Response to “LKY’s legacy”

March 30, 2015

I refer to the 28 Mar 2015 TR Emeritus article “LKY’s legacy” from Lu Jiaquan’s Facebook page.

Mr Lu wrote:

The moment you wake up, you are in your HDB flat. His housing legacy.

The first flats weren’t built by LKY, not even the first high rise flats. They were built during colonial times and when LKY took power in 1959, he also inherited the SIT along with many uncompleted Queenstown units. So the housing legacy was a legacy that originated in British colonial times. LKY merely continued with that legacy.

Mr Lu wrote:

Once you step into your toilet/bathroom, you have the tap with potable water. His water legacy.

That would be an insult to Mr Tan Kim Seng whose memorial still stands at the Esplanade but whose legacy has been all but forgotten, stolen if one might say. It was Tan Kim Seng’s generous donation that made public running water possible.

Even Malaysian households have running water today despite not having LKY. Or is Mr Lu of the opinion that without LKY, the rest of Singapore including Mr Lu’s own father and grandfather would be so hopeless that we would still be without running water even till this day?

Mr Lu wrote:

Once you use the bus and MRT to travel, you are better than your parents in earlier days, travelling to Shenton Way from Toa Payoh for 2 hours or even worse. His public transport legacy.

Hong Kong had subways long before we did. If we continued to be under the British and not under LKY, we would have gotten our MRT earlier.

Subways are standard fare in most modern cities including many Third World ones. Yet we don’t hear citizens in those cities thanking any particular individual for their subways.

Mr Lu wrote:

You have shades of trees along the roads and streets to keep yourself cool. His greenery legacy.

It is not as though roads elsewhere, especially First World Cities have no trees.

Mr Lu wrote:

You do not have to worry going out late at night with your parents, without much fear of being mugged. His law and order legacy.

Once in a while, you read about Singaporean women getting raped in broad daylight, some murdered as well with the perpetrator still at large.

Hong Kong too like us has low crime rates. Our law and order is a legacy passed down from the British.

Mr Lu wrote:

Our country is safely secured from external armed threats. His citizen armed forces legacy.

The only occasion when Singapore fell to external armed threats was when the Japanese invaded Singapore. Today, the threat from Japan is no more. Not because we have armed ourselves sufficiently to repel another Japanese attack but because Japan today is no longer a security threat to Singapore.

Mr Lu wrote:

You have good quality, bilingual education because he believed investing in the youths. His education legacy.

That is an insult to Mr Lee Kong Chian. It was LKC, not LKY who first proposed bilingual education for schools and who first implemented it in the Chinese High School. There is no doubt that if Singapore had continued to be under the British, Lee Kong Chian would have continued with bilingual education for Singapore.

Even Malaysia, without LKY, has not only bilingual but trilingual education. Our bilingualism, like that of Malaysia’s is the natural consequence of us being former British colonies.

Mr Lu wrote:

So what has he done for you, your parents, and the future generations to come?

So what has LKY done that wasn’t actually done by others, inherited from others or would have been done by others as had been done too in Malaysia, Hong Kong and many other cities?

Blind gratitude is not gratitude

March 22, 2015

I refer to the 21 Mar 2015 Straits Times letter “Gratitude an important virtue” by Madam Chang Choon Kheng.

Madam Chang wrote:

THE creation of the hoax website falsely announcing former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s death, at a time when he is critically ill, shows that some of us have forgotten the virtue of gratitude (“Concern mounts amid outrage at rumours”; yesterday).

Contrary to Madam Chang’s assertion, Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s death hoax may not necessarily show that some of us have forgotten gratitude but may instead show that some of us have become more discerning about whom to be grateful to and for what.

Madam Chang wrote:

Given the situation Singapore was in soon after independence in the 1960s, Mr Lee had no choice but to rule with an iron fist, to ensure law and order in Singapore.

Mr Lee had already locked up all so called ‘communists’ during Operation Coldstore in 1963 which according to our ambassador to Australia Mr Burhan Gafoor, had completely shattered the CPM underground network. Konfrontasi with Indonesia also ended prematurely with the toppling of Sukarno by Singapore friendly Suharto just one month after our independence. Separation from Malaysia also severed the tension between the leaders of the two countries that was at the root of communal violence then. What else was there that gave Mr Lee no choice but to rule with an iron fist?

Our situation after World War II was much worse than after independence. Yet our former British colonial rulers never ruled Singapore with Lee’s iron fist.

Did Mr Lee have no choice but to detain Mr Chia Thye Poh till 1998? Did he have no choice but to detain Dr Lim Siew Hock till 1982? What difficult situation persisted from 1966 to 1998 or from 1963 to 1982?

Madam Chang wrote:

He did what he knew he had to do at that time.

Before winning power, Mr Lee fought for press freedom, after winning power Mr Lee suppressed press freedom. Whatever that Mr Lee knew he had to do had nothing to do with consistent moral values that transcended situations but had everything to do with Machiavelli self interest and self preservation.

Madam Chang wrote:

Looking at where we are now, we have to acknowledge that Mr Lee and his team have done much to make Singapore what it is today.

We can’t just look at where we are now and assume it was all due to Mr Lee and his team. We must also look at where we were before, the conditions that we were bestowed with, the citizenry that we were blessed with and the actual details of our journey before we can give the right acknowledgement to the right persons.

According to Dr Goh Keng Swee, there were four conditions that helped Singapore prosper:
(1) Excellent geographical location
(2) Excellent Victorian principles of free trade and enterprise
(3) Excellent British colonial adaptability honed over more than a hundred years since 1819
(4) Prosperity of our neighbors

So according to Dr Goh, where we are now was largely due to the continuation of excellent British ways of doing things which Dr Goh described as priceless. Thus, if Madam Chang acknowledges Mr Lee’s team mate Dr Goh, she should also acknowledge Dr Goh’s words of wisdom and acknowledge that much of why we are where we are today has more to do with our priceless colonial inheritances than Mr Lee or his team.

Madam Chang wrote:

I am a pre-school teacher and I am tasked with teaching our children virtues. Being grateful is a very important one.

The importance of being grateful means that one must exercise due care and diligence to pinpoint exactly who to be grateful to and for what. By attributing all that we should be grateful for to one person, Madam Chang risks being ungrateful to everyone else by failing to recognize their fair share of contributions. If we strip Mr Lee of the contributions by others, what little is left for us to be grateful about?

The key events that are closely identified with Mr Lee were our failed merger with Malaya, Graduate Mothers Scheme, Stop at Two and suppression of press freedom, hardly anything that we should be grateful about.

Madam Chang wrote:

When I teach the children in my class what gratitude is, I will tell them about the history of Singapore, to show them that we must be grateful to our leaders who worked day and night so that we could live comfortably today.

The Singapore history that Madam Chang tells must go beyond Mr Lee Kuan Yew as there were others before him like Tan Kah Kee, Tan Kim Seng and Tan Tock Seng who helped cement Singapore’s status as the leading centre of business and entrepreneurship in the region and helped lay the strong foundation upon which independent Singapore could further prosper. If Madam Chang only tells the tall tales of Mr Lee but not the true tales of other Singapore patriots and pioneers, she risks being ungrateful to so many others that all Singaporeans are indebted to.

Does Madam Chang think Singapore could have prospered if everyone lazed around while Mr Lee alone worked day and night? Even Mr Lee himself admitted in 1965 that it was ultimately the citizenry’s mettle that mattered. How does Madam Chang know Mr Lee worked day and night? Did she have special privilege to enter the Istana Palace to witness Mr Lee working day and night?

