear the audience to the film even though many of the actors had little knowledge of the Chinese middle school student movement before the casting auditions.
As the film is essentially a mood piece, the audience is left to piece together the wider context of the Occupy Chinese High episode. This reviewer thinks that the scriptwriter/director could have selected a set piece that might better ignite the spirit of the time. An example would be a late-night discussion that turns into a fierce argument among the student leaders in face of the tactical as well as existential manoeuvrings with family, the school board of directors, agent provocateurs and the omnipresent police. This scenario could draw out the hopes and fears, desires and apprehensions of the characters. Such a scene might work better thematically and dramatically than the comic re-enactment of the court trial of the four students charged for protesting outside the Governor’s House against national conscription.
The 21-day occupation of Chinese High in 1954 was a precursor to the resuscitation of the left-wing student and trade movements that were clamped down with the imposition of the Emergency in 1948. The film, however, only hints at the pivotal role played by the Chinese middle school students in the subsequent formation of the then left-wing People’s Action Party (PAP) in November that year and the party’s resounding victory in the 1959 general election. Similarly, the film darkly alludes to the betrayal by the Lee Kuan Yew-led PAP of its socialist democratic cause, with the ending title: The monkeys departed. The wolves are here …
It is hoped that The May 13 Generation has whetted the audience’s appetite for a full-length feature film that gives another reading of our anti-colonial history which has often been described ad nauseum in the official narrative as a “fight against the Communists”.
The short film could not have been screened at a more appropriate time. This year, 2014, marks the 60th anniversary of the 1954 students’ protest against national conscription and the subsequent occupation of Chung Cheng High and then Chinese High. The presentation of The May 13 Generation at the Freedom Film Festival in November also coincided with the intrepid students and residents of Hong Kong occupying Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. The starkness of the comparison cannot be lost on even the most casual of observers. That we have only something that happened 60 years ago to show for is a sad reminder of how effectively the PAP government has sapped away our spirit and replaced it with only material yearnings.
Lessons in Dissent
Premiered in April 2014, Lessons in Dissent gains currency once more in recent months due to the headline-grabbing 75-day (at the time of writing) occupation of business districts in Hong Kong, led by students from universities and high schools. The 97-minute documentary juxtaposes the words and deeds of two young activists: Joshua Wong and Ma Jai. Both are in their teens and are passionate about their cause to fight for greater democracy in Hong Kong. The similarities end there.
Joshua Wong’s spunky protest against the Moral and National Education curriculum in 2012 has catapulted him to the international limelight as well as earned him the odium from the Chinese government. The Occupy movement to fight for genuine universal suffrage has put the Scholarism leader on the cover of Time magazine while at the same time got him labelled as an “extremist” by China’s state-run media.
In contrast, Ma Jai quit school to devote his young life to the work of the left-wing League of Social Democrats (LSD). The self-effacing Ma toils behind the scenes in social movements against issues that affect the lives of ordinary Hong Kong people. His quiet persistence sees him in protests against the government’s plan in 2009 to build a high-speed railway line to mainland China; the annual June 4th march to the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR; campaigns against small-circle election of the Chief Executive; the anti-Moral and National Education movement; and in the 2012 Legislative Council election campaign for LSD candidate, Avery Ng.
The most obvious lesson for activists in the audience to take away is to have the mainstream media on your side. Ma notes that Wong shot to prominence when he was interviewed by the media as the convenor of Scholarism, and his answers were logical and well structured. The interview went viral on Youtube, receiving over 170,000 views in seven days. Social media adds impetus to Hong Kong’s free-wheeling mainstream media . Scholarism was formed during the proposal to implement the Moral and National Education programme in secondary schools. Students met on Facebook and decided to do something.
Ma observes that Wong’s way in civil society is to become famous through the mainstream media so that people would listen to what he says. Wong himself is only too conscious of his exalted status as the voice of a generation. ” I hope people can get from my words and actions the meaning of perseverance. That everyone can care about society and be a true citizen of society.”
While Ma does not disagree with Wong’s approach, he argues that the real battle is to develop a mature and politicised civil society and not events like the protest outside the Government HQ that attracted 100,000 people to call for the withdrawal of the Moral and National Education curriculum.
“They were waiting for the next Joshua Wong to lead them. If there is no increase of awareness about society, then, I don’t think it means much.”
