Friday, June 13, 2008


Lim Chin Siong vs Lee Kuan Yew: The true and shocking history

Lim Chin Siong was really Singapore's true leader and should have become Prime Minister in 1959 - it is ironic that Lee Kuan Yew once introduced Lim Chin Siong as "our future Prime Minister" - instead the dictator Lee Kuan Yew stole power away from Chin Siong, who was bullied and conspired against by Lee, Lim Yew Hock and the British authorities. Lim Chin Siong was a great populist, a champion of Singapore students and workers - a Singapore nationalist - the George Washington of Singapore who wanted freedom from British rule and Democracy for Singapore's people.

Declassified British documents reveal that he was not a communist as Lee Kwan Yew said he was, as is taught out of Lee's People's Action Party approved textbooks to Singapore school children.In a startling and revisionist essay, Dr Greg Poulgrain of Griffiths University observes that the British Governor of Singapore and his Chief Secretary in their reports to London had admitted that the police could find no evidence to establish that Lim was a communist.

The British and Singapore Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock had deliberately provoked the students and unionists into riots at rallies that Lim Chin Siong was attending. Lee Kuan Yew later opportunistically used these incidents to persecute and imprison Lim as a communist (after Lim had formed his own political party because Lee had marginalized Lim and his supporters in the PAP) and then banish him to England after first courting Lim to be a co-founder of the People's Action Party because of Lim's immense popularity with the Singapore people.

Chin Peng the leader of the Malaya Communist Party said that Lim Chin Siong never admitted he was a Communist Party member and that the Malaya Communist Party did not control Lim Chin Siong and his Barisan Socialis party as Lee Kuan Yew stated they did.

While under detention and most likely torture (according to Amnesty International) in Singapore under Lee's rule he became depressed and tried to hang himself. He died of heart failure, a broken and disillusioned man in 1996. This is one of Singapore's sadest stories. A movie could be made from this, although it would be banned in Singapore under the rule of the Lee family and the corrupt People's Action Party.

Lee Kuan Yew should be prosecuted for TREASON against Singapore for subverting the Democractic system put in place by the British and used by Lee Kuan Yew to come to power. Lee should then have to suffer the consequences as set out by current law for treason in Singapore.

If the Attorney General of Singapore truly stood up for law he would act against Lee and his son who have turned Singapore into a dictatorship, the fact that the Attorney General does not prosecute Lee makes him guilty of not upholding the Democratic Constitution of Singapore.

Lee Kuan Yew subverted a functional democratic system with a strong opposition that actually could win an election if:

1) Gerrymandering of ridings and vote counting irregularities (as has been claimed by many sources) were not practiced by Lee and the People's Action Party.

2) The public was not threatened with withdrawal of financial support for their electoral riding as is done under the PAP's rule

3) Strong opposition leaders that made serious attempts to win a majority election for their party were not jailed and or bankrupted as Lee was not back in the 1950's when he came to power under the original British Parliamentary Democratic system.

4) The Singapore Media was not owned and controlled by the Singapore People's Action Party majority government - essentially making the main Singapore media a branch of the People's Action Party.

Any real democratic court in the world would rule that Lee Kuan Yew is a dictator that has demolished the original British Democratic system that was in place when he used it to attain power in 1959.

Singapore Elections Act states:

Undue influence
59. Every person who —

(a) directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, makes use of or threatens to make use of any force, violence or restraint, or inflicts or threatens to inflict, by himself or by any other person, any temporal or spiritual injury, damage, harm or loss upon or against any person in order to induce or compel that person to vote or refrain from voting, or on account of that person having voted or refrained from voting at any election; or

(b) by abduction, duress or any fraudulent device or contrivance, impedes or prevents the free exercise of the franchise of any elector or voter, or thereby compels, induces or prevails upon any elector or voter either to vote or refrain from voting at any election, shall be guilty of the offence of undue influence.

Lee Kuan Yew and his Prime Minister Son Lee Hsien Loong are guilty of using Undue Influence in the Singapore Parliamentary Elections Act by threatening to withhold money to constituents who vote in an opposition politician and also by bankrupting and or imprisoning Singapore political leaders who make a serious attempt at winning a majority of seats from an election for members of Singapore's Parliament.

Lee Kuan Yew on Singapore's Criminal Law Legislation:
"The basic difference in our approach springs from our traditional Asian value system which places the interests of the community over and above that of the individual," Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew said in a speech.
"In criminal law legislation, our priority is the security and well being of law-abiding citizens rather than the rights of the criminal to be protected from incriminating evidence."

By deceiving Singaporeans in order to gain political power Lee Kuan Yew has placed his own interests above those of the communities Democratic rights. This makes his statement about his Asian values outrageous!

At the recent court trial against Dr. Chee Soon Juan, the judge and Lee Kuan Yew's lawyer forcefully attempted to stop the information about the declassified British documents on what really went on in Singapore politics in the 1950's and early 1960's, this article contains much of what Dr. Chee tried to bring to light in Lee's corrupt court.

What follows came mostly from , other information has also been added to it.
08 Jul 07

Schools teach Singapore children that Lee Kuan Yew heroically delivered Singapore from the evil clutches of the communists and gave us what we have today.

Whether such an assertion is historically accurate or not, the Government seems intent to seal this version in the annals of Singapore. When filmmaker, Mr Martyn See, released Zahari's 17 Years in which Mr Said Zahari talked about his 17-year detention, the Government promptly banned it.

It, it stated, "will not allow people who had posed a security threat to the country in the past to exploit the use of films to purvey a false and distorted portrayal of their past actions and detention by the government."

When Lim Chin Siong, another of Lee Kuan Yew's prisoners, died in 1996, the PAP was equally anxious to make sure that Lim's portrayal as a revolutionary communist remained etched in the minds of the people.

In response to a tribute that the SDP had written about Lim, the PAP through then MP Dr Ow Chin Hock, said that the Barisan Sosialis (Socilaist Front), of which Lim was its leader, fought the Government in 1966 "on the streets, according to the teachings of Mao Zedong in the Cultural Revolution."

It was a bald-faced lie. Lim was already in prison under ISA detention in 1966 and could not have led his party in anything.

This, it seems, was not the only untruth that the PAP has been telling us.

For example, Dr Ow pointed out that Lim was not fighting for a democratic Singapore (the cheek) but a communist one. Lim would have turned Singapore into "Mao's China or Ho Chi Minh's Vietnam", the PAP insisted.

Besides, it was the Internal Security Council (ISC) under the command of the British and not the PAP Government, who ordered the arrest and detention of Lim and colleagues.

This was because there were only three PAP representatives on the ISC and they were "outnumbered" by the other four members on the Council, three British and one Malaysian.

Nothing could be more untrue.

Top-secret documents held by the British Government, now declassified, reveal some jaw-dropping facts about Lee Kuan Yew and how he came to power.

Two history scholars studied these papers and presented their findings in the book Comet In Our Sky (available at Select Books at the Tanglin Shopping Centre).

The first is Tim Harper who teaches Southeast Asian history and the history of the British empire at the University of Cambridge in London.

The second is Greg Poulgrain, a professor at Griffiths University in Australia who has been researching Southeast Asian history for more than 20 years.

This SDP feature presents a summary of Dr Harper's and Dr Poulgrain's chapters. It contains some shocking archival material.

It also attempts to answer questions like who were people like Lim Chin Siong and Said Zahari? Did they really pose a security threat to the country? Were they communists hell-bent on undermining constitutional/democratic means of governance in Singapore? Was it really the ISC that was responsible for their arrest and imprisonment? Most important, is the PAP's version of history based on fact?

Remember, this narration is not the SDP's rendition of events past. It is a collective summary of the research done by two historians.

To ensure that this present essay remains faithful to Professors Harper's and Poulgrain's works, quotes from the historians' chapters are used liberally.

Still, don't take our word for it. Get a copy of Comet In Our Sky and read for yourself the real history of the PAP and Barisan Sosialis.

Why bother?

But why is this important? Why should Lim Chin Siong, a man who died more than ten years ago and who led a party which is now defunct, be relevant to the world in which we now live?

First, because those events are part of our history, and history defines who we are as a people and, more important, shapes the way we plan our future.

The textbooks that the Ministry of Education writes for our kids are not history but rather fables, starring Mr Lee Kuan Yew. We have a duty to teach our youths the truth.

Also, what happened in the 1950s and 60s continue to be relevant because many of Lim's colleagues are still alive and the sacrifices they made for the independence of Singapore have been all but erased. Their stories must be told and their honour restored.

Third, and perhaps most important, not only is the PAP's cloroxed account used to mentally condition (brainwash, if you prefer) our children, it continues to be used as a weapon to intimidate and silence voices of dissent.

If Lee Kuan Yew can manipulate the security apparatus for his own political ends in the 1950s and 60 as you will note from Dr Harper's and Dr Poulgrain's revelations, what does that say about the present use of the ISD to detain other Singaporeans?
More ominously, what if the PAP feels sufficiently threatened politically and resorts to concocting another conspiracy to detain without trial more Singaporeans and opposition politicians like it did to a group of professionals in 1987?

