MHA responded to a statement by former detainees calling for ISA to be abolished by attempting to justify the arrest those detainees. Please read the statement for yourself and think about what the MHA is saying.
MHA statement found here.
"Nine were actively involved in Communist United Front (CUF) activities in
support of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), which was committed to the
violent overthrow of the constitutionally-elected governments in Singapore and
Malaysia. They infiltrated legally-established organisations like trade unions
and student associations, and instigated illegal strikes and demonstrations to
cause mayhem and civil strife, to complement the CPM's armed revolution.
The saboteur had been conveying a bomb for an attack in Singapore, and was
travelling along Still Road (Katong) when it detonated prematurely, injuring him
and killing his two accomplices. Such was the volatile and dangerous security
situation then prevailing in Singapore. Following the CPM's call in 1968 to its
underground networks to return to armed struggle, new CPM organisations were
formed in the 1970s which included killer squads to carry out sabotage,
assassinations and other acts of violence."
In the past it was very easy to accuse people of being communists unless they were on the side of the colonial govt. Trade unions, student unions and people fighting for independents were hauled up and locked up by the Special Branch. During this tumultous period, the working conditions for workers were poor and strikes and demonstrations often broke out . MHA assertion is that these people were communists who instigated workers to strike amd demonstrate - strikes and demonstrations were common in developing countries and they still break out very often today in developing countries. There are laws to handle labor strife without resorting to something like ISA. Even in developed countries such as USA we often see strikes when workers are badly exploited by employers - the most recent on involving 45,000 workers from Verizon[Link]. Countries that ban strikes without strong legislation to protect workers expose their workers to abuse and poor working conditions. Those strikes, whether they were legal or illegal, instigated or not - can a strike ever occur without 'instigation'? someone has to call for a strike and lead it - is besides the point and does not help to support the retention of ISA because many countries handle strikes without the ISA. The MHA then says that these 'instigators' were linked to the CPM (Communist Party of Malaya) - surely if these people were linked of CPM, the evidence can be produced - otherwise the ISD can just haul up anyone and accuse them of being linked to the communists when they are just peaceful socialists with good intentions. Let me ask you....where is the CPM today? It no longer exists! So why should we retain ISA for a threat that no longer exists?
In the 1980s, seven of the sixteen ex-detainees were involved in a Marxist plot
to subvert and destabilise Singapore. The plot was part of the CPM's renewed
efforts to rebuild the united front by penetrating and manipulating
legally-established organisations. Three of them infiltrated and manipulated several religious organisations and, exploiting the religious cover, pursued
activities towards subversive ends
The Marxist Conspiracy was 24 years ago and I'm still trying to figure how Vincent Cheng and Teo Soh Lung were supposed to be able to subvert the govt of Singapore by defeating the SAF, SPF and hoodwink the entire nation into a violent revolution to overthrow their beloved PAP govt. Vincent Cheng the alleged mastermind of the plot must have handwritten his entire plan on a piece of paper somewhere otherwise how could the ISD have known about such a plan? Vincent must have swallowed the paper prior to his arrest because no evidence (no weapons, no paper) was ever produced to prove this allegation. The MHA now justify Vincent Cheng's arrest simply by repeating the allegation against him. That allegation was all it took to detain him and that is why people want the ISA abolished. What is there to stop another govt some time in the future from using against its political opponents by making accusations it does not need to prove?
I suggest you go through the entire MHA statement and think about the issue but I will leave you with a simple counter argument against what MHA has said.
Why do we need such a law when all other developed countries can ensure the safety of its citizens without it? Do you feel insecure in Japan, Finland, Sweden or Australia?.....We spend far more on defense, intelligence and the police per capita than most of these countries. Many of them are bigger in geographical size than Singapore with a bigger population to look after yet they do not need such a draconian law.
The PAP govt is very unwise to keep such a law that it cannot justify because its existence links the PAP to an ugly past. The PAP govt with the help of the British eliminated an entire generation of prominent socialist opponents including the likes of Lim Chin Siong and members of the Barisan Socialis using the ISA when they were conducting a legitimate constitutional struggle and getting ready for elections they were likely to have won. The PAP then ran this place with authoritarian leadership and its brand of authoritarian capitalism. 4 decades of unbalanced policies later we find we have the most economically unequal society among all developed nations. By retaining the ISA, the PAP reminds us what it has done in the past including holding the world record for the longest period of detention for a prisoner of conscience - Chia Thye Poh was detained by the ISD for a period longer than Nelson Mendela without a single charge or trial - how does one justify the detention of a 25 year old physics professor for a period of 32 years?