Saturday, January 30, 2010

Man in White : Silence on key issues..

In a recent seminar, ‘Men in Black or White: History as Media Event in Singapore’, jointly organised by the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute and the National Library[Link], historians argued that the book:

a. Was inadequate in its coverage of the merger with Malaysia.

b. Failed to answer the question of whether Lim Chin Siong and other Barisan Socialis members were communists.

Historians were also disappointed that the book failed to discuss the PAP’s resignation from the Socialist International in 1976. I thought that was rather straight forward - the PAP was found to be fake socialists and were about to be expelled from Socialist International so they resigned instead to save face. Other disappointments with book include lack of discussion about Devan Nair’s resignation from the Presidency in 1985 and Operation Spectrum in 1987 - yep, all the unglorious past of the PAP govt.

Since I own the last few remaining copies of the Fajar the monthly organ of the University Socialist Club which was published during the merger period, I have scanned a number of Fajar articles related to the merger issue and Lim Chin Siong.

The Fajar carried out a Gallup Poll on 12-15 July 1962 in Tanjong Pagar constituency to find out how many would support merger. To ensure its impartiality, they engaged members of the public representatives of civic organisation to count the votes. The poll showed that 90% of the people were against the White Paper on the merger. If the merger referendum was conducted as a simple YES/NO vote to the merger, it would have been defeated. The PAP presented the electorate with a Hobson's choice, a kind of trick question with 3 options all leading to merger and no option to reject a merger with Malaysia :

  • Option A: All Singapore citizens would automatically become citizens of Malaysia, and Singapore would retain a degree of autonomy and state power, such as over labour and education. Singapore would also get to keep its language policies, such as to retain using all four major languages, English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.
  • Option B: Singapore would become a federal state like that of the other eleven states, with no more autonomy than the other states would, thus ceding control over issues such as labour and education policies to the federal government in Kuala Lumpur. This also meant that there would be less multilingualism - only English and Malay would be used for official purposes, and possibly education. Only those born in Singapore or descended from the Singapore-born would become citizens of Malaysia. There would also be proportionate representation in Parliament from Singapore.
  • Option C: Singapore would enter on terms no less favorable than the Borneo territories, Sabah and Sarawak, both whom were also discussing merger with Malaysia. This was to ensure that Malaysia would not discriminate along racial lines, as that would mean discriminating against Sabah and Sarawak, which were predominantly Bumiputra as well.

Many consider the referendum to be undemocratic - the PAP had all its bases covered because blank votes were counted as option A[Wikipedia] . Isn't that interesting history of how a false undemocratic choice was presented to the people? Following the referendum, the PAP declared it had strong support for merger.

Now for the other issue : Were Lim Chin Siong and Barisan Socialis members communists? Lets start with what Wikipedia says:

Declassified British documents [1] reveal that Lim was not the Communist he was and is painted in history textbooks in Singapore. In a starkly revealing essay, Dr Greg Poulgrain of Griffith University observes that the British Governor of Singapore and his Chief Secretary in their reports to London stated that the police found no evidence to establish that Lim was Communist. During Lim's rallies, the British and anticommunist Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock incited riots among the unionists and students in attendance. Lee Kuan Yew later used these incidents as reasons to imprison Lim under the charge of Communism, after Lim split from PAP to spearhead the Barisan Sosialis. From being courted as a co-founder of the PAP, Lim was later banished to England; his immense popularity with the Singapore people did not go down well with Lee who feared that Lim might supersede and displace him. Chin Peng, the leader of the MCP, stated that the Malaya Communist Party had never controlled and manipulated Lim Chin Siong and Barisan Sosialis as Lee Kuan Yew had accused.

It is thus unsettling how many Singaporeans still believe that Lim was a Communist simply because he was painted so by Lee despite conclusive and consistent proof to the contrary.

The British actually objected to arresting Lim Chin Siong because they did not believe he was a communist and at that point in time was involved in a constitutional struggle[Link]. What was this constitutional struggle about? It was about securing the democratic freedoms and the empowerment of Singaporeans. In a recent interview, Dr. Poh Soo Kai, explained why they left the PAP to form the Barisan Socialis:

"The Big Six – Mr Lim, Mr Fong Swee Suan, Mr Woodhull, Mr Dominic Puthucheary, Mr S.T. Bani and Mr Jamit Singh – had stated that while they supported the PAP in the coming by-election, they would not compromise on issues such as detention without trial and freedoms of press, speech, assembly and organisation. Dr Poh argues that these statements amounted to a ‘request’, not an ‘ultimatum’. But Mr Lee, he says, saw this as a challenge to the PAP leadership and decided to make the split."

- Dr. Poh Soo Kai, Straits Times Interview "Dr. Poh:Why I parted company with PAP", 27 Dec 2009.