Hard, historical facts are the greatest antidote to fear mongering by the state and to the use of national security as a bogey to suppress freedom and democracy.

Knowledgeable citizens with a keen sense of history are the best protection against acts of repression in the future.

So if you are a discerning Singaporean unwilling to let the authorities tell you what to think and how to think it, if you are one of those who don't want your mind raped, then introduce yourself to this four-part Special Feature and take part in the forum discussion.

Part I: Our man
08 Jul 07 -
from -

"The men who led Singapore to self-government and independence were swift to produce an authorized version of their struggle…,” historian T N Harper observes, "it began with Lee Kuan Yew's dramatic broadcasts as Prime Minister on Radio Malaya in 1961. The plot and the moral of this story are clear: by the political resolve and tactical acumen of its leaders, the fragile city-state weathers the perils of a volatile age and emerges into an era of stability and prosperity."

However, much to the discomfort of the Minister Mentor who hitherto has had a relatively free reign in portraying "the period as one in which Lim Chin Siong and the left were outmanoeuvred by the tactically more astute Lee Kuan Yew," Harper cautions that "authoritative new archival research sheds new light on the high politics of the period."

In other words, Lee's bravado with which he presently speaks covers up much that took place during those years.

In truth, Lim Chin Siong's fate was sealed right from the very beginning by the power of the British colonialists – and not Lee Kuan's political prowess. Lim Chin Siong was really the George Washington of Singapore, the revolutionary Singapore nationalist that wanted freedom from the British rulers and Democracy for his people.Lee Kuan Yew was nowheres in site at those public rallies because he did not want power for the people, he wanted it for himself and would go onto lure Lim Chin Siong into his clutches so as to ride on his popularity. Lee Kuan Yew is a clever and cunning sociopathic power monger that has proven that he has no conscience about destroying anyone who stands in his way. The British are to be blamed for letting their sociopath come to power and in the end they lost Singapore anyways.

At that time British authorities were already devising ways on how to stop Lim's ascent in Singapore's politics. Southeast Asia historian, Greg Poulgrain, writes that "In the Public Record Office in London are some of the observations and stratagems pursued by both the Colonial and Foreign Office – revealed now more than thirty years after the events – on how to deal with this rising star, Lim Siong Chin."

With Singaporeans becoming more educated and the advent of the Internet, events surrounding the heroics of Lee and his PAP during the period of independence and merger with Malaya "no longer looks so unilinear and uncontested."

The emergence of Lim Chin Siong

Harper recounts the "meteoric" rise of Lim Chin Siong as a student and trade union leader in the early 1950s who was at the heart of the anti-colonial politics that had erupted all over Asia following World War II.

By unifying the labour movement and galvanizing the overwhelmingly Chinese-speaking electorate through his formidable oratorical skills (he once told his massive audience: "Saya masuk first gear, lu jangan gostan!" – "When I go into the first gear, don't you go into reverse!"), Lim captured the attention of the masses, and Lee Kuan Yew's too. This led to an association between the two men and the subsequent formation of the PAP. The anglophile Lee (Harry, as he once wanted to be called as his father pushed him to learn the rules of the white man's world, he later went back to using his Chinese name when it became apparent that his power would no longer be coming from the British) saw the power of his younger Chinese-educated comrade.

Lim Chin Siong meets the Devil who would later go onto torture him by imprisonment.
As Chin Siong said, “The fact is that all of us were detained, without trial for ages. Not knowing when we would be coming out. That, I would say is a torture. A torture. You are detained for years, until such a time that you are willing to humiliate our own integrity. Until you are humiliated publicly. So much so, when you come out, you cannot put your head up, you cannot see your friends. Alright, then they may release you. It is a very cruel torture. It is worse than in Japanese time, when with a knife, they slaughter you. One shot, you die. But this humiliation will carry on for life. It is very cruel.”

From the above quote of Chin Siong you can see that what he meant is that after being locked away in a cell for years without trial, then it gets to the point that you will admit what the system wants you to admit in the hope that you can be set free. So he admitted back then that he was giving up politics for good and had repudiated "international communism" - he 'humiliated his own integrity' - meaning that he never was a communist to begin with and would not have given up politics if Lee Kuan Yew had not forced him to.

He died a broken man, 23 days short of his 63rd birthday in 1996 and forgotten by Singaporeans today.

"Arthur S.W.Lim, the well-known eye surgeon, recounted another experience of the youthful charisma and the powerful impact of Chin Siong's oratory of the period.
'There were 40, 000 people, each mesmerised by Lim Chin Siong's oratory. "The British say you cannot stand on your own two feet", he jeered, "Show them how you can stand!" And 40, 000 people leapt up - shining with sweat, fists in the air - shouting, Merdeka'..."
- Tan Jing Quee - From the book: Comet In Our Sky.

"My neighbour who was in her early 80's remembered Lim vividly. When I showed her the book, she immediately recognises him as Lim Chin Siong. She was telling me about the crowd that turned up at his rally, how hundreds and thousands of people waited along the road for his release from the prison."
"Lim Chin Siong would have been our Prime Minister if not for Lee Kuan Yew, I should say. However, if Lim were to become our PM instead of Lee, what will Singapore be? Is it going to be better or worse? Are we going to be more democratic as what we were deemed to be." Lee Lilian

Even within the PAP, "Lim eclipsed Lee Kuan Yew and other leaders in the popular following he commanded..."
But in his memoirs, The Singapore Story, published in 1998 Lee Kuan Yew condescendingly described Lim as "modest, humble and well-behaved, with a dedication to his cause that won my reluctant admiration and respect."

The truth is that Lee didn't have much of a choice. Lim Chin Siong was at the front, back and center of a political movement that commanded national attention. From all accounts, Lee would have been marginalized if his parasitic instincts had not been so acute.
Popular as he was locally, Lim Chin Siong did not confine his politics to within Singapore. Despite British efforts to isolate the island from anti-imperial movements that engulfed much of Empire, Lim would draw inspiration from liberation movements elsewhere in Africa and Asia.

His speeches in the early 1960s repeatedly made reference to events in the colonial world as well as to South Africa, Korea, and Turkey. This sense of internationalism had a "deep resonance" in Singapore.

The colonial government countered by censoring imported reading material. "This," writes Harper, "would continue, even intensify, after self-government as the PAP government increasingly saw itself as pitted against what Lee Kuan Yew was to term the ‘anti-colonialism' of global liberation movements."

In other words, Lee was not the hero who led the fight for Singapore's freedom. This might come as a shock to some but as declassified documents reveal, it was Lim Chin Siong who insisted that Singaporeans' freedom and independence were not for compromise.

It was also "what really caused the British authorities to consider [Lim] such a threat."

The talks collapse…

When David Marshall became the chief minister after his Labour Front won the elections in 1955, he organised a delegation to London the following year to negotiate independence from the British. Marshall included both Lim Chin Siong and Lee Kuan Yew in his team.

The chief minister fought hard, some say too hard, to wrest power from the British in the internal affairs of Singapore. He opposed Britain's power to appoint the police chief who in turn had power over the Special Branch, as it was then known. It was the Special Branch that gave the authorities the power of detention without trial.

The idea of retaining the power of internal security whilst granting self-government, Marshall accused the British, was like serving "Christmas pudding and arsenic sauce."

Lim Chin Siong supported the chief minister on this and demanded a constitution that transferred power to the local government with only defence and foreign relations left in British hands.

The British refused the demand and the talks collapsed. Marshall returned to Singapore frustrated and, amidst condemnation by Lee Kuan Yew, resigned as chief minister.

...Lim Chin Siong is detained…

Lim Yew Hock took over the position and led another visit to London the following year, which again included Lee Kuan Yew. But this time, Marshall and Lim Chin Siong were not part of the negotiating team.

More accurately, Lim Chin Siong could not go because Lim Yew Hock, as chief minister, had placed him under arrest, ostensibly for instigating a riot.

The episode began when Chief Minister Lim closed down a Chinese women's group and a musical association. A week later, he banned the Chinese Middle School Union which provoked further unhappiness with the locals.

Undeterred he arrested Chinese student leaders and shut down more organizations and schools, including the Chinese High School and the Chung Cheng High School. Given the already tense situation between the Chinese-speaking people and the colonial authorities, this was a highly provocative act.

At that time any Singaporean leader worth his salt could not have sat by idly. And so Lim Chin Siong came to the fore and spoke up for the students. The late Devan Nair, former Singapore president, joined in.
A 12-day stay-in was organised at one of the schools and Lim Chin Siong was scheduled to speak at a nearby park one evening.

It wasn't long before the police appeared and ringed the crowd. Suddenly a mob started throwing stones at the police who then charged with batons and tear-gas.

