Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Demise of Fear: a note from Teo Soh Lung, ex-political prisoner

Demise of fear

by Teo Soh Lung on Monday, 16 May 2011 at 18:48 (source)

[On Teo Soh Lung, see here and here.]

The recent retirement of MM Lee Kuan Yew and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong from the cabinet was welcome news to many Singaporeans. [I rejoice.]

Both men would like to be remembered as having brought Singapore to what it is today. Certainly we will remember them as having contributed  to the economic success of Singapore. History will no doubt remember the good deeds of the two men.  But history will also slowly but surely reveal the dark deeds of the two men.

There was a time when MM Lee as the first prime minister of Singapore could have achieved unparalleled greatness in this region if only he had been kind to his friends who helped propel him to fame.  I am thinking of the greats of Lim Chin Siong, Dr Lim Hock Siew, Dr Poh Soo Kai and Loh Miaw Ping,  who together with so many others helped him win his first general election in 1959 and unselfishly let him assume the office of prime minister. What he did to them in 1963 (Operation Coldstore, here) and to  hundreds if not thousands more in the years that followed was unforgiveable. We  know today that they were locked away under the Internal Security Act for decades and silenced for more than half a century.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong who was First Deputy Prime Minister in 1987 learnt to be ruthless from MM Lee when he agreed to arrest and detain 22 innocent people that year (Operation Spectrum, here, during which Ms Teo was imprisoned without trial). For three decades thereafter, the PAP appeared to be invincible. GE 2011 changed all that. In a matter of days, the prime minister and other ministers came out to apologise for their mistakes. It took many by surprise. Have leopards changed their spots?

I don’t know.  All I know is that the young have taken control of Singapore and are determined to put a stop to the arrogance of the PAP. The young and articulate opposition candidates came out in full force. They campaigned without fear. The people responded and suddenly, fear disappeared and they regained their voices. Both the people and the candidates realised in the course of just nine days that they have the power to change Singapore.

For me, GE 2011 is the most important GE after 1984 when two opposition members, namely J B Jeyaretnam and Chiam See Tong were elected into parliament. With six members of the Workers’ Party in parliament this year, we, the people of Singapore can have the confidence to feel free once again and to look forward to a PAP government that will be more accountable to us in the next five years.  We can be sure that if they do not listen to us, the next GE will see more losses for the PAP.

As for the passing of MM Lee and Senior Minister Goh, they will soon be forgotten except in the pages of our history book.

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