Madam Chang wrote:

Before we complain about anything, we must remember that the peaceful and clean city we enjoy today came at a high price – the sweat, tears and blood of the older generations. They persevered and had the “never say die” spirit which we should learn.

Before Madam Chang compliments anything, she must remember that Singapore was already peaceful and prosperous during British colonial times and that the high price of older generations included that of those who came before Lee. The sweat, tears and blood of Lee’s generation cannot compare with that of those who came after our founding in 1819. It was our earliest pioneers who literally carved a city out of the jungle and turned Singapore into the prosperous port city that Lee and his team inherited.

Madam Chang wrote:

Now that Mr Lee is critically ill, I feel sad that we may soon lose a good man. But I am also heartened that there are many who appreciate him, as shown by the many good wishes sent.

Madam Chang will not feel so sad if she can better understand the truth behind what Mr Lee did or did not do.

Madam Chang wrote:

I thank Mr Lee for all he has done in the past. He has indeed left a legacy for us. May we pass this legacy to our children, and be grateful for it.

Much of what Madam Chang thanks Mr Lee for is attributable to others. When stripped of these legacies due to others, there is nothing much left about Mr Lee to pass on to our children or to be grateful about.

Rebutting Mr Moh Hon Meng

March 15, 2015

I refer to the 7 Jan 2015 TREmeritus article on Mr Moh Hon Meng’s facebook post “In Defence of PAP” written three days before General Election 2011.

Mr Moh wrote:

… It used to be that if you spoke up against the PAP, you feared for your life. But now online sentiment for the PAP has turned so overwhelmingly negative that I’m afraid to post this!
But what’s of note in this election is that my friends have the courage to stand up and say what they believe in, so I must do the same.

If the boss of Diamond Industries continues to take out an entire Straits Times page to worship Lee Kuan Yew every 9 August, what fear is there of speaking for the PAP? If Mr Moh was truly fearful, surely he would’ve used a pseudonym, wouldn’t he? Mr Moh was less fearful of what he was doing compared to so many others who speak against the PAP anonymously.

Foreign Workers

Mr Moh wrote:

Forget the “Swiss standard of living”, we are fighting for our survival.

How can we be fighting for survival when we can afford a $1 billion artificial garden that incurs millions of dollars of losses every year? How can we be fighting for survival when we continue to splurge millions on fireworks, celebrations and F1 every year?

Mr Moh wrote:

We are surrounded by third world countries with cheap, hungry and hard-working labour.

Being cheaper and hungrier doesn’t necessarily mean that the Third World countries we are surrounded by are necessarily more competitive. The annual Global Competitiveness Report constantly ranks Singapore much higher than our Third World neighbors.

Mr Moh wrote:

In the 1990s, businesses were leaving Singapore in drove to set up in Malaysia, Vietnam and China. The business owners complained that Singapore was too expensive to do business in.

Businesses that left in the 1990s to Third World countries were low end businesses, businesses that Singapore could afford to lose. This helped Singapore refocus on higher end businesses which translated to a better economy today. Singapore in the 1990s was nowhere as expensive as it is today. Yet, higher end businesses aren’t leaving in droves today. Being competitive isn’t primarily about being cheaper.

Singapore business cost is primarily rental cost and since the government is the Number 1 landlord in Singapore, shouldn’t Mr Moh direct the problem of high business cost to our government rather than to Singaporeans?

Mr Moh wrote:

Singaporeans wanted “lifestyle”, and eschew late hours, low pay and hard work. We want to be paid a high salary, and yet leave at 6pm to have work-life balance. We want to sit in air-con offices and not sweat in the sun.

Singaporeans continue to work some of the longest hours in the world today. What “lifestyle” is that? If Germans, Swiss, Swedes, Dutch and so on can work regular hours, have work life balance and receive high pay, why can’t Singaporeans? Expatriates in Singapore generally sit in air-con offices and don’t sweat in the sun except when they go jogging or cycling so why can’t Singaporeans?

Mr Moh wrote:

We want benefits for mothers, fathers and older workers. We want companies to provide child care, medical care and long (paid) compassionate, maternity and paternity leave. We want a lot of things. It is not wrong to want these things.

Benefits for parents and the old, child care, medical care are standard fare in First World nations. Isn’t Singapore supposedly First World? Then why should Mr Moh begrudge these supposedly First World standard fare items?

Many in the First World do not need compassionate or paternity leave because they can easily take time off for personal or family matters. Outstanding companies like Google don’t even require employees to clock in. First World maternity leave can be much longer than ours. So no Mr Moh, we don’t want a lot of things. We just want what most First World nations enjoy. Don’t be a hypocrite by saying it is not wrong to want these things and yet begrudge Singaporeans wanting such things.

Mr Moh wrote:

But from the point of view of employers and investors, their response was basically this: “No thanks, Singapore. I’will rather set up in some other country and maybe hire a few high value Singaporeans to move and work there. Maybe.”

If employer and investor mindset is to pay dirt cheap and work Singaporeans’ socks off like machines, then our response will be the same. Thanks but no thanks. Feel free to go to many of our friendly neighboring countries. Singapore is a First World country that aspires to First World investments, not Third World investments.

Mr Moh wrote:

So the PAP government said “Please still come to Singapore. We’ll let you hire the low cost, hard-working foreign workers that you need, and give you land subsidy, tax incentives etc .” And the businesses came back.

The fact that businesses came back wasn’t necessarily due to PAP allowing low cost foreign workers to come in. It was the successful and decisive handling of the Global Financial Crisis by Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner that things began to return to normalcy. No amount of PAP cheap foreign labor would have made any difference if the Global Financial crisis persisted, the global financial markets continued to meltdown and global consumer sentiments remained dead. After the financial markets were tamed, businesses naturally came back whether or not we had low cost workers or not.

Mr Moh contradicted himself when he said:

But a good number of higher value jobs, those in the air-con offices, like marketing, accounting and finance, legal, design, operations etc., went to Singaporeans.
This is at the low end. At the high end …

A good number of higher value jobs are at the low end? That must be one of the most oxymoronic sentences by a PAP sympathizer. Has Mr Moh not heard of the many complaints about a particular nationality hiring only its own kind so much so that Minister Tan Chuan Jin had to come up with the Fair Consideration Framework? If a good number of higher value jobs went to Singaporeans, why did Minister Tan come out and say such things:

SINGAPORE — Describing the new Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) as a “sensible approach”, Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin today (Sept 23) said it sends a “strong signal to all employers that they should consider Singaporeans fairly in filling available jobs”.

“Our objective is simple – to let Singaporeans benefit fairly from economic growth, by helping them get better jobs now and in the future,” said Mr Tan in a blog post …

Mr Tan noted that the majority of participants in the Ministry of Manpower’s Our Singapore Conversation felt that “the playing field is somewhat unlevel between Singaporeans and foreigners for job opportunities”.

They asked for ways to ensure that Singaporean fresh graduates were not disadvantaged with competing with foreign employees …

“I hear you,” said Mr Tan. “Not just the OSC participants, but the many Singaporeans I have met and who have written to me about the discrimination they have perceived at the workplace.” …

In dealing with firms that require “additional scrutiny” — such as those with a low proportion of Singaporeans at the PME level — the MOM will adopt a more “targetted approach”, said Mr Tan. “We will start to identify and engage such firms probably by early next year, and shine a light on their hiring and staff development practices, even as we work towards the setting up of the new jobs bank next year,” he said.

