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  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.