Another lesson the film seems to advocate is that you can participate in a civil disobedience movement in a peaceful, rational and non-violent manner. Every year, the LSD has taken part in the candlelight vigil for victims of the June 4th Tiananmen massacre until they think that mourning for the dead could not achieve much and liken it to consumption of June 4th feelings. They decide to do more and that is when Ma and Avery Ng lead a march without a police permit to the Liaison Office to demand that the Chinese government account for its action. They reckon that the law protects the status quo and prevents progress, and as such is not worth respecting.
“The point of activism is promotion, education and raising awareness. It is the process of being politicised,” Ma says in the film. He adds prophetically, “More Hong Kong people are ready to accept more radical approaches such as pushing the barricades or blocking the road.”
Lessons in Dissent tries to provide a smorgasbord of maxims of organising social movements. Which ones to pick depends on your own sensibilities and vision for society.
Wukan, the Flame of Democracy
Wukan, the Flame of Democracy sounds the warning bell that democracy is no guarantee of social justice. But unlike the aftermath we see of the Arab Spring where free elections ushered in more or less old wine in new bottle, Wukan shows us that while the struggle for democracy is a long and hard one, the road to righting the wrongs suffered under the old regime is even longer and harder.
Singapore’s filmmaking duo, James Leong and Lynn Lee, made this 97-minute documentary about how the villagers of Wukan, a village in the Chinese province of Guangdong, expel their corrupt local Communist government and elect their own village committee, an exploit not seen for over four decades. Weeks of uprising and the death of an activist leader, Xue Jinbo, under police custody, has led to the victory of the people.
After the new village committee comes into office in an election watched by the media from across the globe, it finds itself staring into the dark abyss left behind by the old committee who have sold off extensive land in Wukan without a cent from the proceeds returned to the villagers. The village chief and his committee members not only have to recover the land sold, but also take care of daily municipal matters such as clearing rubbish, mediating disputes, securing water and electricity supplies, implementing birth control and settling problems with the fishing industry.
Three months after the historic elections, the committee faces increasing pressure from the villagers who are losing their patience with the new committee for failing to get back their land. The villagers carry out protests and a road blockade to force the local and county governments to resolve their land woes. The film appears to be sympathetic to the village committee and shows the villagers to be concerned only about their land and little else. The village chief laments, “The provincial government has been working hard, but nobody knows how we can meet the demands of the villagers.”
The daily taunting from the villagers soon produces its first casualty. Zhuang Liehong, who feels that he has not lived up to the expectations of the villagers who elected him some months back, resigns from the village committee. The next one to follow is Zhang Jiancheng. He sighs, “The pressure is too much. The villagers’ resentment has only increased as days pass. It’s internal unity and our mental health that we are worried about.” However, a few days later, Jiancheng decides to carry on the struggle and bear with the strain.
“I hope there will not be any more resignation, especially since it was the first popular election in Wukan that brought us to power, and the whole world knows about us. If we resign, we will affect the morale of society at large. The flame of democracy has been lit; people will be disappointed with Wukan if we extinguish it.”
Though the film ends on a somewhat sombre note, it is a timely reminder that in the euphoria of a just victory, it is easy to forget that the gargantuan task of rebuilding society has only begun. Many sceptics in Singapore often ask, if the opposition is to form the next government, whether they will be able to run the country. My response to that is when that day comes, I hope Singaporeans will step up to the plate and play their part in active citizenry and not be like the villagers in Wukan who let their self interest overwhelm other things that matter as well.