Violence erupted and spread, with police stations being attacked and cars burned. By the end of the chaos 2,346 people were arrested and more than a dozen Singaporeans were killed.

The blame was squarely pinned on Lim Chin Siong who was arrested.
But did Lim Chin Siong really cause the mayhem? Who was the "mob" that started attacking the police?

At that time, Chief Minister Lim made no bones that the Lim Chin Siong was the front man for the communists who had started the violence. Lim was arrested by the Special Branch the following day. Lim vehemently denied this accusation and countered that the chief minister was a colonial stooge. As declassified documents now reveal, Lim Chin Siong was largely right.

Entitled Extract from a note of a meeting between Secretary of State and Singapore Chief Minister, 12 December 1956, the archival note recorded that it was Chief Minister Lim who "had provoked the riots and this had enabled the detention of Lim Chin Siong."

Poulgrain even documents that full-scale military assistance was requested by prior arrangement. Singapore Governor, William Goode, acknowledged that the colonial government was not beyond employing the tactic of provoking a riot and then using the outcome to "achieve a desired political result."

Indeed, Poulgrain noted that "[Public Record Office] documents show these were the tactics of provocation that were employed in the 1956 riots that led to Lim Chin Siong's arrest."

A few weeks after Lim Chin Siong was behind bars, Lim Yew Hock visited London in December 1956 and was "warmly congratulated on the outcome by Alan Lennox-Boyd, Secretary of State for the Colonies."

And yet, in his memoirs, the Minister Mentor concludes that the Malayan Communist Party "in charge of Lim Chin Siong" were behind the whole affair and that Lim Yew Hock had purged Singapore of the communist ringleaders.
…and the (Singapore Independence) talks in Britain were resurrected.

Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng's testimony contradicts Lee Kuan Yew's assertion that the Malayan Communist Party was "in charge of Lim Chin Siong"...

Harold Crouch: What sort of relationship did the people who became the Barisan Socialis in Singapore have with your people in southern Thailand at that time? Had there been any contact at all?

Chin Peng: I think among them, there were some communists, there were some non communists, for example, Lee Siew Choh. We considered him as radical left.

Anthony Short: Lim Chin Siong never had any contact with the Party in southern Thailand, did he?

Chin Peng: I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Lim Chin Siong never admitted he was Communist Party member.
Anthony Reid: Was the Barisan Socialis under the control of the CPM (Communist Party of Malaya)?

Chin Peng: I don’t think we can control it from far away. It would depend on the man on the spot. They discussed among themselves and they coordinated their activities, not controlled from the Central. Take the case of the Singapore left wing, I don’t think they used the name of communists. They all regarded each other as left-wing figures, and then they discussed themselves, they coordinated their policy, and they decided.

Chin & Hack (eds)., Dialogues with Chin Peng,
(Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2004), pp. 190 – 192.
Chin Peng was the head of the Communist Party of Malaya

The above provides high level direct witness testimony that contradicts Lee Kuan Yew's assertion that: "The Malayan Communist Party in charge of Lim Chin Siong were behind the whole affair and that Lim Yew Hock had purged Singapore of the communist ringleaders."

And so in the 1957 with Lim Chin Siong under detention, Lim Yew Hock led the delegation to London. But during the negotiations, it was Lee who "played a crucial role in sweeping away the earlier obstacles to agreement on internal security by resurrecting the proposal for an Internal Security Council (ISC)."

The ISC was structured in a way that Britain and Malaya outweighed Singapore in the outfit. Why was the PAP supportive of such an arrangement?

Historian Simon Ball said it best: "Lee wanted an elected government but not one that could be blamed for suppressing its own citizens."

Even more damning was an archival "Top Secret" document that recorded: "Lee was confidentially said that he values the [Internal Security] Council as a potential ‘scape-goat' for unpopular measures he will wish to take against subversive activities."
But the PAP continues the charade. Recall what Dr Ow Chin Hock wrote in his letter in 1996 about the arrest of Lim Chin Siong and other Barisan leaders: "The [ISC] had a British chairman, two British members, one Malaysian members and three Singaporean members. Together these four non-Singaporeans outnumbered the three Singaporeans on the council."

In any event, unlike the one led by David Marshall, the negotiations in 1957 had little spine and gave away too much of Singaporeans' rights. As a result, both sides expeditiously reached an agreement for self-government, an agreement that Marshall called "tiga suku busok merdeka" (three-quarters rotten independence).

But self-government was not the only subject being discussed. On the side, the British also wanted to introduce a clause that would bar ex-detainees, or subversives as the authorities called them, from standing for elections.

Lee supported such a move – one that he would surely have known would cripple party comrade Lim Chin Siong's political career.

In his memoirs, however, Lee Kuan Yew wrote: "I objected to [the introduction of the clause] saying that ‘the condition is disturbing both because it is a departure from the democratic practice and because there is no guarantee that the government in power will not use this procedure to prevent not only the communist but also democratic opponents of their policy from standing for elections'."

A declassified British memo contradicts this: "Lee Kuan Yew was secretly a party with Lim Yew Hock in urging the Colonial Secretary to impose the ‘subversives ban'."
Perhaps this is not surprising as the British had noted that the "present leadership of the PAP is obsessed with the need to persuade the politically unsophisticated masses that the PAP is ‘on their side' and this involves demonstrating that the PAP is not a friend of the foreigner…"

And this is perhaps the reason why Lee told Britain's Secretary of State, Alan Lennox-Boyd: "I will have to denounce [the clause]. You will have to take responsibility."
London to the rescue…again

A few months after Lee returned from the constitutional talks in London in March 1957, the PAP conducted elections of its executive council. Lim Chin Siong was still under detention and could not challenge Lee for the party's leadership.

Lim's supporters, however, outnumbered Lee's rightwing faction and were elected to the executive council of the PAP.
The British, through Lim Yew Hock who was by then "viewed as an altogether more compliant tool of the security apparatus," ordered the arrest of Lim Chin Siong's supporters, thereby securing Lee Kuan Yew's continued control of the party.

Harper records, that despite Lee's protests against the crackdown of his party's leftwing, "not all were convinced of his innocence in the matter."

In his 1998 memoirs, Lee Kuan Yew describes the fateful detention of the PAP's leftwing leaders by giving much prominence to Lim Yew Hock's decision while adroitly playing down the role of the British.

After the talks in 1957, and given the stubbornness of Marshall and Lim in the 1956 talks, the British were persuaded that Lee was their man.

Another set of talks were arranged in May 1958 and thereafter "there was an unspoken assumption that the PAP would govern after the 1959 elections."

Writer T J S George repeated this observation that "repeated [British] intervention to ensure Lee Kuan Yew's political survival confirmed the feeling that Lee was by now Britain's chosen man for Singapore."

Poulgrain recounted his own experience with British intelligence officers who were operating in Singapore in the early 1960s. One told him about a group of officers who were listening in on Lee Kuan Yew making a speech, railing against British imperialism.

"The diatribe," Poulgrain writes, "brought only a jocular response from this group, one of whom openly commented that Lee was going a ‘bit over the top' considering that he was actually ‘working with us.'"

The historian states plainly that Lee Kuan Yew personified the essential long-term interests of the United Kingdom in Singapore.

Lee himself played up this position when he told the British government that the PAP was really London's "best ally."

The British agreed. Secret documents now show that London's assessment was that Lim Chin Siong was increasingly bringing pressure to bear on Her Majesty's Government and "unless forestalled by Lee, may well be able to make the pressure decisive."

Lee was grateful. He indicated that "he and his other reputed moderates in the PAP regard the continued presence of the British in Singapore as an assurance for themselves."

From then on, despite the British concerns of Lee's "totalitarian streak that rides roughshod over all opposition or criticism", Lee's PAP and London "became locked closer together."

The section below provides great detail of what happened within the PAP as the split between the right and left wing was happening, this section is taken from:

(some of the original English grammar has been improved in this version)

The Dilemma and Shrewdness of LKY
In the run-up to 1959 elections, the PAP was in a dilemma. The Party was to be led into the elections by LKY and his Right Wong colleagues. But they needed the Left Wing leaders, who were in prison to attract the following of the masses.

“It was at that point that Kuan Yew played his political cards superbly,” remembers Devan Nair. “It was masterly. He is politically very, very shrewd. He came to the jail and told us, look, I’m not gong to stand for elections unless I am satisfied that you are really committed to the ideal of a free, democratic, socialist and non-communist Malaya. And you are committed to the policies of the PAP. So Chin Siong, Woodhull, Fong and so on, gave verbal assurances. We knew that if the PAP didn’t form the next government we would continue to be in the jug (aka jail). But if the PAP did win, in 1959 and if PAP formed the next government, then we would be released and we could start our union work again.”