[Today, Fair Consideration Framework a ‘sensible approach’: Tan Chuan Jin, 23 Sept 2013]

Mr Moh wrote:

At the high end, the foreign businesses said “Look, Singapore has got some good people, but not those at the very high end. Not the mold-breaking engineers, not the Nobel Prize winners, not the think-outside-the-box industrial designers. We need these people.” So the PAP said “OK, let’s bring in these foreign talents (FT) as PRs. They will impart skills to our people. We will also change our education system, add more universities and research facilities, to try and achieve this. In time, we hope to produce our own Nobel scientists.” And so the high end MNCs came also.

Singapore education is supposed to be world famous. We always boast about our high PISA rankings, our high university rankings and our textbooks being used all over the world. So how could Mr Moh end up saying Singapore hasn’t got talented, mould breaking, think-out-of-the-box people at the very high end? Was he implying that our education, for all its hype doesn’t train mould breaking, think-out-of-the-box people who would become very high end? Shouldn’t Mr Moh be very concerned with our education system instead of just giving a one liner about it? He gave the impression that he wasn’t truly concerned with drilling down problems to their roots but was merely explaining things away conveniently.

Mr Moh wrote:

It is not the PAP who has suppressed wages for Singaporeans. It is global competition. The third world, hungry low cost worker, is suppressing wages and causing jobs to be lost in the U.S., Europe and Japan, not just here.

Mr Moh was employing one of PAP’s favorite silly fallacies here. Global competition from low cost Third World workers cannot lower the wages of workers providing face to face service to the customer or cause them to lose their jobs. The jobs lost in the US were mainly manufacturing jobs, not service sector jobs. Kopitiam or Koufu cannot shift their restaurants to Third World countries without also closing their businesses here. The only way low cost Third World workers can make their way to Kopitiam or Koufu is that PAP allowed it.

Our median wages have also been suppressed. How did the low cost Third World worker end up suppressing our median wages too? Thus, it seems that even not so low wage Third World workers have also made their way here in sizeable numbers which cannot be conveniently explained away by PAP’s simplistic theory repeated by Mr Moh.

Mr Moh wrote:

If we do not offer some low cost workers, and do all we can to woo these multinationals or even simply to persuade our OWN local companies NOT to set up their operations overseas, we will lose a lot of Singaporean jobs.
Who are these foreign workers? They are construction workers, ship-builders, domestic workers, nurses, cleaners, garbage collectors, chambermaids etc.

You can easily spot the garbage in Mr Moh’s arguments here. On the one hand, he spoke about the need for foreign workers to woo multinationals. On the other hand he said these foreign workers are ship builders, domestic workers, nurses, cleaners, garbage collectors, chamber maids and so on.

• Which multinational wooed employ lots of ship builders when most of our ship yards are locally owned?
• Which multinational wooed employ lots of domestic workers?
• Which multinational wooed employ lots of nurses when most of our hospitals are locally owned?
• Which multinational wooed employ lots of garbage collectors when most of our garbage companies are locally owned?
• Which multinational wooed employ lots of chamber maids when many of our hotels are locally owned?

Do we need to woo multinationals for ship building, medical, garbage collection and hotel industries? Is Mr Moh saying Singapore is so gone case we can’t even set up such low tech industries ourselves but have to rely on multinationals? Mr Moh should not use the false pretext of wooing multinationals to justify the mass import of workers that don’t support these multinationals.

Mr Moh wrote:

How many Singaporeans can we find for these jobs? Singaporeans are getting more and more educated and all of us want to be supervisors and managers, and this is good. But who would we manage and supervise? Yes, the FTs have taken away some jobs that otherwise could have been done by Singaporeans, it’s hard to finely calibrate these things; but on balance, their presence ensures that businesses, and cushy, well-paying jobs, remain here and create plenty of opportunities for local SMEs.

Some time ago, a famous restaurateur advertised for a high paying job in one of his outlets and quickly closed applications soon after because applications were overwhelming. This shows that if pay is good, there will be takers for these jobs too. Singaporeans may be getting better educated but not all of us want to be supervisors and managers but all of us want to make a decent living at whatever level that we operate from. Mr Moh shouldn’t pluck sentences from thin air, if there are many well paying cushy jobs for Singaporeans surely the disgruntlement cannot be so wide spread?

Housing policy and overcrowding in MRTs

Mr Moh wrote:

Many economists will tell you that in the short term, there are often imbalances between demand and supply which will lead to distortions in prices. I believe that the price distortions will swing in the other direction in 3 years time, when there would be too many houses to meet demand (particularly if demand is being curbed, following the elections, if foreigner inflows are curtailed). Over the long term however, the government’s policy should be geared towards managing these swings, match supply and demand, and ensure a slow, and affordable increase over time.
Could the increase in foreigner inflows and the number of flats be better coordinated? Perhaps. But it is very fast to approve foreign worker permits, particularly when key MNCs are pressurizing the government for them, and especially when the financial crisis was upon us, whereas it takes a few years to build flats. This mismatch has caused prices to skyrocket.

By attributing the problem to the ease of approving work permit and difficulty of building flats, Mr Moh was essentially trivializing the matter and letting the PAP off the hook. The fact of the matter was that PAP wasn’t even starting to build those flats even if it would have taken them years to do so. Back then, PAP was busy justifying why they shouldn’t build more. They resisted calls by the people to build more. It was only after they lost Aljunied that they started to build more. Mr Moh shouldn’t change the facts to whitewash PAP’s arrogant ways.

Investment losses by the GIC and Temasek

Mr Moh wrote:

It is not right to pinpoint a specific year when it comes to investment performance. The long term performance needs to be considered.

There is nothing wrong with pinpointing, not a specific year, but a specific period of a few years of investment performance. The danger of considering too long a performance term is that the good performance of past managers will be lumped together with the bad performance of current managers which will then mask the bad performance of current managers.

Even Warren Buffet, the world’s greatest investor, lost billions in 2008, like GIC and Temasek did. But he continued to invest, just as GIC and Temasek did, and they recovered their losses when the recovery came in 2009 and 2010. The long term performance of GIC and Temasek has been commendable (based on the data that they released).

We don’t really know about that. A number of distinguished academics have come forward to point out obvious anomalies in Temasek’s accounting such as the wrongful booking of the receipt of government linked companies as profit. Without proper accounting, we will never know if GIC and Temasek truly recovered their losses as well as Warren Buffet did if at all.

Flooding and escape of Mas Selamat

Mr Moh wrote:

I believe these to be civil service lapses, not political ones. As it is with the Nicoll Highway collapse, electrical outages, and the likes. Heads have rolled at the civil service, as we’ve read, but I’m not clear what some opposition parties want. Is it that we must have ministerial resignations for these mistakes? The international community and most Singaporeans would feel very unnerved if a minister resigned every time some mistakes like these occur.

In typical PAP style, Mr Moh credited all success to PAP politics while assigning lapses further down the civil service hierarchy. It’s always those lower down the pecking order that get the blame while those higher up take the credit.

No one is saying that the minister should resign for everyday small mistakes. What Singaporeans want is for ministers to resign for gargantuan, mega mistakes. Or is Mr Moh of the opinion that our ministers are so prone to making mega mistakes that resignations would happen all too often? Ministers in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan have resigned over critical mistakes but the international community has never been shaken. Why should Singapore be different?

