PAP governs Singapore through fear
~by: Teo Soh Lung
Professor Chan Heng Chee's letter of 21 June 2012 to The New York
Times cannot go unchallenged. (Her letter was posted earlier on this
page). She said:
"Even as Singapore evolves, we cannot forget our fundamental
vulnerabilities as a small, multiracial society.
The Internal Security Act was used in the past to deal with a violent
insurgency and active subversion by the Communists. It remains
relevant as a pre-emptive tool to safeguard security, especially
against the threat of terrorism.
Several countries have introduced similar preventive measures."
As a political prisoner once upon a time and a friend of several
former detainees who were imprisoned for decades and subjected to
inhuman and degrading treatment by the PAP government, I am
convinced that though Singapore is a small country, we do not need
the Internal Security Act (ISA). Indeed, if we had abolished the ISA
after the British left our shores or even after we were ejected from
Malaysia, Singapore would today be a thriving democracy and an
intellectual hub in South East Asia.
If only we have leaders like former ISA detainees, Dr Chia Thye Poh
(jailed for 32 years), the late Dr Lim Hock Siew (20 years), Dr Poh Soo
Kai (17 years), Mr Said Zahari (17 years) and Mr Tan Jing Quee (4
years), just to name a few, Singapore would be a more equal and just
society today. Our elderly would not have to worry about hospital
bills for the state would have provided basic health care. Our school
going children would not need tuition every day of the week. They
would have been able to enjoy their childhood as much as we did in
the past. Our working adults would not need to compete for jobs by
working long hours, neglecting their own families. There would have
been time for leisure and the pursuit of hobbies that enrich lives.
For more than half a century, the PAP has only one method of
governing Singapore - that of instilling FEAR in our people. Those
who managed to rid part of this Fear are swiftly arrested and
imprisoned under the ISA. The PAP believes and practises the
Chinese idiom "Slaughter the chicken to teach the monkey". Yes,
Singaporeans are all monkeys and we need bloody chickens to keep
us docile. Hence the periodic mass arrests under the ISA.
The PAP's constant refrain that "we cannot forget our fundamental
vulnerabilities as a small, multiracial society" is simply a ploy to
perpetuate Fear in us. I know of no government which uses such a
threat to govern a country.
Professor Chan's bold claim that the ISA "was used in the past to deal
with a violent insurgency and active subversion by the Communists"
is a claim without basis. I would like to see the evidence that there
was any insurgency, let alone, violent insurgency. As Singapore's
ambassador and a citizen who has lived through the 1970s as an
adult and had witnessed her friends and contemporaries like Mr Ho
Kwon Ping arrested under the ISA, I expect her to know more than
others about the PAP's ruthless use of the ISA. I expect her to read
books such as Dark Clouds at Dawn, The Fajar Generation and The
May 13 Generation in addition to Men in White and speak the truth
instead of following her master's voice.
Professor Chan also said that the ISA "remains relevant as a pre-
emptive tool to safeguard security, especially against the threat of
terrorism." Before she makes such a claim, she should ask if she
would like to be imprisoned for 20 years without trial under the ISA.
It is easy to talk of the use of the ISA as a pre-emptive tool when the
victim is not the speaker.
And finally, Professor Chan claims that "Several countries have
introduced similar preventive measures." Name me one first world
country that has such a law as our ISA. Name me one first world
country that has a record of imprisoning good citizens without trial
for 32, 20, 17 or 4 years.
I am tired of intelligent people like Professor Chan Heng Chee
mouthing PAP mantras without making any attempt to investigate
the past and without reflecting on what their friends who have been
imprisoned under the ISA went through. It is time they stand up for
what is right and speak the truth.