“But Kuan Yew was too smart. He said, “No, put it down in writing.” And I (Devan Nair) told them, “Yes, if we are sincere, we ought to put it down in writing.” And the more important of which was The Ends and Means of Malayan Socialism”, said Devan. They all signed and committed themselves to the PAP. This enabled LKY to run for office on a platform which demanded their immediate release. The trade unions mobilized their mass muscles, putting the PAP into power by a landslide. The PAP formed the government with LKY as the Prime Minister.
Lim Chin Siong and his colleagues, released from jail amidst a flurry of doves, were tucked into obscurity as Political Secretaries in the Ministries.

Cracks and Split in PAP
As the PAP government settled into power, the uneasy union between the Left and Right continued. The first sign of trouble was Devan Nair’s resignation from the Education Ministry. “I went to Kuan Yew and told him, “Look, I meant every word of The Ends and Means of Malayan Socialism. But I am afraid that my friends are not sincere. I don’t want to be caught in a situation where I’ll be fighting with my friends. So I want to leave. I’m resigning.” He went to St Andrew’s School where he became a teacher there instead.

The next crack came when one of the most powerful members in PAP, Ong Eng Guan, the Minister of National Development and one of the three representatives on the Internal Security Council, published an attack on PAP. He accused the party leadership of being “undemocratic” and “dictatorial”. The Party responded by sacking him from the PAP and he was stripped of his seat in Hong Lim and all his other positions.

He defiantly stood as an Independent in the Hong Lim by-elections and gave the PAP candidate, Jek Yuen Thong, a sound beating. Ong was fluent in dialect and Mandarin; a rarity amongst the English educated. Despite the PAP sending the charismatic Lim Chin Siong to speak at the mass rally at Hong Lim, Ong Eng Guan still won.

This is not the end of the crisis for PAP. On June 1961, Lim Chin Siong wrote to Dr Toh, demanding the release of their Left Wing political colleagues. PAP could not agree to this with their prior agreements with the British. The beginning of the split between Left and Right was the Anson By-elections on July 1961. The Left demanded “internal democracy in the PAP” and the release of all political prisoners from detention. They were refused. The Left then threw their support to the rival candidate, David Marshall and he won.

The final split came just a few days later in the Legislative Assembly. Thirteen Left Wing PAP Assemblymen abstained from voting with the party line. They were dismissed from the PAP. In August 1961, they formed a rival party, the Barisan Sosialis, led by Dr Lee Siew Choh and Lim Chin Siong. They took 35 branch committees, 19 of the 23 organizing secretaries and an estimated 80 percent of the membership. PAP under LKY was a mere shell, according to Dr Lee.

The Last Breathe of Hope for PAP
The Singapore government was on the verged of being toppled. Every session, the opposition would motion of no confidence. But across the shores, the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, Tengku Abdul Rahman, watched the events and feared that Singapore was about to become a Communist State, a “second Cuba” and a danger to Malaya. Thus, this was the start of the intense and frantic, Battle for Merger.

Barisan Sosialis held sway in Singapore but it knew that in a wider Malaysia they would be crushed. On the other hand, PAP needed Malaysia to break the Barisan’s hold on the Singapore Electorate. Thus, they enlisted Malayan Tengku and the British as allies, playing on their long standing fear of Communism.

On July 1962, the Barisan Sosialis, led by David Marshall and Dr Lee Siew Choh, appealed against the merger in the United Nations in New York. The Merger Referendum, issued in 1962, was testimony to the murkiness of the Battle. It was deliberately ambiguous. It asked voters to choose what kind of merger they wanted, not whether indeed they wished for a merger. All spoilt votes were to be counted as votes in favour of merger. With this controversial tactic, the PAP won the Battle for Merger.

Tengku then decided to clean out 'Communism' with “Operation Cold Store”. Hundreds of arrests were made and effectively decapitated the Left Wing Barisan Sosialis. A snap election was called, under the protection of the Malaysian Security Council,it produced a clear PAP victory. The Barisan, with most of their leaders in prison, garnered only 13 out of 51 seats. On September 1963, the PAP government had won its battle against the Left.

Part II: Get him!

In the next instalment read how an emboldened Lee Kuan Yew, with British backing, officially breaks with Lim Chin Siong.


In his memoirs, Lee wrote that "Lim Chin Siong wanted to eliminate the Internal Security Council because he knew that…if it ordered the arrest and detention of the communist leaders, the Singapore government could not be held responsible and be stigmatized a colonial stooge."

What the Minister Mentor did not say, but what Harper reveals in his chapter, is shockingly contradictory: "In mid-1961, therefore, to seek a way out, Lee suggested to the British that his government should order the release of all [the remaining] detainees, but then have that order countermanded in the ISC by Britain and Malaya."

Such a craven act was even rebuffed by the British. The acting Commissioner, Philip Moore, stated that the British should not be "party to a device for deliberate misrepresentation of responsibility for continuing detentions in order to help the PAP government remain in power." (emphasis added)

Part II: Get him!
9 Jul 07

After securing control of the PAP with the aid of the British, Lee Kuan Yew was still left with the problem of the detained Lim Chin Siong and his supporters.

This was a source of embarrassment for him. Seeing this, Lee announced that he would secure the release of his party comrades before taking office if the PAP won the elections in 1959.

Behind the scenes, Lee negotiated and secured the private agreement of then British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan that the prisoners would be released by promising that he (Lee) would "move against them if they departed from the party line."

In return for promising to secure their release, Lee had secured Lim Chin Siong's and other detainees' pledges of allegiance to the party's manifesto.

In truth the PAP and the British themselves were playing fast and loose with the law. The affair confirmed suspicions that all the backroom dealings was for political ends, not national security.

In any event, Lee assigned Lim – who, if not for all the machinations, would have been the leader of the PAP and prime minister – the post of political secretary in the ministry of finance, the Siberia of politics at that time.

Following their election victory in 1959, the PAP government released eight left wing leaders, including Lim Chin Siong on 4 June 1959, after ensuring that they were excluded from participation in the parliamentary elections to the central committee. Five were appointed as political secretaries, but with little real substantial power to initiate or influence polices. More significantly, none of them were made cadre members, which meant that they would never be in any position to challenge the leadership in future party elections. When Chin Siong was released, he was only 26 years old.

Question: If Lim Chin Siong had really been the one who started the riots in 1956, shouldn't he have been charged and imprisoned, rather then released?

As blogger Thrasymachus said, from , "Here, LKY played his political cards to perfection. Being the solicitor of the detainees, he was seen as the freer of the oppressed. Putting Chin Siong and the rest in political office, he could ride their popularity amongst the Chinese population without giving Chin Siong and the rest any power. In that, LKY would not be threatened by his popular rival, but not for long."

In the meantime, detentions without trial continued under the new Lee government and the ISC continued to be used as a front for the PAP's acts.

An indecent proposal

Fed-up with Lee's autocratic style and the delay of releasing the remaining detainees, PAP MP and mayor Ong Eng Guan denounced the government for its dictatorial methods and moved a motion in the Legislative Assembly to abolish the ISC.

Harper wrote that because of the secrecy under which the ISC operated "not all members of Lee's cabinet were aware that the Singapore government had not pressed for the releases since early 1960."

In his memoirs, Lee wrote that "Lim Chin Siong wanted to eliminate the Internal Security Council because he knew that…if it ordered the arrest and detention of the communist leaders, the Singapore government could not be held responsible and be stigmatized a colonial stooge."

What the Minister Mentor did not say, but what Harper reveals in his chapter, is shockingly contradictory: "In mid-1961, therefore, to seek a way out, Lee suggested to the British that his government should order the release of all [the remaining] detainees, but then have that order countermanded in the ISC by Britain and Malaya."

Such a craven act was even rebuffed by the British. The acting Commissioner, Philip Moore, stated that the British should not be "party to a device for deliberate misrepresentation of responsibility for continuing detentions in order to help the PAP government remain in power." (emphasis added)

Moore suggested that the best solution would be "to release all the detainees forthwith." Lee, however, "was unwilling to present the left with such a victory."
In a most damning indictment, Moore said that Lee "has lived a lie about the detainees for too long, giving the Party the impression that he was pressing for their release while, in fact, agreeing in the ISC that they should remain in detention."

And if one thought that Lee Kuan Yew could not sink any lower, he did. He turned to his saviours and warned that should he lose in an upcoming by-election, he would call for a general election, which he fully expected to lose.

This was because he was facing defections in the Legislative Assembly on his refusal to release the remaining detainees. And should he lose the elections, he warned the colonial masters, David Marshall, Ong Eng Guan and Lim Chin Siong would form the next government.

This, he calculated, would be so distasteful to the British that it would rally them to his side.

He presented the scheme at a dinner with Commissioner Lord Selkirk, Philip Moore (Selkirk's deputy), and Goh Keng Swee: Lee would order the release of the prisoners, the British would stop it through the ISC, and he would then announce a referendum on merger with Malaya (the story behind merger is explained below).

This would provoke opposition from his party mates as well as Lim's supporters whom he would then banish to Malaya.