Here's an article by Lim Chin Siong on the Constitutional Struggle published in the Fajar (Aug 1961)

They (Barisan Socialis) were engaged in a struggle for democracy in Singapore, freedom and empowerment of ordinary citizens and were about to succeed at the coming elections before they were arrested and detained without trial. 50 years later, Singaporeans live in a semi-authoritarian state still struggling for their basic right to assemble and to speak freely. Elections have been tweaked to preserve PAP's dominance and Singapore ranks very low in press freedom. The same laws that were used to detain these people still exist in Singapore today. Today our leaders look to communist China hoping that its success and rise will vindicate what they have done in Singapore i.e. trading away civil liberties for economic gains. It is very clear to me who stood on the side of the people, freedom, human rights and democracy ...and who stood against. Was Lim Chin Siong a communist? Only in the fiction of PAP men written to promote myths about their righteousness and greatness.


Anonymous said...

wow ... nice

Onlooker said...

Lim Chin Siong was fighting for democracy.

Anonymous said...

Rightful PM Lim Chin Siong was betrayed by the very people he was trying to help because these people chose to accept PAP's bribes (eg. upgrading in housing from kampong to hdb etc) than to stand up for justice. Today, these people without principals are the one clearing plates and washing toilets in their 80s. Serve them right!

Anonymous said...

By nature LKY is very selfish and evil. Anyone who stands in his way must be destroyed. If forces needed to be used, it shall be used. If someone has to suffer or be killed to pave the way for his rise and stay at the top, it shall be done. If all Singaporeans have to slog like slaves to glorify him, so be it. The topmost priority is his personal interest. Right and wrong does not exist in his mind. He has no humane feelings let alone morals. This man is NOT human. He is a monster.

Anonymous said...


Supposed you were a well paid employee of SPH and tasked to write such a book, would you have done it any differently?

Or don't say write a book. What if you were a SPH journalist? Would you write in the way you have written in your blog?

So I don't blame the silence of the authors of Man in White on those issues.

Hence it is the duty of blogs and non partisan groups to break the silence on these issues. It is very needed in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

After he dies, time will put Lee Kuan Yew's action into perspective.

In 1935, if you ask Germans who is the best and worst German in History. They would say Hitler then Einstein in that order.

If you ask Germans now, they would say the opposite.

We need time to distance Singaporeans from the brainwashing cult of Lee.

Anonymous said...

I still wonder how people can label the old man with superlatives such as 'great', 'father of Singapore' and so on.

The man is nothing more than a coward, hypocrite and a failed intellectual. Kind of reminds me of that Romanian diplomat who ran road - a third world politician.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

"Communist" was a provocative label at that time, but today with ubiquitous Che Guevara T-shirts, Red Star merchandise (even a large statue of Mao Zedong in our shopping mall!) and hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals in our country, the negative connotation of the term has become diluted.

Maybe in future the term "meritocrat" will replace "communist" as the most insulting label that a Singaporean politician can be given.

Anonymous said...

today's ST report on book by irene ng on rajaratnam is another whitewash
by pap.
the excerpts keep mentioning that Lim Chin Siong and co. are communists. the journalist even claimed that this is the best book on rajaratnam. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I had no idea the "referendum" didn't allow voting against merger and spoilt votes to automatically count for option A. So much for the brainwashing of Social Studies.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that authors for PAP books and politicians are those that are affiliated with govt or the PAP?

Years ago there was also another book by SPH journalists entitled "LKY: The man and his ideas".

When LKY wrote his memoirs some years back he got research and backup support from SPH and even civil servants.

Now the latest is PAP MP Irene Ng's book on Rajaratnam.

I think for balance and to fill up omissions, one should read books by other authors which contain parts which are unflattering to them. We are after all mortals, greater or lesser, and do make mistakes. Nothing to be ashamed of.

But it may be difficult to find it here. When I went to KL I got some. Like the book by Tan Wah Piow written in 1987.

Anonymous said...

Currently reading Comet in our sky: Lim Chin Siong. A most informative book that reveals quite a lot about British intelligence on the radical left and Lim. What's most telling was that they acknowledged that despite being on the left, the Barisan Socialis were playing by the rules.

And if you're a power-hungry opportunist who knows that he's going to lose in a fair game, what do you do?

Stop playing by the rules of course and that's where Coldstore comes in.

Anonymous said...

Coldstore happened in 1963 and not the last.

In 1987, they arrested many under ISA under the charge of being "Marxist" and trying to "overthrow" the govt using "communist" tactics.

Since then there was a lull but lawsuits was one that was used often, especially on those opposition they regarded as formidable.

Add in the GRC in elections and the opposition simply vanished, saved for one or 2 for "wallflower" purposes in Parliament.

So what will the next election scenario be like? A tsunami due to pent up feelings? Still need to wait and see as they said elections will not happen anytime soon.

Or maybe need to wait for MM Lee's forecast of the best time for it. Hahaha!