Cost-of-living increases

Mr Moh wrote:

A lot of the increase comes from the increase in prices of food, oil and other commodities in the global marketplace, which we import.

Mr Moh was practising the usual PAP tai chi of blaming everyone else but themselves. Most well known global indices already acknowledge rental as the main culprit for Singapore’s rapid increase in cost of living.

Mr Moh wrote:

A part of the reason is the tremendous liquidity that has been created by world governments to combat the financial crisis. Some of this liquidity found its way into the prices of some commodities.

The tremendous injection of liquidity to combat financial crisis cannot tremendously increase food or commodity prices because the markets for these products are closer to perfectly competitive, where neither supply nor demand are significantly controlled by any one player.

Mr Moh wrote:

… Perhaps the issue is how we help the lower income cope, rather than say that the PAP has caused the increase.

The issue isn’t merely to help the lower income cope because the middle income is also feeling the squeeze. Furthermore, by asking Singaporeans to only focus on solving the problem and not bring the PAP to task, Mr Moh was essentially encouraging PAP’s irresponsible behavior.


Mr Moh wrote:

The question that has been asked is “where is the accountability?” I’m wondering, “what kind of accountability should there be?” The ministry has already offered all the facts. In my view, it was the first time this thing called a YOG was organized anywhere in the world, our most important priority was to pull it off properly.

It is not true that all facts about the YOG are already there. Does Mr Moh know where every single dollar went to in detail? Does Mr Moh know every single detail to the original budget? Does he know exactly why additional expenditure was required, how necessary were they and why weren’t they foreseen? Yet Mr Moh so readily claimed that all facts are already there. Just because there was a need to pull it off properly doesn’t mean there was no need to pull it off on or close to budget.

Mr Moh wrote:

But compare this to the F1. It was also the first time a night race was held anywhere in the world, and there, the results were better than we projected.

F1 accountability is even worse. They made a report to study its costs and benefits and ended up congratulating themselves without ever releasing the report for public verification. Mr Chiam See Tong asked for the report but was not given. What accountability is there? The fact that they don’t even dare to release the report shows that the results are likely to be much worse, not better.

Mr Moh wrote:

I appreciate the risk-taking nature of our government in these events.

It is people like Mr Moh who provide the government with the blank cheque to do anything they like and who indulge in the government getting from bad to worse.

Mr Moh wrote:

We want our government and our children to be adventurous and entrepreneurial, we must accept that mistakes will be made. Under-budgeting, as any entrepreneur will tell you, is very real in any new, untested venture.

The YOG is a bad example for our children to be adventurous and entrepreneurial. Would an adventurer mountain climber be so careless as to miss a foothold by a mile? We are not talking about mere under-budgeting but severe under-budgeting. In the real world, the entrepreneur who severely over spends becomes bankrupt. But here our minister was given free money to chalk up the balances. What entrepreneurship is that?

Mr Moh wrote:

Are we telling our government to only do things when they have 100% confidence, and not risk making any mistake? That’s what kiasu is, and we don’t want that.

We are not telling the government to do things with 100% confidence. But should 80% confidence translate to 400% overspending? This kind of overspending inspires absolutely no confidence let alone 80% confidence.

Not wanting kiasu doesn’t mean we therefore want suku.

Main criticism of PAP

Mr Moh wrote:

For a lot of my friends, it’s the arrogance. They may believe that the PAP is the best party to run the country, but they are voting opposition anyway because they have had enough of the arrogant PAP style. That’s heart over head, but that’s what we are like as human beings. Our minds will be closed to the best logic if our hearts are not there. We will accept the most perverse logic, even to our deaths, if our hearts are won. And politics is about winning hearts, not minds. So for my friends whose hearts are lost to the PAP, even if Pullitzer prize winning arguments are presented here (or estate upgrading), it is of no use.

Mr Moh seemed to be insulting a lot of his friends by saying they are all heart and no head and will accept perverse logic to their deaths because their hearts are lost despite his Pulitzer Prize winning arguments. No Mr Moh, yours is a bullshiter prize argument. Your friends are not as headless as you said they are. They can think for themselves and they know that when so many things have gone wrong and are continuing to go wrong, perhaps it is time for a change.

Mr Moh wrote:

That arrogant style was actually appreciated by an earlier generation of Singaporeans, who were less educated. It wasn’t called arrogance then. It was called strength of conviction, it was called leadership. It was called decisiveness and resolve. In the 60s to the 80s, we needed those qualities in a leader, in our leaders.

It is not true that PAP in an earlier generation was also arrogant but which was then appreciated as strength of conviction, leadership, decisiveness and resolve. The best proof is in Lee Kuan Yew’s words.

Back in 1965, Lee emphasized that it was the quality of the people that mattered:

Singapore’s Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew … stressed that it was the quality of the people – “the mettle in them” that counted … Singapore … did not believe in shaking knuckle dusters at others because the people here were polite … But, he stressed, the island was determined to survive in South-east Asia for the next 1,000 years … Nothing will hold us back. We have thick skins and necks. Even our chickens have thick necks.

[Straits Times, We will survive for the next 1,000 years – Lee, 19 Sept 1965]

By 2007, Lee was saying it was his extraordinary government that brought about Singapore’s transformation:

Lee Kuan Yew: … The Member has compared Singapore against Switzerland, Denmark and Finland … have they brought the standard of living of their people up, multi-fold times, from third-world to first-world in one generation? To maintain that quality of government both in the political leadership that sets the tone for the whole civil service and for the whole country … To make the transformation from what we were in 1959 or 1965, whichever the starting point, to what we are requires an extraordinary government with extraordinary government officers to support it, to bring to where it is.

[2007 parliament debate on ministerial salary]

Thus, contrary to what Mr Moh wrote, PAP in the earlier generation wasn’t as arrogant as they are now so don’t believe in Mr Moh’s rubbish of equating arrogance to strength of conviction, leadership, decisiveness or resolve. One can show strength of conviction, leadership, decisiveness and resolve without ever being arrogant.

Mr Moh wrote:

But the electorate is a lot more educated now, and there are a lot of well qualified people who can run the country very well. Their response is “look, if you cram another hard truth down my throat, I am going to stand up and take away the ruling mandate away from you.” And that is precisely what a few very qualified candidates are trying to do now, representing all the other Singaporeans who have had it up to here with the “I-know-it-all, you-just-listen-to-me” style. For the previous generation, the PAP may have been the only answer. It is not so with this generation.

Many of the so-called “hard truths” have been repeated by Mr Moh here. We can clearly see that these aren’t “hard truths” but are hardly truths. Many in the previous generation will pass on without ever realizing that PAP was never ever their answer. The answer was from a UN advisor which the PAP took lock stock and barrel and called it its own.

Mr Moh wrote:

Can the PAP be less arrogant? I think PM Lee is trying, as we can see from his apology yesterday. Is it too little too late? Will the PAP really change in the future? I believe in PM Lee’s resolve, but that’s just me.

PM Lee’s apology achieved nothing other than garner tremendous sympathy votes for the PAP. But PAP remains as arrogant as ever.

Mr Moh wrote:

What are my views about the opposition? On an overall basis, I don’t think that a multi-party parliament is necessarily a better one. In fact, when we look at parliaments around the world, the multi-party ones are more often than not mired in disagreement, unable to move forward. The evidence just isn’t there.

