Review of “Escape From The Lion’s Paw”

“If you run, I’ll fire” shouted the ISD (Internal Security Department) officer, revolver in hand.

“If I die, so be it,” came Ho Juan Thai’s reply as he continued running . What had he done to be hunted down like a criminal? No surprise in Singapore that you can be hunted down if you are an outspoken student leader daring to speak against unreasonable uni

versity rules. You can be hunted down for supporting the rights of exploited workers, and yes, you can be hunted down for standing as a candidate for the Worker’s Party in the 1976 General Election. It was easy, because Juan Thai’s speeches at the rallies, of the injustices and persecution of Nantah students were construed as inciting racial unrest – grounds for arrest.

We know how small Singapore is, how well equipped the police force is, how easy it is to be hunted down and captured, yet Ho Juan Thai, through verve and steely determination, not to be yet another ISA detainee, to be forced to ‘confess’ on the national television, fought through it all to escape the crutches of Singapore’s repressive state machinery. Here is true grit in action.

Indeed, the six stories by Ho Juan Thai, Ang Swee Chai, Francis Khoo, Tan Wah Piow, Tsui Hon Kwong and Tang Fong Har are as different as they are incredible and poignant. While revealing state repression they also reveal the tenacity of the human spirit.

We all know the PAP’s version of the stories; here at last is their own story. We hear of their escape – but exactly how, we do not know, that is, until the publication of this book. It is an interesting read for all and a must read for all Singaporeans if only because it happened right here, in Singapore.

By Chng Suan Tze

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