If you go to a shopping centre in Singapore and ask the young shoppers there if they have heard of Operation Spectrum [Link]and the 'Marxist Conspiracy', will you get the same blank stares as the BBC reporter? On 21 May 1987 in the wee hours of the morning, a group of 16 Singaporeans were arrested from their homes and detained. They were accused of trying to overthrow the govt by force and replacing it with a Marxist govt. They were found with no weapons,....11 of the 16 people arrested were women...they were supposed to have plotted to 'overthrow the govt by force' defeating the SAF and the Singapore Police Force. The detainees were interrogated under harsh conditions, forced to confess on TV and sign various documents. Over the next few weeks, Singaporeans were fed with a colorful plot centered around this person called Tan Wah Piow, a former student activist in the 70s who fled to England when the govt came after him for helping to fight for a group of workers seeking justice.
This supposed evil mastermind Tan Wah Piow is now a human rights lawyer in England. He now spends large part of his time helping immigrants seeking justice. His career choice probably says a lot about how credible the mastermind accusation is. After the detainees were released, a number repudiated their confessions and wanted to sue the govt, they were rearrested and detained.
.Why should we not forget what happened to this group of Singaporeans 22 years ago? Because nothing has changed - the same law (ISA), the same govt (PAP) and the same media(ST) that helped to perpetuate this unjust act exist today as they did 22 years ago. Forget the fairtale Marxist Conspiracy theory...what this whole thing is about a group of men who wanted to preserve their single-party hegemonistic rule through repression.
"Do we want a Singapore where only because of a slight dissent against the Government, people are arrested? Do you want a country that has a widespread fear, apathy?”
- Chiam See Tong in parliament, 1987
There is no reason for the PAP govt to keep the ISA as it is except to be able to use it again to preserve its own power. The Malaysians have taken steps to review the ISA [Link] and it is likely they will replace with an anti-terrorism act. It is useless to talk about wanting an open inclusive society when such a draconian law exists to permeate a climate of fear among the people.