By Wong Souk Yee
Speech of Dr Poh Soo Kai delivered at the lunch commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the May 13, 1954 Student Movement
Translation of speech by Mr Lim Pai
Selamat petang。中午好。Good-day。首先，让我借这个机会，感谢今天筹办这个聚会的两个公民团体，“尊严”（Maruah）和“第八功能”（Function 8）。1954年5月13日，这个深具历史意义的日子，今天正好满六十周年。
1954年5月13日，是一个标志性的日子。它是激发新加坡人民重新投身争取祖国独立运动的一个分水岭。我们应该记得，1954年新加坡还是个殖民地；二 战后新加坡和马来亚半岛人民争取独立的呐喊，随着英殖民当局在1948年宣布紧急状态进而采取蛮横镇压措施，被强力压抑下来。目前针对巴东卡里英军屠杀平 民恶行的控诉，是那一段黑暗岁月的一个严酷的提醒。然而，1954年5月13日的学生运动，改变了这一切，改变了新加坡。人民重新奋起，开展要求摆脱英殖 民统治，争取独立的斗争。
1954年4月，也就是这一天的一个月前，英殖民政府宣布对新加坡男性青年实行国民服役征召制（national service conscription ）。马来亚大学（即后来的新加坡大学）社会主义俱乐部在当年5月10日出版的会刊《华惹》（Fajar）上发表评论文章，指出我们不明白“国民” （national）到底是什么意思，因为我们还是个殖民地；英国当局既然不认为我们有足够条件可以管理自己，为什么却认为我们可以为他们参战，为他们牺 牲性命。
新加坡华校中学生，是受这条新法规影响最大的一群，因为他们绝大多数都是相关年龄层的青年。他们作出合于情理、合乎逻辑的决定，向英国派驻新加坡的总督请 愿，要求豁免国民服役。在1954年5月13日这决定性的当天，八名学生代表到总督府去递交请愿书。众多其他学生为支持他们的代表，也集体上街。学生们沿 着里峇峇利路和克里门梭道（River Valley Road /Clemenceau Avenue）两旁列队，队伍一直排到总督府。上载到网上影像媒体YouTube的视频，可以证明学生集会的和平性质。尽管如此，他们却面对持警棍、拿盾 牌的英殖民地警察的攻击。
1954年这重要的年头，还发生《华惹》编辑因5月10日出版的刊物获罪，5月28日在煽动罪名下被捕的事件。煽动是非常严重的罪行，竟被用来指控这些强 调爱国主义和坚持编辑自主立场的青年。一个记录在案的原因是，警方在搜查华校中学生的物品时，发现了好几本《华惹》，因此错误推断我们这些《华惹》同人是 华文中学学生513抗议行动的幕后黑手。我们不是幕后黑手，但我们《华惹》同人和马大社会主义俱乐部确实全力支持华校中学生的行动。当他们在华侨中学校园 集中时，我们也以泛马学联会员的身份到现场去，公开展示学生们的团结一致。英殖民当局依仗统治强势无理对付学生，恰恰促成了英校和华校学生的大团结。
在煽动罪的诉讼中，英女皇律师布里特（D.N. Pritt）为我们辩护，我们最终被判无罪释放。这位英女皇律师素以严厉批判殖民主义，代表殖民地人民在法庭上和英帝国主义者斗争而享有盛誉。华文中学学 生因此决定通过在《华惹》案中担任助理律师的哈里李光耀，接洽布里特为他们辩护。如事前预料般，官司没有打赢。然而，哈里李却因此利用这个机会和华校中学 生建立了联系。
1954年11月1日，詹密星（Jamit Singh）参加新加坡海港局雇员联合会，成为它的受薪秘书。詹密星也是马大社会主义俱乐部的会员。1955年5月1日，詹密星领导新加坡海港局雇员联合 会的白领工人罢工，为期67天的工业行动最终取得胜利。詹密星成了英雄。他立场坚定地为工会会员要求合理工资，在海港局闸门前和重要政府机关外面部署了纠 察队，以争取社会公众的关注。海港局白领工人的行动与胜利，鼓舞了该局的蓝领工友，纷纷要求参加詹密星的工会。他们不肯再要一个由资方设立和控制的工会来 代表他们。詹密星后来把海港局相关的若干小型工会合并，组成会员达一万名之众的新加坡海港工友联合会（Singapore Harbour Board Workers’Union），进一步巩固、增强工人的团结。