A 1961 memo between the then Commission in Singapore and the Colonial Office in London revealed that Lee calculated that this move "would force Lim Chin Siong to reveal his hand completely and resort to direct action, in which event the Singapore Government would relinquish power and allow the British or the Federation to take over Singapore."

In short, Lee was willing to sacrifice the efforts to secure the independence of Singapore to achieve his own political ends!
As it turned out, Selkirk wanted to have nothing to do with the "unsavoury" proposal.

Merger – on one condition

At about this time, Malaya's Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman revived the idea of a federation of Malaysia consisting of the Borneo territories (now Sarawak, Sabah, and Brunei), Malaya (now peninsular Malaysia), and Singapore.

In exchange for territorial concessions in Borneo, the Tunku as the head of the federation would allow Britain to maintain a strategic presence in Singapore.

The proposal was put forward because the Tunku was having problems of his own with the left in Malaya. This was not helped by the strength of Lim Chin Siong's left in Singapore. Kuala Lumpur saw the necessity of crippling Lim's support and wanted Lee to be its hit-man.

For the British, the idea of a Malaysian federation was an acceptable compromise because it allowed London to maintain influence in the region while relinquishing its colony which it was going to lose anyway given the irresistible anti-colonial sentiment fanning the globe at that time.

As for Lee Kuan Yew, the idea was heaven sent. Harper documents that Lee saw the Tunku's concept of a "Malaysia" as crucial to his own political survival because of the growing strength of the left.

The left's strength was amply demonstrated when Lee's rightwing faction lost two by-elections in quick succession – the first to Ong Eng Guan in April 1961 (Hong Lim) and the second three months later to David Marshall (Anson).

Lee was rattled. Then PAP chairman, Toh Chin Chye, recalled: "He was quite shocked. He drew me aside after the results were announced and asked me what to do. I said, 'Hang on!'"

Toh also revealed that Lee had written to him that "the trade unions, the Middle Road crowd wanted him to resign" and that they wanted him to replace Lee as the prime minister.
Toh did not recommend Lee's resignation. But the reason he gave was that it "would divide the government and it would appear to the people of Singapore that we were being unsteady," hardly a ringing endorsement of Lee's leadership.

These developments precipitated an open split between Lee and Lim Chin Siong. Lim's group suspected – correctly – that Lee was up to no good in his pursuit of merger with Malaysia and they openly called for the abolition of the ISC.

In July 1961, legislative assemblymen, parliamentary/organising secretaries, and members of the PAP split from the party and formed the Barisan Sosialis. Lee's party was shaved to bare bones.

At the time, Harper writes, "there was an immense political momentum, a sense that the future lay with the Barisan Sosialis."

Even then, Lim Chin Siong never wavered in his commitment to governing Singapore in a democratic way when he wrote in a press statement that "any constitutional arrangement must not mean a setback for the people in terms of freedom and democracy."

This contrasts with the PAP's demonisation of Lim as a front for the communist out to destroy the democratic way.

Closing in on Lim

Meanwhile In Malaya the Tunku insisted that Lee re-arrest Lim Chin Siong before he would allow Singapore into the federation.

One of the reasons was because if the detention was conducted after merger, the Kuala Lumpur government would be responsible for it and it would be seen as cracking down on the Chinese in Singapore, increasing communal tensions.

As for Lee's part, he saw the detention of Lim as his trump card and wanted to secure the merger first before he moved against the Barisan leader; Abdul Rahman would have no incentive to proceed with merger once the threat of Lim was removed.

But the Tunku was firm: No detention of Lim, no merger. Lee knew he had to act.

And so a two-part plan was hatched to bait Lim and colleagues: "In the first phase, the Barisan would be harassed by the police and the government. This was designed to provoke it into unconstitutional action, which would initiate a second phase of detentions, restrictions and other actions to be sanctioned by the ISC."

Lim's opposition of allowing the British to retain powers of detention during the constitutional talks in 1956 rang truer than ever and Marshall's colourful description of "Christmas pudding and arsenic sauce" were beginning to sound very apt.

The diabolical scheme was vehemently opposed by the British Commission in Singapore. Lord Selkirk told his superiors in London that "in fact I believe that both of them (Abdul Rahman and Lee Kuan Yew) wish to arrest the effective political opposition and blame us for doing so."

In the months leading up to Lim's arrest, Selkirk wrote to his superiors in London again, imploring them not to cooperate with Lee:

"Lee is probably very much attracted to the idea of destroying his political opponents. It should be remembered that there is behind all this a very personal aspect…he claims he wishes to put back in detention the very people who were released at his insistence – people who are intimate acquaintances, who have served in his government, and with whom there is a strong sense of political rivalry which transcends ideological differences."

Contrast this to what Lee wrote in his memoirs in 1998: "Lim Chin Siong…knew that if he went beyond certain limits, [the ISC] would act…"

Lim need not have gone "beyond certain limits" as declassified documents now reveal, Lee was determined to put him in prison, communist or not, limits or no.

More shamefully, Lee will not admit that he was the one who had pushed for Lim's detention.

Selkirk's deputy, Philip Moore, reviewed intelligence reports and concluded that there were no security reasons to detain Lim Chin Siong: "Lim is working very much on his own and that his primary objective is not the Communist millennium but to obtain control of the constitutional government of Singapore."
But London was determined not to allow democratic scruples from getting in the way of its strategic presence in Southeast Asia. It acquiesced to Lee's plan.

Part III: The end of Lim Chin Siong

The next instalment will examine the treatment of Lim Chin Siong in Lee Kuan Yew's hands. More evidence of Lim's persecution.

Part III: The end of Lim Chin Siong
9 Jul 07

In February 1963 the ISC, under the direction of Lee, ordered Operation Coldstore where 113 opposition leaders, trade unionists, journalists, and student leaders who supported the left were arrested. Top of the list was, of course, Lim Chin Siong.

Historian Matthew Jones recorded that the arrests "primarily reflected the imperative felt by the decision-makers in London to respond to the needs and demands of the nationalist elites."

Not for the first time, the British had come to the rescue of Lee Kuan Yew.

Behind bars, torture and psychological abuse were meted out in liberal doses. Amnesty International documented much of this in a report in 1981.
The state of Lim Chin Siong under detention makes for sordid reading. According to (the late) Dennis Bloodworth, Lim came close to taking his own life while in detention. He had gone into depression. In 1965, when he was at the Singapore General Hospital Lim tried to hang himself from a pipe in the toilet. He was rescued just in time. After he recovered he was sent back to prison.

His view on detention without trial is very disturbing, showing that Lee Kuan Yew's methods of ruling are barbaric:

“The fact is that all of us were detained, without trial for ages. Not knowing when we would be coming out. That, I would say is a torture. A torture. You are detained for years, until such a time that you are willing to humiliate our own integrity. Until you are humiliated publicly. So much so, when you come out, you cannot put your head up, you cannot see your friends. Alright, then they may release you. It is a very cruel torture. It is worse than in Japanese time, when with a knife, they slaughter you. One shot, you die. But this humiliation will carry on for life. It is very cruel.”

Four years later after suffering in Lee's prison, he penned a letter to his former comrade-turned-arch-enemy and capitulated, saying that he had "finally come to the conclusion to give up politics for good" and repudiated the "international communist movement."

Siong remained in jail and suffered severe depressions, until physically broken and mentally traumatized. After he announced his decision to quit politics and was exiled in London (in 28 July 1969), his physical health ruined and his political life destroyed, he married Wong Chui Wan in London, in 1970,they had two sons. He struggled earning a living doing odd jobs and would continue to suffer bouts of depression. He never recovered. In 1979, he decided to return to Singapore and stayed in Serangoon Gardens until his death in 5 February 1996.

Even then, Lee banished Lim to London in 1969 and allowed him to return to Singapore only ten years later.What kind of treatment Lim received at the hands of his foes that turned him from a spirited and charismatic national leader who walked tall among his people into a forlorn political non-entity, Singaporeans can only imagine. For Lim is not talking, he passed away in February 1996, forever carrying his secrets with him to his grave..

Lim Chin Siong, right, selling fruits in Bayswater, London, 1970s. If he really was a communist why was he working in private enterprise selling fruits and vegetables, why didn't he go to China and join Mao Tse Tung?

It was not Britain's finest hour. Far from the honest-broker that everyone had expected Britain to be, the UK Government had actively engineered Lim's downfall and Lee Kuan Yew's capture of the prime ministership.

As it is, the historic account is hardly a heroic tale of the PAP's courageous triumph over the Barisan, as official accounts would have us believe.
Instead, declassified documents now show that it was a sad tale of private dealings and cowardly machinations for the attainment of power.

At his funeral which overflowed with his former Barisan comrades and supporters, eulogies recounting Lim's selfless dedication to a free and democratic Singapore were read. As his casket was pushed into the furnace, a thunderous and defiant applause resounded.

Referendum: To merger or to merge?

