Message from Francis Seow

May 21, 1987, will forever remain Singapore’s own day of infamy, the day when Lee Kuan Yew, then Prime Minister, using the guise of internal security, abused its executive powers by ordering the arrest and detention of twenty-two innocent young men and women, who were associated with the Roman Catholic Church and allied social activities. Amongst them was Miss Teo Soh Lung, a young lawyer with a keen sense of social justice, who, Lee claims, was a dangerous Marxist. Given Lee Kuan Yew’s style of governance, the Internal Security Department (the ISD) – the so-called guardian of the security of the nation — was virtually overruled by him, as the PAP cabinet of ministers was similarly ignored and left in a similar state of ignorance and shock, as it did the nation.

On this infamous day, twenty-two young Roman Catholic Church and social activists were accused of plotting the violent overthrow of Lee and his PAP government through force of arms and replacing it with a Marxist state, which only their timely arrests under the notorious Internal Security Act had thwarted. Given that Communism world-wide was passé, a cruel new twist was given to these arrests in that they were accused of being Marxists or Marxist-inclined. In brief, they were accused of trying to subvert Lee and his PAP government through violence and replacing it with a Marxist government. Not a single round of ammunition nor any weapon was ever produced to substantiate this allegation. A more ludicrous allegation is hard to come by!

Even so, I acted as legal counsel to Miss Teo Soh Lung, a lawyer and keen social activist, who was arrested and detained with several others on those preposterous grounds. In the course of my professional visit to her at the infamous Whitley Road Centre, I suddenly found myself arrested and detained under the same Internal Security Act. No reasons were given for my arrest and detention. In the result, I could not see my client, Miss Teo Soh Lung, that day. This was Lee Kuan Yew’s tortured thinking, and he, of course, is never wrong! It also marks the overriding powers of one man over his cabinet colleagues, all of whom are in mortal dread of him, It was, however, later alleged that I was an agent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from which I allegedly received payments of vast sums of money.

After my release from detention, I was in the United States of America as a visiting fellow at Yale University, New Haven, and, later, at Harvard University, Cambridge, from where I gave numerous presentations and at other U.S. institutions of learning, at all of which I tried to pass word that, contrary to Lee Kuan Yew’s wild and morbid accusations, I have yet to receive payment from the C.I.A. in the hope that it would reach the right ears of the fate that had befallen me so that I can at least receive from the C.I.A belated payments To this day, I have not heard from the C.I.A.

And so, Miss Teo Soh Lung was not a Marxist nor I, a paid CIA agent.”‘

Francis Seow

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