Sunday, May 15, 2011

Remember May 21, 1987: PAP's track record

On May 21st 1987, 22 young social workers, lawyers, businessmen, theatre practitioners and other professionals were detained without trial under the internal security law and accused of “being members of a dangerous Marxist conspiracy bent on subverting the PAP ruled government by force, and replacing it with a Marxist state.” A second wave of arrests took place on June 20th the same year.
The detainees were forced to make false confessions by the way of mental and physical torture. They were subjected to harsh and intensive interrogations, deprived of sleep and rest, some for as long as 70 hours in freezing cold rooms. All of them were stripped of their personal clothing, including spectacles, footwear and underwear and were made to change into prisoners’ uniforms.

Most of them were made to stand during interrogation for over 20 hours and under full blasts of air conditioning turned to the lowest temperature. Under those conditions, one of them was repeatedly doused with cold water. Most were hit in the face while others were assaulted on other parts of the body. Threats of indefinite detention without trial were also made to them should they continue to deny the intentions that they have been accused to harbour.

They were then compelled to appear on TV with their confessions and were told that their release would be dependent on their performance on TV.


In May 1987, the government of then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew accused 22 church workers and social workers of being part of a plot to topple the Singapore government. The local media called it a “Marxist Conspiracy” and named former student union leader, Tan Wah Piow, as the “mastermind”. Vincent Cheng was alleged to be the man whom Tan Wah Piow, who had left Singapore for England in 1976, tasked to build up a network of “conspirators” in Singapore.

Codenamed “Operation Spectrum”, the Internal Security Department (ISD) swooped in on the 22 (in two different operations, in May and June) and arrested and detained the accused under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

In the following months, the detainees were paraded on television interviews allegedly arranged by the government. The Catholic Church became entangled in the saga and then-Archbishop Gregory Yong had to publicly disavow its involvement. Former Solicitor-General Francis Seow, who was acting for three of the detainees, was later detained under the ISA as well.

The only time the detainees spoke up on their own , away from incarceration, which they did through a press statement claiming they were ill-treated during detention and denied being part of any “Marxist plot”, they were swiftly re-arrested by the ISD. The eight who released the press statement, on 20 April 1988, later recanted.

An earlier promise by the government to hold a Commission of Inquiry to look into the allegations of abuse was shelved. The government said it saw no need for an inquiry as the detainees had signed another statement disavowing their recantation.

The Straits Times termed the detainees’ statement as a “ploy to discredit [the] Government”.

One year after the initial arrests, the government, which earlier claimed that Tan Wah Piow was the “mastermind” behind the “plot”, later insisted that “the plot was a full-blown Communist Party of Malaya operation.”

There has been no independent inquiry or investigation into the arrests till this day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who are the masterminds behind
Kong Hee scams? The start of his metoring under Canon James Wong who accumulated properties in downunder, his godfather Isaac Lim, his teacher Pringle, his fake degree conferred by NCIU, his links to other CH churches moving funds around, his doctorate from Hansei and fooling people his Dr title seem related to theology but not really, just business title conferred by heretic, convicted Cho Yonggi ( David or Paul or any names he chose) ....

Is the Interpol investigating where funds are leaving to? From KL CH to USA funding singer Sun Ho career .... Sentosa Cove bungalow .... other hidden assets?

Who are the real masterminds not caught?