After having fulfilled his promise to Tunku Abdul Rahman to arrest Lim Chin Siong before merger, Lee set his sights on taking Singapore into Malaysia. He called for a referendum to obtain the people's mandate for the move, a decision that Britain and the Tunku objected to.

A referendum was hardly necessary as Lim and other Barisan leaders were behind bars. One suspects that a vote was needed to give the PAP the mandate to move in this direction.

Indeed Lee, with not little false bravado, wrote in his memoirs: "I remained determined that there should be referendum."

Democratic? Hardly. Instead of asking Singaporeans to vote for ‘yes' or ‘no' to merger, Lee proposed a ballot that allowed the people to vote only for merger under three options:

Do you want merger?
A. in accordance with the white paper, or
B. on the basis of Singapore as a constituent state of the Federation of Malaya, or
C. on terms no less favourable than those given to the three Borneo territories?

And so after the referendum in September 1962, Singapore moved one step closer to becoming a part of an independent Malaysia.

Regrettable but necessary?

Lee Kuan Yew, would have us believe as he wrote in his memoirs, that the use of detention without trial was "most regrettable but, from my personal knowledge of the communists, absolutely necessary."

Harper dismisses this argument: "It was…inadmissible to argue, as Lee Kuan Yew did, that the exercise of these powers was ‘regrettable', but dictated by historical necessity."

The truth is that "through this adversity…the Barisan Sosialis still adhered to constitutional tactics."

Indeed, in the entire campaign to cripple the opposition, Lee Kuan Yew and his rightwing PAP faction has repeatedly resorted to using desperate measures of detention without trial, brazenly accusing his opponents of being a front for the communists.

Harper makes it even more explicit:

"After 1959, Lee Kuan Yew had urged the necessity of defeating the radical left through open democratic argument, whilst trying to provoke them into extra-legal action. The left, however, had not been deflected from constitutional struggle. Therefore, from mid-1962 at least, Lee concluded that this confrontation could only be resolved by resort to special powers that lay beyond the democratic process. This merely exposed the extent to which the crisis, as the British argued, a political one, and not a security one."

The last chapter

Lim Chin Siong's fight for Singapore may have come to a close, but another one is just beginning – the fight for history to be written the way it should be.

Declassified secret papers are beginning to provide a glimpse into what really took place during the 1950s and 60s, especially in the behind-the-scenes dealings.

Beginning with Comet In Our Sky more will be revealed. But as Harper tells us "many files remain closed and many files that have been released have had key documents ‘retained' by the original government department." These include key documents on Lim Chin Siong's detention in Operation Coldstore in 1963.

As the real story emerges, the Singapore Democrats will play our part to urge this process along – in cyberspace – thus ensuring that the memory of Lim Chin Siong and what he and his Barisan colleagues did for Singapore will forever remain with us.

End of a Great Singaporean

This is crucial as our past is still our present. Lim had argued that arbitrary powers of detention without trial, in whoever's hands be they white or yellow, will continue to make Singapore unfree and our struggle for independence elusive.

"The people ask for fundamental democratic rights," he argued, "but what have they got? They have only got freedom of firecrackers after seven o'clock in the evening. The people ask for bread and they have been given stones instead."

More than half a century later, can any Singaporeans say with hand on heart that Lim Chin Siong was not right?

Chin Siong - Malaysia 1995 - a few months before he died. At his funeral his children were surprised at government officials showing up to pay tribute, which shows that Chin Siong never talked to his children about his fame and adornment from the Singaporean people when he was a young man. Once Lee Kuan Yew's thugs got hold of him for years in prison, they obviously 'demolished' (a term Lee likes to use in referrence to his treatment of any challengers to his power) his essense, destroyed his spirit - no doubt through similar methods that lawyer Gopalan Nair experienced in June 2008 when he was put into Lee's prison where he had to sleep with a bare light on 24 hrs, on a hard cold floor (no bed) and no blanket, leading to shivering and on top of this, Chin Siong would have had to endure psychologically abusive interrogation and maybe even physical beatings - the end result was that for the rest of his life he was afraid to even talk to his own children about how great he had once been. Sad, very sad.

For another very good article on Lim Chin Siong also see:

Comet in our Sky: Lim Chin Siong in History
Editor: Tan Jing Quee & Jomo K. S.
Publisher: Selangor Darul Ehsan (Malaysia)
170 pp. B&W photos.
ISBN: 983-9602-14-4
Available: Select BooksThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

This is a compilation of several efforts to critically understand and appreciate the significant role and legacy of the late Lim Chin Siong in the political history of Singapore. He was undoubtedly the most prominent left wing leader in Singapore in the 1950's and 60's. Academics and close political friends in Malaysia and Singapore attempt to give a balanced and objective account of Lim's contribution to post-war history in Singapore and Malaysia.

Comet in our Sky brings together a collection of twelve essays, poems and memorials offering a multi-faceted view of the life and times of the late Lim Chin Siong, Singapore's former trade unionist and socialist parliamentarian whose political career was first curtailed and then cut short by arrests and detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Book Review by Francis Seow: Comet In Our Sky: Lim Chin Siong

Important Book with a Tale to Tell
Book Review:
by Cheah Boon Kheng
The New Straits Times (Malaysia)
21 Jul 01

Lim Chin Siong, the vanquished other hero of Singapore's political history. A man who stayed true to his cause and an architect of our struggle against colonialism. In his honour, KS Jomo and Tan Jing Quee have edited a book which is a collection of essays, poems and speeches in a tribute to a great leader who never got true recognition in our history books. History will be re-written for you cannot keep the truth from surfacing forever. Read this review and buy the book, we believe only in Malaysia. But we will try Borders and tell you the results.

Lim Chin Siong - our other hero In place of a full-length biography, these separate individual accounts and memoirs from Britain, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore represent a composite story of Lim's life and politics, especially when he was a young rising star in Singapore's political firmament in the 1950's and 1960's.

Lee Kuan Yew, who had founded the People's Action Party with Lim Chin Siong, introduced him to David Marshall, then Singapore's Chief Minister, as "our future Prime Minister" in 1955. Lim's bright career however, was abruptly destroyed before he could realise its full potential.

It was during his third imprisonment, says his friend Dr M.K. Rajakumar, that Lim was "destroyed, both psychologically and politically". He had a nervous breakdown, became depressed and suicidal. In 1969, in this state of depression, he was released from detention after announcing that he would quit politics.

He was allowed to leave for exile in London, and did not return to Singapore again until 1979. He died of a heart attack in 1996 at the age of 62.

Essays by Lim's close friends, especially Tan Jing Quee and Dr M.K. Rajakumar, add an intimate touch and tell an inspiring story of his rapid climb to popularity and as undisputed leader of Chinese workers, trade unions and Chinese middle school students in the 1950s.

He is described as a slim, youthful figure, selfless, dedicated, with a handsome boyish face whose oratory as a speaker in Hokkien among the Chinese masses was legendary.

In his political memoir The Singapore Story, Lee offered ungrudging praise to Lim's "hypnotic" oratory: "...a ringing voice that flowed beautifully in his native Hokkien. The girls adored him, especially those in the trade unions. Once he got going after a cold start at the first two meetings, there was tremendous applause every time he spoke. By the end of the campaign, Lim Chin Siong was seen as a charismatic figure and a person to be reckoned with in Singapore politics and, what was of more immediate concern, within the PAP."

In 1955 Lim had been elected as Singapore's youngest parliamentarian. However, a year later, after widespread riots involving industrial workers and Chinese school students, he was arrested and imprisoned on charges of being one of the leaders of the "communist united front" alleged to have been behind the riots.

Lim's own reputation was a further casualty to the riots' mayhem and bloodshed, and he was detained without trial. He denied charges that he was a communist, charges which remain unsubstantiated.

In a startling and revisionist essay, Dr Greg Poulgrain of Griffiths University observes that the British Governor of Singapore and his Chief Secretary in their reports to London had admitted that the police could find no evidence to establish that Lim was a communist.
Poulgrain claims it was actually Singapore's then Chief Minister, Lim Yew Hock, who had deliberately "provoked" the bus and other industrial workers and Chinese middle students to riot in 1956 in order to have Lim Chin Siong arrested.

Lim Yew Hock's own admission to responsibility for the riot appears in an official report to the British Government which Poulgrain found in the Colonial Office records in London which are now open to researchers.

"Lee Kuan Yew was secretly a party with Lim Yew Hock," adds Poulgrain, "in urging the Colonial Secretary to impose the subversives ban in making it illegal for former political detainees to stand for election."

In 1959, while Lim was in prison, the PAP won the general elections under which Lee became Prime Minister, and Singapore was granted self-government by the British in all matters except for internal security, defence and external affairs.

Although Lim and other leftist political detainees were released from prison, their co-operation and alliance with Lee ended in 1961 due to disagreements over policies and strategies.

Until then the media presented the PAP as a leftwing party, indicating the pervasive and dominant influence of Lim's faction within and outside the party. Their rivalry was intense and ideological. Lee finally resorted to arrests to remove Lim and his faction.

