Tan Jing Quee was a writer, poet, politician, lawyer and historian. He wrote extensively when he was an undergraduate and was an active member of the Socialist Club. When more than 130 opposition politicians and active citizens were arrested in Operation Coldstore in February 1963, Jing Quee entered the dangerous mine of politics. He stood as a candidate for the Barisan Sosialis in the September 1963 general election against the PAP incumbent and minister for foreign affairs, Mr S Rajaratnam. He lost by a mere 220 votes.
Descending to the depths of undemocratic practice, the PAP despite winning the general election and having arrested all the key opposition leaders seven months earlier in Operation Coldstore, conducted yet another major operation called “Operation Pecah” two weeks after the election. Its intent was clearly to decimate the opposition.
Jing Quee together with other opposition members who contested the general election were arrested and imprisoned under the Internal Security Act. Three elected opposition Barisan members – Lee Tee Tong, ST Bani and Loh Miaw Gong were also arrested and prevented from being sworn into parliament. They were thus deprived of their MP allowances.
Jing Quee was detained from 8 October 1963 to 4 May 1966 and again from 15 February 1977 to 14 May 1977.
Despite these setbacks, Jing Quee continued to pursue his interest in writing and research after his retirement from legal practice. His achievements are impressive despite his declining health. Lysa Hong wrote soon after his death
We have to thank Tan Jing Quee for his courage and determination to correct the history of Singapore. Without him, there would not be so many books and articles today that debunk the official history of Singapore. Official historians may continue to deny what actually happened in the past. But there will definitely come a day when the tide will change and truth will prevail.