Hours before the dawn of 2 February 1963, the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the government of the Federation of Malaya and Britain launched a massive operation known as “Operation Cold Store.” The troika arrested and detained more than 120 left-wing activists under the Internal Security Act (ISA), including leaders and key members of Barisan Sosialis, Partai Rakyat, trade unions, university students’ unions and organisations. Among those arrested and detained for many years without trial were well-known political leaders, Lim Chin Siong, Said Zahari and Dr Lim Hock Siew.
More arrests were carried out on 26 September and 8 October in the same year. Ruthless persecution and infringement of human rights continue in Singapore and Malaysia till today. Many are still imprisoned under the ISA.
Over the past 50 years, detainees were incarcerated for decades. Said Zahari, Dr Poh Soo Kai and Ho Piao were detained for 17 years, Dr Lim Hock Siew and Lee Tee Tong, 20 years while Chia Thye Poh was detained for 32 years. Many others were expelled from Singapore or forced to flee. Tan Wah Piow and Ho Juan Thai now live as exiles.
ISA detainees may have been freed from detention today, but they have been robbed of the prime of their lives. They were ostracized for decades and treated as second-class citizens. They who had fought for Singapore’s independence from British colonial rule have been vilified in official history books. Their children and grandchildren know very little about their lives and what they stood for.
50 years have passed since Operation Cold Store. Youthful idealism has mellowed with age. Many have departed.
Come and join us in commemorating the 50th anniversary of Operation Cold Store.
Date: Sunday, 3 February 2013
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Venue: Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry
47 Hill Street