When Lim and other political detainees such as Fong Swee Suan and S. Woodhull were released, they were appointed Political Secretaries. But the honeymoon was soon over.

The PAP split in 1961 saw Lim taking away with him almost the entire PAP branches and personnel to form and lead a new party, the Barisan Socialis (Socialist Front).

Not long after this, the Barisan campaigned to oppose the formation of Malaysia which involved Singapore's merger with Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya on the grounds that Lee Kuan Yew had not sought more favourable terms for Singapore.

The Malaysia plan, mooted by Malaya's then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, was endorsed by the British Government which had agreed to relinquish its rule of the other three territories.

Fearing the increasing communist influence said to be behind the Barisan, Lee and the Tunku put pressure on the British authorities to arrest Lim and other leftists in Singapore for their opposition to Malaysia. On Feb 2, 1961 the police, under Operation Cold Store, detained over 100 people, including Lim.

In another essay British historian Dr T.N. Harper discloses that these arrests were initially opposed by top officials in the British Commission in Singapore during meetings of the tripartite Internal Security Council with representatives from the governments of Singapore, Malaya and Britain.

The British Commissioner in Singapore, the Earl of Selkirk, and his deputy, Philip Moore, had argued that such arrests would not only be undemocratic and unfair, but also failed to take into account that Lim and his party had been engaged in constitutional struggle.

The Commissioner's arguments for democracy and fair play were quite extraordinary and out of line with London's official thinking, but were eventually rejected by superior officials in London, especially the British Secretary of State.

The mood at the time of Lim's arrest during Operation Cold Store has been likened to "white terror", vividly described in a dedicatory poem by Tan Jing Quee, a former trade unionist who is now a lawyer and who himself was later detained on charges of being involved in communist united front activities:

On the second day of February thunder raged through frightened streets lightning blighted all lamps

In essays by other close friends, especially those by Dr M.K. Rajakumar, A. Samad Ismail, A. Mahadeva, Dr Lim Hock Siew and Said Zahari, details of Lim's personal health, suffering, character and political past are brought to light, especially his kind, friendly, charming and charismatic qualities.

To most Singaporeans, their memory of Lim is that of a broken man, a rising star that burnt out. But Tan Jing Quee recalls that Lim "pulled himself out of the depths of despair. Unknown to many people, he made a remarkable recovery."

One cannot help but be moved by Lim Chin Siong's tragic story in Comet in Our Sky, where he appears as Singapore's alternative hero to Lee Kuan Yew.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Singapore: Democracy or Dictatorship?

Modern Singapore

Mid 20th Century Singapore as the British left it

Singapore as it was Mid 20th Century (lower picture) - already a developed economy, the greatest port of South Asia by 1900, dominating the sea routes to India and Australiasia, one of the crown jewels in the British Empire until the mid 20th Century. Founded in 1819 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles of the East India Company, it was by the 1900’s being used by some 50 shipping lines. Situated at the foot of the Malay peninsula, it was the outlet to the world for the thriving Malayan rubber and tin industries.The bulk of its population was made up of Chinese immigrants, a few of whom had amassed great fortunes, many men had come to work temporarily, leaving their families behind.

The British Empire was expanding in Malaya chiefly for economic reasons. The growth of the motor-car industry in the 1900’s meant a rapidly rising demand for Malaya’s main commercial crop, rubber - the world’s largest supplier. British planters carved new rubber estates out of the jungle. Manning the estates was an agreeable, profitable activity for the planters, and to work the plantations, a vast labour force of Chinese and Indians was imported. (The Malayans on the whole preferred to work their own land rather than enter paid employment.)
Malaya (as it was known then) and Singapore became a hodge-podge of peoples: Hindu gongs and Chinese fire crackers sounded, and the smells of Indian curry and Chinese roast pork mingled.
Information from -

"Singapore also became a regional center for the distribution of European manufactured goods. After World War I, when the British established a naval base on the island, Singapore became a key element of the British Commonwealth of Nations military defense east of India, thus adding the naval support industry to the island's economy."

"In the period immediately after World War II, Singapore faced enormous problems, including labor and social unrest, a decaying, war-ravaged infrastructure, inadequate housing and community facilities, a slow economic growth rate, low wages, and high unemployment made worse by a rapidly expanding population. As late as 1959, the unemployment rate was estimated at 13.5 percent. The struggle for survival in the postwar period deeply affected the economic decision making of Singapore's first generation leaders."

In a forum on the American PBS network Lee Kuan Yew said that after the British Empire broke up after WWII all the countries went their own way in regards to shipping, so Singapore's once busy port was suffering (whether this was due to competition from other countries or a generally depressed market after WWII or both is another issue) and something had to be done to make Singapore a stronger economy again, that is all good but the issue of civil rights and real Democracy are important as well, what of Lee's road kill, his opponents since 1959, how well did their lives turn out? Lee Kuan Yew wants Singapore to be like western Europe's finest liberal countries from a cultural perspective, you cannot have a flourishing culture like those countries when you have political repression and injustice, it stiffles the whole mood of artistic expression and beauty.

Lee Kuan Yew came to power in 1959 using the Representative Parliamentary Democratic system the British had slowly agreed to put in place before Lee became a politician, and after another Singapore political party leader, Lim Yew Hock with Lee at his side, had negotiated independence for Singapore. Lim Chin Siong (see other article on this site about him) was a very popular leader that Lee originally courted but eventually jailed for questionable leftist charges and ruined Lim's career, most likely to get the serious competition for power out of the way, which has been Lee's way of operating since the beginning. Singapore would have become a more humanitarian society with real democracy if Lim Chin Siong had become its leader back then. Lim Chin Siong was a strong Singapore Nationalist, he was the George Washington of Singapore fighting against British rule.

Lee and his top ministers then set Singapore on a path to a stronger economy, including inviting foreign corporations in to set up manufacturing of technology and embarking on a massive social housing program that allowed Singaporeans to own government built housing at affordable prices. Lee also began oppressing any serious opposition, including jailing and bankrupting them, thereby denying other Singaporeans the same democratic rights that originally led to Lee's power to represent Singaporeans in the Parliament.

Lee and his government argue that they have managed the economy well since 1959, that Singaporeans are better educated and have better jobs now. Those past years during the cold war communist years made it easier for Singapore to compete, to be America's branch plant economy. Now with China, India and many other south east Asian countries competing it is more difficult for Singapore to compete.

Whether the PAP's strategy of attracting bio technology, pharmacitical and financial industries will be enough to keep the Singapore economy strong remains to be seen, some critics such a Gopalan Nair argue these ideas have already failed. Information on Wikipedia seems to contradict Gopalan Nair and shows that Singapore's economy still had strong growth in 2007 with government projections for more growth in coming years:

Critics of the government complain that many Singaporeans are falling behind now, that poverty is increasing (elderly scrounging through garbage and sleeping on sidewalks) while the government has become greedier for themselves. They are not setting a good example, their multi-million dollar salaries are far greater than other countries politicians are paid, especially relative to the gross domestic product that they are managing as compared with countries like the USA, Britain, Germany, Japan etc. Being in government is different than running a private company, government is always there and ultimately they own everything, if a company goes bankrupt their holdings go back to the government, therefore there is less risk and pressure to be a government member than a private executive, that is why there has traditionally been greater compensation for private executives.

Lee's People's Action Party has remained in power for half a century, and for all practical purposes killing Singapore's Democracy. Recently increasing minister's pay to millions of dollars per year, further distancing PAP members of parliament from most Singaporeans and making entering a level playing field impossible for Singaporeans wanting to enter into politics in opposition to the ruling party. Well paid sycophantic judges enforce the PAP's monopoly on power with the assistance of a compliant police and military. The original form of British Democracy is now degraded to an empty shell with no substance.

We should honour Dr. Chee Soon Juan Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and his sister Chee Siok Chin for sacrificing their lives to the cause of true democracy.

We should also honour the brave actions of Lawyer Gopalan Nair the arrested Singaporean and American lawyer who is the author of:

These men and women and many other Singaporeans past and present are to be congratulated for their efforts towards a more just and democratic society in Singapore.

Lee Kwan Yew has made the absurd accusation that Dr. Chee Soon Juan is "near psychotic". Any rational person can see and read on the internet that Dr. Chee is a very sane and decent person that has sacrificed his life by going up against the tyrant and despot Lee Kwan Yew. Perhaps Mr. Lee should be known as the Mental Minister since he is now claiming to be a qualified psychologist. If anyone is psychotic it is Mr. Lee who is so mentally deranged that he desperately clings to power, inventing a new title for himself 'mentor minister' so that Singapore's mafia boss never really steps aside.

Lee Kwan Yew made the statement that if he and his government considered someone a real threat they would have bankrupted them long ago. This is the statement of a tyrant who openly admits that he will bankrupt any serious opposition to his reign of oppression, as he has done many times. He then continues to hold fake and rigged elections so as to pretend to be a legitimate ruler with support from the people.