工人争取人权与劳工权利的斗争，自然赢得了在5月13日被殴打得伤痕累累、头破血流，经历惨痛教训洗礼的华校中学生们的同情。他们对被压迫者为了争取别人 尊重自己的人权而开展斗争是怎么回事是有亲身体会的。华文中学学生公开表示支持海港局的白领与蓝领工人，支持詹密星。许多学生出现在工人纠察队的现场，以 行动给予工人同情和支持。
进入1955年不久，又发生了一件事。福利巴士公司的多数工人决定加入方水双、陈世鉴、林兆明领导的新加坡巴士工友联合会，并在该公司成立支会。他们不要 资方设立的黄色工会代表他们。工人的决定引发了工业纠纷。两个工会后来同意接受由马来亚大学加穆巴博士（Dr Gamba）的第三方仲裁，纠纷因此得以暂时平息。仲裁方关于划分巴士路线的建议，也获得了两个工会同意。然而，协议书上的签名墨迹方干，黄色工会在资方 的压力下马上又反悔了，这才导致工业纠纷进一步扩大。资方接着开除罢工的工人，叫来流氓想强硬把巴士开出车厂。这可是影响工人生计的大事，工人因此决定加 以阻止。于是，警察来了，持着巨大水力的水喉朝他们喷射，企图驱散工人。
今天，六十年过去了。新加坡当局把这段义愤的岁月称为“狂暴岁月”（days of rage），诬蔑学生和工人的正当抗争是万恶的马来亚共产党躲在幕后挑动的破坏与残暴行为。这就是他们经常使用的伎俩。再没有什么能比这种廉价的官方宣传更加远离事实真相的了。
回顾过去，有时真是讽刺。在上述这些事件发生时，蒂凡那（Devan Nair）还是个左翼工会的领袖。在今天这样的时刻，我想该向他的长子加纳达斯（Janadas）说：真希望你的父亲没和你说，林清祥告诉他1954年5 月13日学运和福利巴士工人罢工，是共产党在背后搞的鬼。林清祥已经不在人世，这样把再也无从证实的话塞到他的嘴里，未免太不公平，太欠厚道了。
编号C5：邓添明（Tang Thiam Meng），S4T 03943，1955年是巴士司机（共产党）。福利巴士罢工的主要煽动者之一。负责向新加坡电车公司（STC）巴士工人宣传共产主义思想。参与1956年 暴动。1958年获释后即刻恢复过去的工会活动。加入新加坡电车公司雇员联合会，目前为中委。王永元的忠实支持者。人民统一党阿裕尼支部委员会成员。
编号C6：那河，别名黄河，又名黄爾（Na Ho alias Wong Ho alias Wong Or），S2Y 6230。出租车的司机。嫌疑是共产党同情者。新加坡巴士工友联合会福利支会职员。参与1956年10月暴动。1956年10月被拘留，1957年3月4 日在“直接指令”（DIRECT ORDER）下获释。目前是人民统一党党员，中峇鲁支部主席。[来源：情报与安全委员会报告，编号(S)(63)1；1963年；电报编号57]
明知道英殖民当局认为这两人对安全没有威胁，而且反对逮捕他们。既然如此，为什么李光耀却非要将这两个王永元政党的党员列入冷藏行动逮捕名单呢？实际上， 李光耀曾向英殖民当局承认，逮捕人民统一党党员，是为了增强他在政治上胜出的机会。利用冷藏行动扫荡社会主义阵线领导人后，李光耀害怕王永元的人民统一党 乘机填补社阵留出来的政治版图，成为“和李光耀争夺权势的下一个最强的政治对手”。[塞尔扣克勋爵向殖民地大臣汇报；第4点；电报编号56；1963年1 月29日]我们不要忘记，人民行动党刚刚才在1961年芳林补选中败给了王永元。
根据这些记录，我们知道李光耀调阅过编号C4、C5和C6三人的材料。他其实非常清楚，英殖民当局认为编号C4、C5和C6三人对安全没有威胁。因此，我 们可以推测，李光耀早就知道，1955年福利巴士暴动和1956年华文中学学生暴动有这些英国坐探在煽风点火。感谢英国的解密档案，我们今天也知道了。尽 管如此，李光耀最近却没有阻止亚洲新闻台（Channel News Asia）浪费公帑，派遣制作队到尼泊尔去采访当年的辜加警察。制作队想必有一个“很棒”的愉快旅程。
李光耀如何欺瞒与诈骗新加坡人民，档案里翻出来的证据已经多如牛毛。几天前覃炳鑫博士在网络媒体《网上公民》（The Online Citizen）发表的文章，又作了最新的揭露。这是关于1956年10月25日林清祥在群众大会上说的“Mai Pah Mata”（闽南话，“别打警察”的意思），可耻地被歪曲引述为“Pah Mata”（“打警察”）。这个被歪曲的引述，成了林有福政府两天后逮捕林清祥的理据。这个被歪曲的引述，纠缠了林清祥六十年，把他抹黑成一个教唆群众在 1956年10月25日和26日暴动的不负责任的煽动者。
Terima kasih，谢谢大家，thank you。
Singing their hearts out at the lunch. Photo credit: Ho Choon Hiong