All First World countries have multi-party parliaments and they continue to be the most prosperous, progressive segments of humanity on earth. All our latest gadgets and applications continue to be churned out by them. So how could Mr Moh say multi-party parliaments are unable to move forward? So contrary to Mr Moh, the evidence is there as has always been.

Mr Moh wrote:

So what am I saying? What is my conclusion? I am not persuading anyone to vote PAP. That would be arrogant of me. I want to defend some of PAP’s past policies, especially if they were, in my mind, done right and with the interests of Singapore at heart but which have been misperceived. A few of my friends, who know me to be pro-PAP, have actually asked me to defend the PAP. Perhaps they are sitting on the fence and struggling with the decision and want to hear a different side from what is mainly circulating online now. I hope this helps.

Who was Mr Moh kidding? Do you believe Mr Moh was defending PAP and helping fence sitters hear the PAP side without hoping they would be persuaded to vote for PAP? That would be like a salesman who defends a product with a bad reputation and lets undecided customers hear the good points about the product yet claims that he isn’t hoping that the customer will buy his product.

It’s quite common for politicians to claim to have the interests of the country at heart as did Hitler and Stalin.

Mr Moh wrote:

Overall, I hope Singaporeans will vote who they honestly believed to be the best candidates for them. If this is done, I think that we, as a country, should be ok. I fear the Singaporean who says “I think the opposition candidate in my constituency is crap, but I will vote him anyway because I think the PAP is arrogant.” I cannot agree with that.

If Mr Moh sincerely believes that Singapore would be okay if Singaporeans vote for whom they honestly believe are the best candidates, then Mr Moh should sincerely wish that those who honestly believe that the opposition is the best should vote for the opposition.

Mr Moh should understand that voters may honestly believe that crap opposition is better than arrogant PAP because a crap worker is still better than a worker who gives crap reasons for not doing his work. So if Mr Moh is true to his words and honest with himself, he must agree, not disagree with that.

Correcting falsehoods by sgoreng

March 10, 2015

I refer to the 24 Feb 2015 TR Emeritus commentary “SG success not due to ‘Vision of One Man’” by sgoreng.

Lee Kuan Yew and others who credited Dr Winsemius are Westerner dog’s shit?

Sgoreng wrote:

But when the editor of TRE gives the whole credit of Sg’s economic achievements to an angmoh like Winsemius, no such protest is heard. The editor of TRE and many of its posters are “angmoh kao sai” i.e., westerner dog’s shit.

If crediting Singapore’s economic achievement to Dr Albert Winsemius means becoming a Westerner dog’s shit, then many authors and luminaries including Lee Kuan Yew himself are Westerner dog’s shit because all of them credited Dr Winsemius with Singapore’s economic achievement:

Most of all, he (Dr Winsemius) was wise and canny. I (Lee Kuan Yew) learnt much about Western business and businessmen from him. He gave me practical lessons on how … Singapore could plug into the global economic system of trade and investments by using their desire for profits … It was Singapore’s good fortune that he took a deep and personal interest in Singapore’s development. Singapore and I personally, are indebted to him for the time, energy and devotion he gave to Singapore.

[Straits Times, Singapore is indebted to Winsemius: SM, 10 Dec 1996]

Is sgoreng saying Lee Kuan Yew is Westerner dog’s shit?

He was Singapore’s trusted guide through economically uncharted waters for 25 years from 1960. Through him, Singapore borrowed ideas and strategies that worked for Netherlands and other developed nations. Singapore’s economy is flying high today, thanks in large measure to his sound advice and patient counsel. He is the Father of Jurong, the Dutchman behind Singapore Incorporated. Dr Winsemius was a special person for he had changed Singapore to what it is today. For Singaporeans today, a huge debt of gratitude is owed to the Dutch economist.

[Straits Times, Dr Albert Winsemius Singapore’s trusted guide, 7 Dec 1996]

He was behind the 10-year development plan that saw the island state transform into today’s high technology, high value added industrial hub.

[Straits Times, He Believed in Singapore’s Future, 7 Dec 1996]

Is sgoreng saying Straits Times is Westerner dog’s shit?

Albert Winsemius presented a ten-year development plan to turn Singapore from a port dependent on entrepot trade to a manufacturing and industrial centre. Following the Winsemius Report, the Legislative Assembly passed an Act in 1961 to create a statutory board to promote industrialisation and economic development. The EDB came into being …

[Lim Kim San: A Builder of Singapore, Asad Latif, page 106]

Is sgoreng saying Lim Kim San is Westerner dog’s shit?

Dr Winsemius of the Netherlands and Mr I.F. Tang of China were two foreign friends of Singapore who made extraordinary contributions to the economic development of Singapore as leader and secretary of the first UN Industrialisation Survey Team in 1961.

[A Mandarin and the Making of Public Policy: Reflections, Ngiam Tong Dow, page 66]

Is sgoreng saying Ngiam Tong Dow is Westerner dog’s shit?

The Winsemius Report, as it is commonly known, eventually formed the blueprint for Singapore’s development efforts.

[No Miracle: What Asia Can Teach All Countries about Growth, Mitchell Wigdor, Chapter 6]

Is sgoreng saying Westerner Mitchell Wigdor is Westerner dog’s shit?

Singapore’s economic miracle owes something to Dutch economist Dr Albert Winsemius. Dr Albert Winsemius was not merely a consultant, he was someone who revolutionalised and set Singapore’s economy in the right direction.

[Tactical Globalization: Learning from the Singapore Experiment, Aaron Kon, page 170]

Is sgoreng saying author Aaron Kon is Westerner dog’s shit?

Goh Keng Swee and Dr Albert Winsemius are generally regarded as the brains behind the coherent export/foreign investment oriented policies that Singapore has followed.

[Multinationals and the Growth of the Singapore Economy, Hafiz Mirza, page 77]

Is sgoreng saying author Hafiz Mirza is Westerner dog’s shit?

In line with the recommendation of the Winsemius Mission, Singapore implemented policies contrary to the spirit of the 1960s by allowing foreign companies full ownership of their investments and control of operations. This gave Singapore an immediate advantage over other countries that had adopted a more nationalistic or socialist philosophy that prevented complete foreign ownership and control of large manufacturing investments.

[Singapore, the Energy Economy: From the first refinery to the end of cheap oil, Ng Weng Hoong, page 12]

Is sgoreng saying author Ng Weng Hoong is Westerner dog’s shit?

With Singapore’s secession in 1965, the United Nations Proposed Industrialization Programme for the State of Singapore became the basis for Singapore’s industrialisation strategy.

[State enterprise in Singapore: legal importation and development, Philip Nalliah Pillai, page 30]

Is sgoreng saying author Philip Nalliah Pillai is Westerner dog’s shit?

Singapore’s emergence as a pivotal manufacturing node in the emerging network of transnational capitalism was partly made possible by missionary zeal displayed in the adoption of the Winsemius Report, submitted on behalf of the United Nations Industrial Survey Mission of 1960.

[CyberAsia: The Internet And Society in Asia, Zaheer Baber, page 59]

Is sgoreng saying author Zaheer Baber is Westerner dog’s shit?

Sgoreng did not pass primary school science?

Sgoreng wrote:

Despite the article quoted, reason for yourself. There are UNDP advisors in many other countries. How many of them have done as well as SG? This should give you idiots an inkling of how important or unimportant those advisors are.