The early democracy that was granted to Singapore, (as its real founder Sir Stamford Raffle's homeland country, Great Britain, decided to give Singapore autonomy) was used by Lee Kwan Yew to come to power but he decided that he never wanted to lose that power and thereby put in place methods to make Singapore democracy a fraud.

For real democracy to happen in Singapore the People's Action Party/Government must not own or control any of the Singapore press and must make sure that all constituencies have a full slate of candidates from the opposition parties during an election and have independent United Nations observers at all election booths and ballot counting stations.

Chee Soon Juan's Statement to High Court, Singapore

Statement of Chee Soon Juan submitted to the High Court, Singapore
at the Bankruptcy Petition Hearing on 10 February 2006

Background: Dr Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore
Democratic Party, was sued in 2002 by former Singapore prime ministers
Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong for defamation. The courts awarded
the case to the plaintiffs and ordered Dr Chee to pay $500,000 in
damages. Messrs Lee and Goh then took legal action to declare Dr Chee
bankrupt. In response Dr Chee submitted this statement at the
bankruptcy hearing.

After much observation and having personally gone through the judicial
process, I cannot but come to the conclusion that my case has not
received the justice that it is entitled to; it has been crippled right
from the beginning.

First, I was denied the services of QCs when the case commenced in 2002
because according to judge Tay Yong Kwang, the matter was not
"complex enough". This is in spite of the fact that I had made
known the problem that few Singaporean lawyers would act for me because
this involved politics. In this regard, it is instructive to note an AP
report said criminal lawyer, Mr Subhas Anandan, was happy to represent
"thieves and even terror suspects - but no dissidents, please."

The fact that the plaintiffs, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong, had
engaged Senior Counsel, Mr Davinder Singh, who is seasoned in handling
PAP defamation lawsuits and the fact that I had no lawyer to argue my
case for me seemed to not bother the courts at all. The US-based
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights commented:

Neither at the hearing, on February 7 [2003], nor in the course of his
judgment, did Justice Rubin display the least concern that Dr. Chee was
unrepresented. The Lawyers Committee considers that this apparent lack
of concern, coupled with the considerable latitude extended to Mr.
Singh in his submissions to the Court, resulted in manifest unfairness
in the course of the hearing and, specifically, the denial to Dr. Chee
of a fair hearing that met the international norms to which we have

Second, the case was awarded to the plaintiffs through Summary
Judgment, which meant that I could not call witnesses and defend myself
in open court. Again, the Lawyers Committee wrote:

The Lawyers Committee considers that there appear to be triable issues
in this matter, such as whether or not the words spoken by Dr. Chee
were defamatory and whether there was pressure brought to bear on Dr.
Chee that should render his apology and admission void for duress.

In summary, not only did I not have legal representation but I also did
not get a trial. It is well-known that Singapore has detention without
trial. Now it seems that we also have defamation without trial.

To be sure my case is only the latest in several that have taken place
through the years. Mr J B Jeyaretnam, one who has suffered the most
under this legal tyranny, has had to endure much injustice. One case
which he had appealed with Mr Wong Hong Toy to the Privy Council of
London in 1988 will perhaps go down in judicial infamy. The Law Lords
then had concluded that both the defendants had "suffered a grievous
injustice" at the hands of the Singapore Judiciary and Law Society.

Another instance was the removal of former judge Mr Michael Khoo from
the bench after he had passed a lenient sentence on Mr Jeyaretnam.

Through the years Mr Jeyaretnam has been hounded and was finally made
bankrupt in 2001 which made him ineligible for the 2001 elections. He
looks set to also be disqualified for this coming elections.

Then there was the case of Mr Tang Liang Hong who likewise was sued for
defamation and made bankrupt in 1997. If ever there was any doubt as to
the partiality of Singapore's courts, this case and all its attendant
proceedings removed it. It involved a police report that Mr Tang had
made during the 1997 general elections about PAP leaders. Mr Lee Kuan
Yew then got hold of the report, distributed it to the media, and then
proceeded to sue Mr Tang for defamation.

The above have been but a small sample of instances showing the lack of
independence and fairness of our judicial system. This has prompted
international organizations to comment:

"Civil defamation suits are being misused by the Executive to
intimidate and deter those Singaporeans holding dissenting views."
- Amnesty International

"[Defamation lawsuits have] done little to overcome the courts'
reputation as improperly compliant to the interests of the country's
ruling People's Action Party." - International Commission of

"What a government that has been willing to decimate
the rule of law for the benefit of its political interests. Lawyers
have been cowed to passivity, judges are kept on a short leash, and the
law has been manipulated so that gaping holes exist in the system of
restraints on government action toward the individual. Singapore is not
a country in which individual rights have significant meaning." -
New York City Bar Association

Our own former solicitor-general, Mr. Francis Seow said, "the
judiciary...contort themselves into obscene positions to favour...the

The US embassy in Singapore expressed concern over "the ruling
party's use of the court system to intimidate political opponents."

Stuart Littlemore, QC, reporting for the International Commission of

Jurists wrote: "The Singapore leadership has a long-standing record

of using the high court as a mechanism for silencing its opponents -
by suing them for statements that, in any comparable jurisdiction,
would be seen as part of a robust political debate inseparable from
democratic freedoms, and by being awarded such unconscionably high
damages and costs as to bankrupt the defendants, forcing them out of

More recently, Chief Justice Yong Pung How sued his former remisier, Mr
Boon Suan Ban, for defamation when Mr Boon allegedly harassed Mr Yong
over some financial matters. Mr Boon was subsequently arrested and
remanded at the Institute for Mental Health at the "pleasure of the
President." The papers pertaining to the case were then sealed.

In 2005, High Court Judge Mr V K Rajah ruled that a silent protest
staged by four activists calling for transparency and accountability
from the Singapore Government was "incendiary" and that such
protests would "improperly undermine both a hard-won national dignity
and a reputable international identity." This is in spite of the fact
that the Singapore Constitution clear states that only five or more
persons gathered in a public area constituted an illegal assembly.

The question of the independence of Singapore's judiciary is also the
subject of a dispute between two commercial companies that is taking
place presently in Ontario, Canada. The arguments of one party can be
found on:

Through the decades opposition politicians have been, and continue to
be, hounded, persecuted, and prosecuted by the PAP through the courts.
All this time no one in Singapore has dared to say anything. There
comes a time, however, when one must look deep into oneself and ask how
much more of the persecution one has to suffer in silence. Today I have
made the decision not to remain silent any more and tell you what you
don't want to hear: That the judiciary in Singapore is, sadly, not
independent especially when it comes to dealing with opposition

I wish I didn't have to do this. I wish I could say that my
country's judicial system is independent and fair. But I can't
because that would be a lie. It would be a much easier decision for me,
and more importantly for my family, to walk away from this bankruptcy
hearing and accept the punishment that the court has meted out. But my
conscience dictates otherwise and I must take the path that in all
likelihood will lead to dire consequences.

However, making this statement is a decision that I have chosen and,
having made it, to accept the consequences that it brings. I hope to
make this statement a start to a campaign to pry the country's
judiciary from the clutches of the PAP Government.

I may or may not succeed in my endeavour, but I would rather live my
life having spoken and fought for the truth than to share it with
cowardice and deceit. In my little way, I would have stood up for
Singapore, my home too.

Chee Soon Juan
10 February 2006


Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mentor Minister
Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister
Mr Goh Chok Tong, Senior Minister
Mr Yong Pung How, Chief Justice
Mr Philip Jeyaretnam, President, Law Society
Mr J B Jeyaretnam
Mr Francis Seow
Mr Tang Liang Hong
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights First
Asia Human Rights Commission
International Commission of Jurists
Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada
American Bar Association
New York City Bar Association
Indonesian Bar Association
India Bar Association
Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats
Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia
National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
International Republican Institute (IRI)
National Democratic Institute (NDI)
Kim Campbell, President (Club de Madrid)
Korea Democracy Foundation
Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
Forum Asia
Swedish International Liberal Centre
Olof Palme Centre
Jarl Hjalmarsson Foundation
World Movement for Democracy
Community for Democracies
George Soros Foundation
International Freedom for Exchange and Expression
Southeast Asia Press Alliance
Reporters Without Borders
Freedom House
Political and Economical Consultancy
Transparency International
Non-violent International
John McCain, Chairman (IRI)
Madeleine Albright , Chairman (NDI)
David Kilgour, MP (Canada)
Raynell Andreychuk, Senator (Canada)
Graham Watson, MEP, Leader (ELDR)
Martin Lee, QC
Stuart Littlemore, QC
David Wingfield, Council for Enernorth
US Embassy
German Embassy
Swedish Embassy
Belgium Embassy
French Embassy
Netherlands Embassy
Canadian High Commission
Australian High Commission
New Zealand High Commission
British High Commission
European Commission