Anonymous said...

I hope we would not look to Communist China as a role model.

For its 5000 year history, China has shown very little maturity and growth in politics. The only government China has known is dictatorship.

One of the very rare exceptions is Dr. Sun Yat Sen. Besides him, practically every leader in China harbours ambition to be emperor.

China is a very poor role model for us.

Anonymous said...

we are indeed living in the "Matrix", a world created to make us believe we are living in the "real" world. it's time for us to wake up and undo the damage these twisted history had done to us.

MM SZ said...

Linked under, 'Politics'. Thanks. Btw, your posts of relevance will still be linked even in the absence of notification here. Hope that's alright with you. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Hi, you have misquoted Philip Holden. He did NOT say the book was “mostly PR and not journalism”.

It was the first speaker Tan Tarn How who said that, and he was referring to the Straits Times coverage of the book's launch, and not the book itself.

You should correct that.

LuckySingaporean said...

anon 21:23,

Thanks for pointing it out. Done.

Anonymous said...

i see now... lky's birth as an ignominious "founding father" of singapore.

no wonder my father always lamented that he should not have supported pap during his school days...

once a snake, always a snake

Anonymous said...

Alamak...Tan Tarn How said the SPH and Straits Times coverage of the book was "PR and not journalism."

He didn't describe the book as such. It wouldn't make sense - the book is not meant to be journalism anyway! More like an attempt at (un)popular history.

You need to correct that again...

Anonymous said...

We had a vibrant democratic political climate and that was demolished systematically by the first generation PAP leader. Do we want to revive that democratic spirit or continue to be dominated? The choice is ours, even with the GRCs and all the rest of instruments, we need to start somewhere.

someone sad for singapore said...

Not surprised that LCS was framed by a backstabbing bastard.

This backstabbing bastard can know one thing for sure, his ill-gotten riches will never join him in hell, and he will suffer knowing that he will meet the Devil in hell with empty pockets just like everyone in Singapore.

He can't live past 200 years old, can he? Personally I think he won't make it past 2020.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the 3 options of the merger referendum is something refreshing!

I think very soon, our General Elections will be only competed by PAP Team A and PAP Team B!!!LOL!

the wicked Baba said...

I am waiting patiently for a far superior and more accurate version, "MIW and their little tricks."

Without doubt, great potential for a blockbuster TV series.

I should play the role of Lim CS. And either Mr Brown or Lucky can audition to be LKY, the villain of course.

Micheal said...

The contradictions that we often see in PAP politics when we read the newspaper arises because the PAP ministers seem not to know what the other is doing. If you have to worry about your PERFORMANCE BONUS - which is a 7 months salary at stake - you are more focused to meet the profit goal of your own department, not the people's interest.

Often times, we see LKY comin' in to supposedly clean things up. His condescending remarks on native Singaporeans voters' concerns for rising properties, transport, loss of jobs, overcrowding, employers preferences for non-obligated NS/reservists foreigners over Singaporean workers, among other things serves a strong purpose. What is he and his machinery trying to do?

PAP's non-full disclosure and non-transparency behaviour is a tool they've employed on the Singaporeans for many years. LKY outbursts serves to DECORATE the CHAINS that he has binded Singaporeams with and you start thinking they are ornamental. When he sensed that people are being DECONDITIONED from his propaganda, LKY comes in to make the chains golden and make these chains seem valuable once again. You don't think they are chains once again. What PAP is doing, all these years, is to decorate the prison so long and so beautifully that you have forgotten that it is a prison, you think it is your home.

Singaporeans have been conditioned to be politically apathetic for too long. They can't see beyond their rice bowl and securing a house. You have become so accustomed to living in chains that freedom taste bitter.

Majulah Singapura!

Anonymous said...

The government will raise CPF contribution by 2 more percent after the elections to 22%. This will mean lesser disposable income or take-home pay.

Anonymous said...

LKY is the reason why there are at least 98% seats for the PAP at every election. He knows some sure fire methods to achieve this.

That's why he is still needed as Mentor even at 86 years old.

That's why people wanting him to step down or wondering why he still didn't step down miss this whole thing.

When he leaves the scene, maybe there is some hope of change, provided none of the ministers had learn the methods.

Anonymous said...

Method = Money = MM secret

Anonymous said...

MM's secret for success = gullible citizens + army of stooges

Anonymous said...

Tharman Shamugaratnam has already mentioned in an overseas interview in May last year that the GST will be used to adjust any figures the government need to make more money. So I doubt that only the CPF contributions will be upped after the elections. GST will go up by another one to 2 percent. The government has mentioned that it wants GST to hit 11% by 2018.

Anonymous said...

I really hope GOD will punish LKY hard. He is EVIL and CORRUPTED. A LIAR and POWER HUNGRY to the EXTREME. He cant be saved. Beyond HOPE!