What Sgoreng was effectively saying is this:

Many other potted plants receive sunlight and carbon dioxide but only the SG potted plant survived. This shows how important or unimportant sunlight and carbon dioxide is to plant growth.

From his reasoning, it seems like Sgoreng failed his primary school science.

Sgoreng happily wrote the opposite of what is printed in books

Sgoreng wrote:

Winsemius Industrialisation Plan called for Singapore’s own product – products which are completely made in Singapore by local industries financed by local investments. Who in the rest of the whole would buy such Singapore’s products in the first few years after we became independent in 1965? The future looked so bleak that a trade delegation was sent to Africa on the off chance of picking up some business. Little trade followed. Even Africans were not convinced that we could make goods better than others. For an initial period, Jurong Industrial estate was mostly empty except for some HK and Taiwan investments in toys, textiles and garments.

What Sgoreng wrote is largely contradicted by the books below:

In 1960, a UN industrial survey mission headed by Albert Winsemius was sent to Singapore, at the PAP government’s request, to survey the possibility of industrialisation. The Winsemius Report recommended, among other things, that Singapore should make use of the skills and ability of the local labour force to develop certain selected industries including chemicals, building material, steel-rolling, ship-building, and electrical appliances and parts, by wooing well-known foreign firms to set up joint ventures with local firms. It also advised that the new local industries to be set up should aim at the overseas market, since the domestic market was tiny. In 1961, the government drew the State Development Plan based on the Winsemius Report, which later became a Five-Year Development Plan. That same year, in accordance with the advice given by Winsemius, it set up the Economic Development Board (EDB), which was then given the task of constructing industrial estates, providing loans to firms in the private sector, attracting FDI, setting up joint ventures with foreign MNCs, and putting into practice fiscal measures under the Pioneer Industries Ordinance.

[Japanese Firms in Contemporary Singapore, Hiroshi Shimizu, page 31]

The 1960-61 United Nations mission led by Albert Winsemius helped develop a blueprint for Singapore’s industrialisation and development plan and recommended the establishment of EDB. The Winsemius report provided the basis for Singapore’s first development plan. It made two particularly notable observations. The first was that Singapore did not lack entrepreneurs but they were mainly in commerce and not in manufacturing. This suggested the need for the government to participate directly to operate certain basic industries if neither foreign nor local enterprises were prepared to do so. However, said the report, long-run government participation might harm the investment climate unless it was true to commercial and market principles. The second point recommended the establishment of a nonpolitical EDB with divisions for financing, industrial facilities, projects, technical consulting, services, and promotion. The report recognised that the EDB’s core function should be the promotion of investment and that it should eventually hand over its financing activities to an industrial development bank. The Winsemous report was accepted and its recommendations implemented almost immediately. In its early years, the EDB had technical advisers from the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Initially, it concentrated on the four industries identified in the Winsemius report, namely, shipbuilding and repair, metal engineering, chemicals, and electrical equipment and appliances.

[Lessons from East Asia, Danny M Leipziger, pages 240, 241]

Thus, instead of calling for local industries by local investments as claimed by Sgoreng, Dr Winsemius instead called for wooing well known foreign firms and foreign investments. The industries recommended in Winsemius’ report indeed became the industries that our nation heavily pursued which continue to exist today or had been integral to our nation building. The successful establishment of Philips in Singapore proved Dr Winsemius right and naysayers wrong. What is strange is that after 50 years, there are still naysayers like Sgoreng around.

Sgoreng contradicts Dr Goh Keng Swee for reason behind electronics investments

Sgoreng wrote:

Our economic and unemployment problems were largely solved only when SG was able to attract US electronics investments. Winsemius role in this is obscure, if any. It was LKY working hard as SG’s super-salesman travelling across America to convince US electronics corporations to set up factories here. He was very successful. The Americans came. Singaporeans had the opportunity to show their good work ethos. After that, Euro and Japs investments followed. And there’s a good Singapore Story to tell.

Contrary to what Sgoreng said, the key to Singapore being able to attract US electronics investments was China’s Cultural Revolution in 1966 which scared off investors from nearby South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong to farther away Singapore.

It is a matter for speculation whether in the absence of the upheavals caused by the Cultural Revolution in the mid and late 1960s, the large American multinationals – among them, National Semiconductors and Texas Instruments – would have sited their offshore facilities in countries more familiar to them, such as South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. These resources had skills superior to Singapore’s. My own judgment remains that these three areas were too close to the scene of trouble, the nature of which could not but cause alarm to multinational investors.

[Wealth of East Asian Nations, Goh Keng Swee, page 256]

Evidences early in this article already showed that the policy of wooing foreign direct investments came directly from Dr Winsemius’ “United Nations Proposed Industrialization Programme for the State of Singapore”. Dr Winsemius was also deeply involved in bringing Dutch multinationals like Philips and Shell.

A year after his first visit to Singapore, he presented a 10-year economic development plan. Winsemius also advised the government about large scale housing projects in Singapore and managed to get Philips, Shell and Exxon to Singapore.

[Managing Transaction Costs in the Era of Globalization, F. A. G. den Butter, page 38]

Our 153rd press freedom is reason why all credit due to others went to LKY

Sgoreng wrote:

TRE editor and its idiotic posters should ask themselves this. Besides SG, who else have accorded recognition to Winsemius for his work in SG? No other countries. Not even the UN itself.

The main reason is our World Number 153rd press freedom which distorts the truth so much that many Singaporeans and outsiders can no longer tell truth from falsehoods emanating from Singapore.

Useless evidence from Sgoreng

Sgoreng wrote:

Lastly, let’s hear from Mr. Winsemius himself. Dr Winsemius retired as Singapore’s economic advisor in December 1983, at the age of 74. He was then quoted saying, “I leave with a saddened heart. It (Singapore) has become part of my life, more or less. It can do without me. It could do without me years ago. But it became part of my life. So I will shed a few tears, imaginary tears.” Singapore was a country he regarded almost as home.

This statement conveys nothing apart from Dr Winsemius having satisfied himself that he has done his work in guiding Singapore well.

Employer contributed CPF rightfully belongs to employees

March 8, 2015

The notion that employer contributed CPF isn’t our money is essentially a false one.

Many jobs in the market today are open to foreigner competition including jobs in government linked companies. Suppose a foreigner and a local with similar qualifications, experiences and interview performances compete for the same job. If the foreigner asks for $4,800 in cash and nothing else while the local asks for $4,800 gross + employer contributed CPF of say $960 for a total sum of $5,760, the foreigner will end up getting the job because he is cheaper, the local will end up losing the job because he is more expensive when employer CPF is included. In this case, employer CPF is a bane, not a boon to locals.

In order for the local to not lose out, he will have to lower his gross to $4,000 so that his gross + employer CPF of $800 = $4,800 is exactly the same as that demanded by the foreigner. In which case, the $800 employer CPF isn’t some unmerited gift that the local receives on top of his gross but that part of his original asking that he has to forgo so that his final total salary including employer CPF stays competitive when compared to that of a foreigner.

Even for public sector jobs that foreigners are restricted from, pegging is usually done to the private sector. This means that all else being the same, a public sector hirer only needs to pay $4,000 gross to someone who would similarly have gotten $4,000 gross in the private sector. The public sector employee will end up being in the same situation of having to lower his asking from $4,800 to $4,000 because that is all the public sector hirer has to pay to match his or her private sector counterpart. So in the same token, the public sector employee’s $800 employer CPF isn’t some unmerited amount that he receives on top of his gross but that part of his asking that he has to forgo in order that his gross + employer CPF can match those in the private sector.

To conclude, all else being the same, employer CPF isn’t some unmerited, free money that employees receive on top of their gross salary. Employer CPF is the amount by which an employee’s gross salary has to be depressed in order that his gross + employer CPF can stay competitive compared to the amount asked by a foreigner or paid in the private sector.

The only situation where employer CPF becomes free money is when an employee who is not on CPF is suddenly given CPF without any reduction in his gross. But still in this case, the take home will be reduced and this has been known to turn off some employees.

Lee Kuan Yew unworthy of tribute

March 8, 2015

I refer to the 6 Mar 2014 Straits Times report “Pay tribute to Mr Lee and other pioneers.

I disagree with Ms Irene Ng’s exhortation for our nation to pay Mr Lee Kuan Yew a special tribute in this year’s NDP.

Mr Lee has personally insulted Singaporeans time and again, once referring to us as animals not having spurs stuck deep enough into our hide and on another occasion threatening Singaporeans in Aljunied with five years of repent if they didn’t vote for PAP. Why should the nation honor a person who insults and threatens its people?

Mr Lee was Senior Minister when he allowed the PAP to disadvantage opposition wards for HDB upgrading. Why should segments of this nation that have been disadvantaged by Lee Kuan Yew and his party honor him?

Mr Lee spoke for the freedom of the press at the beginning of his political career but did an about turn to his own words the moment he consolidated power. We can find many more flip flops in what he said throughout his life. Why should this nation honor a person who doesn’t honor his words?

Mr Lee locked many Singaporeans up, some for longer than Nelson Mandela had been, without ever giving them a chance at an open trial in court. No matter how some state apparatuses try to distort the stories of these innocent Singaporeans, the fact remains that these weren’t people who went around carrying guns and shooting people. They were not the equivalent of terrorists that today’s ISA is used for. Why should this nation honor a person who caused so much pain and anguish to many innocent Singaporeans?

I also disagree with Ms Ng saying:

Without his strong and visionary leadership, without his determination and gumption, Singapore would certainly not be where it is today.”

What Ms Ng said isn’t fact but mere speculation and perhaps even wishful thinking. It was none other than Mr Lee’s good comrade Dr Goh Keng Swee who said that Singapore had overcome one adversity after another during colonial times long before PAP came about and that PAP’s good work was merely the continuation of excellent British colonial policies and institutions honed and perfected over more than a century since our founding in 1819. So if we honor Dr Goh Keng Swee and believe in his words, we must also believe that without PAP, whichever other team had received these excellent British colonial inheritances in 1959 would have steered Singapore to where it is today just the same or even better.

Visionary leadership is the last thing you would associate Mr Lee with. All that Lee could envision soon after he took charge in 1959 was merger with Malaysia, not export industrialization that ultimately brought Singapore success. Mr Lee used his ‘strong leadership’ to plunge Singapore into a disastrous merger with Malaya. If Mr Lee had vision, why did he not envision the bad blood that would ensue almost immediately after the merger? In an interview some years back, Mr Lee boasted of having extra long antennae that could sense far into the future, and almost immediately after that, GIC which he was then the board chairman of, suffered tremendous losses over the Global Financial Crisis. If Mr Lee has vision, why did he not prevent those stupendous GIC losses? The only vision Lee has is borrowed vision. Export industrialization was Dr Winsemius’ vision executed by Dr Goh Keng Swee. Why should this nation honour Mr Lee for the vision and contributions of others? In a tribute to Dr Winsemius on his demise, Mr Lee actually thanked Dr Winsemius for showing him how Singapore could prosper through export industrialization. So if Ms Ng wants to honor Mr Lee, she should first honor Mr Lee’s words when he said that both Singapore and himself are indebted to Dr Winsemius for our prosperity. Should Ms Ng call for the honoring of Dr Winsemius this NDP instead in honor of Mr Lee’s words?

Rebutting Burhan Gafoor – Part 7

January 26, 2015

This is part 7 of the rebuttal to Singapore High Commissioner to Australia Mr Burhan Gafoor’s “Response to Poh Soo Kai’s allegations”.

Mr Gafoor wrote:

The Barisan Sosialis was formed in July 1961 on the explicit instructions of Fong Chong Pik – aka “the Plen”, as Mr Lee Kuan Yew had named him in his Battle For Merger radio talks, “Plen” being short for the “Plenipotentiary” of the CPM who had first made contact with Mr Lee in 1957. Fong was the chief CPM representative and operative in Singapore. The Plen’s superior in the CPM was Eu Chooi Yip, who was based in Jakarta and in overall charge of the CPM’s operations in Singapore. Eu too confirmed in his memoirs that it was the Plen who instigated the formation of the Barisan. As the Barisan was the main CUF organisation, it was led by the top CPM open front leader in Singapore, Lim Chin Siong. Lim became secretary-general of the party while Dr Poh Soo Kai was its assistant secretary-general.

[Mr Gafoor’s reference: Chen Jian 陈剑(Chin Chong Cham, Lang Jian Zhu Meng – Yu Zhu Ye Kou Shu Li Shi Dang An 浪尖逐梦 – 余柱业口述历史档案 [Chasing Dreams on the Wave’s Crest], page 209]

Mr Gafoor could not even be consistent with his accusations in one paragraph. He first claimed that Fong Chong Pik instructed the formation of Barisan. But when quoting from his evidence, Mr Gafoor could only say Plen instigated Barisan’s formation. Explicit instruction and instigation are miles apart from each other. The former conveys the idea of authority, the latter doesn’t. From this alone, we can see that Mr Gafoor’s evidence doesn’t allow him to say what he wanted to say but he said it nonetheless – that Fong Chong Pik instructed Barisan’s formation.

Before we even bring in other evidences, we can already see the ridiculousness of Mr Gafoor’s assertion. Why would Lim Chin Siong, the undisputed leader of the Chinese masses, the centre of universe of Singapore’s political movement then, have needed instructions from Fong Chong Pik to form a new political party after being ousted from PAP? Did Chiam See Tong need instructions to form a new party after being ousted from his old party? Did JB Jeyaratnam need instructions to form a new party after deciding to part ways with his old party? In terms of gravitas and influence, Lim Chin Siong was so much larger than either Chiam See Tong or JB Jeyaratnam. What instructions did Lim Chin Siong need to form Barisan after being ousted from PAP?

Fong Chong Pik’s perspective

According to the book Mr Gafoor quoted, Fong Chong Pik had these to say about Lim Chin Siong:

Of course, Lim Chin Siong was the left-wing’s most important person. After the appearance of the “Plen”, he remained the most important left-wing person, one with even greater influence and authority …

If, as someone seems to have said, “No Lee Kuan Yew, no Singapore”, then it follows that, “No Lim Chin Siong, no Lee Kuan Yew”. But personally, I believe that a better way of expressing the historical truth is to put it as “Only with the existence of a Lim Chin Siong, could there have been a Lee Kuan Yew” … The three words “Lim Chin Siong” stand mightily, forming a brilliant light in the fire of anti-colonial struggle by the people of Singapore. He symbolized the fighting spirit of the people …

Lim Chin Siong was a heroic person who, in the most difficult time could unite, mobilize and provide leadership to all forces to struggle for a common cause …

When first appearing on the scene, he (Lim Chin Siong) already showed the abilities of generals and ministers … His achievements and illustrious name came from Heaven.

[Fong Chong Pik: The Memoirs of a Malayan Communist Revolutionary, page, 170, 175 – 177]

Could these be the words of someone who would order Lim Chin Siong around? Quite clearly, Fong Chong Pik greatly admired Lim Chin Siong and looked up to him as a general, minister and leader. Fong Chong Pik clearly would not have ordered Lim Chin Siong around let alone instructed him to form Barisan.

Eu Chooi Yip’s evidence

Mr Gafoor’s so-called evidence came from Eu Chooi Yip’s Chinese oral historical archive:

Lim (interviewer): What about Barisan’s set up? Whose initiative was it?

Eu: Also Fong Chong Pik. In fact, we believed at that time … yes, yes, he decided on the spot.

[translated from Eu Chooi Yip’s浪尖逐梦 – 余柱业口述历史档案]

But Eu also said on the same page:

Lim (interviewer): At the time of PAP’s founding in 1954, both sides cooperated, did the decision then come from the Central Committee?

Eu: The initiative came from Fong Chong Pik.

Lim (interviewer): But at the time of PAP’s founding in 1954 …

Eu: We completely didn’t know, even those of us in Indonesia also didn’t know. He was on the ground deciding everything, he sent people to participate. Fong Chong Pik was a man of action. Even though his rank in the party wasn’t very high, he hadn’t joined the party for long, but he was on the ground, made decisions on the spot, decided to cooperate with him (Lee Kuan Yew), participated in those activities. He had the approval of the central committee in everything that he did, the initiative … the great majority of the initiatives came from him …

Lim (interviewer): The split (of PAP), according to currently available information was due to the Anson by-election … in the year of ’61 after Tunku announced the Malaysia plan, Anson by-election, several union leaders proposed to abolish the Internal Security Act, and release all important PAP figures detained, it was the precursor to the split …

Eu: That can be said

Lim (interviewer): The decision then probably came from the Central Committee lah!

Eu: There were no obvious instructions from above; it was all based on the man on the ground Fong Chong Pik’s decision, because transport wasn’t convenient, not easy to explain the (transport) arrangement, our transport arrangement in the past was complicated. Because there was no radio station, we at first wanted to do this, no radio station, all through mail, mail means I write a letter to an Indonesian colleague, he hands (the letter) over to another colleague in the CCP, CCP then hands over to MCP, it’s very indirect, we do not have direct relationships, also not convenient to give too much detail in the letter. So we could only wait till there were people who went over, then we discussed in detail, after discussions we just gave a few principles for the local agent to carry out, could only be like this. So we in the South, in Singapore, in Indonesia, these activities, basically myself, Fong Chong Pik, these few people decided everything, and another person in charge in Indonesia, three persons, basically decided everything.

[translated from Eu Chooi Yip’s浪尖逐梦 – 余柱业口述历史档案, page 207-209]

So clearly from his oral history, we can see that Eu Chooi Yip wasn’t even in the action. He was in Indonesia and hardly in communication with Fong Chong Pik because of so called transport difficulties so much so that he didn’t know most of the major things that happened in Singapore when they happened. Eu Chooi Yip’s wasn’t a firsthand account, neither was it an up-to-date account given the lack of communication between Singapore and Indonesia. Given these circumstances, it would be difficult for any reasonable person to admit Eu’s evidence as being cast iron.

Other evidences from Eu Chooi Yip

Mr Gafoor shouldn’t have missed what Eu Chooi Yip discussed with Chin Peng in another book he quoted:

ECY (Eu Chooi Yip) argued strongly that there was an ever widening split between the PAP’s right-wing faction, led by Lee Kuan Yew, and a middle-of-the road group, seemingly headed by Sinnathamby Rajaratnam … There was also a third faction ECY identified as the ‘Chinese communal group’.

[Chin Peng: My Side of History]

Thus, even amongst themselves, Eu Chooi Yip didn’t refer to the faction that would eventually become the Barisan as one of their own but as a distinct ‘Chinese communal group’, not even a pro-communist group. So how could Fong Chong Pik have instructed the group that would eventually form Barisan to form Barisan when they were only a Chinese communal group and not a communist or pro-communist group?

It was for these reasons that perhaps Mr Gafoor was left with no choice but to eventually modify his use of the word “instructed” to “instigated”. But instigation means next to nothing in the context of the formation of Barisan. Would Lim Chin Siong, the star politician of his time needed instigation from anybody let alone Fong Chong Pik to form Barisan? Even if it had been true that Fong Chong Pik encouraged Lim Chin Siong to form Barisan, it would be a mistake for Mr Gafoor to think that Lim Chin Siong formed Barisan only because Fong Chong Pik said so or that Lim Chin Siong wouldn’t have formed Barisan had Fong Chong Pik not suggested so.

Mr Gafoor omitted Dr Lee Siew Choh

It was strange for Mr Gafoor to refer to Barisan as being led by so-called top ‘CPM open front leader’ Lim Chin Siong without ever mentioning Barisan chairman Dr Lee Siew Choh throughout his entire letter. Dr Lee Siew Choh was never charged with being a communist and never once served time under the Internal Security act. Mr Gafoor knows this and so could not drag the good name of Dr Lee Siew Choh into his communist accusations. But without dragging Dr Lee Siew Choh into the picture, Mr Gafoor inevitably left a gaping loophole in his battery of accusations. How could CPM have led Barisan without Barisan chairman Dr Lee Siew Choh ever being a ‘CPM open front leader’ himself? That would be like accusing PAP of being led by some outlawed group through Secretary General Lee Kuan Yew when Party Chairman Dr Toh Chin Chye was never a part of that outlawed group.

Didn’t Mr Gafoor accuse Barisan of reverting to CPM’s original and real intentions in 1965 when it rejected Singapore’s independence as being phony? But by then, Lim Chin Siong was already locked away and could no longer serve as the so-called ‘CPM open front leader’. The main person left carrying on the fight for Barisan was Dr Lee Siew Choh. But Dr Lee Siew Choh was never a communist or a ‘CPM front leader’. It was Mr Gafoor who said that Operation Coldstore had targeted communists. But wave after wave of Operation Coldstores never targeted Dr Lee Siew Choh. Dr Lee Siew Choh was never once targeted by any operation. Going by Mr Gafoor’s logic, Dr Lee Siew Choh shouldn’t have been a communist. In that case, on what basis does Mr Gafoor insist that non-communist Dr Lee Siew Choh had led Barisan in seeking to revert to CPM’s original and real intentions in 1965?

If Mr Gafoor had truly and sincerely believed in the evidence that he quoted from Chin Peng, that Operation Coldstore had shattered CPM’s underground network, how could he continue to insist that three years after CPM’s shattering in 1962, Barisan continued to be led by CPM open front leaders seeking to revert to CPM intentions?

Such was the irony of Mr Gafoor’s piecemeal and uncoordinated accusations, he achieved nothing except to confirm that he is the Number 1 culprit of selective evidence that he accused others of.

Rebutting Burhan Gafoor – Part 6

January 15, 2015

This is part 6 of the rebuttal to Singapore High Commissioner to Australia Mr Burhan Gafoor’s “Response to Poh Soo Kai’s allegations”.

Mr Gafoor made sweeping statement that wasn’t true

Mr Gafoor wrote:

That the security operation was targeted at the communists and their supporters – not mere democratic opponents of the PAP – has been affirmed by no less an authority than the CPM secretary-general Chin Peng. He acknowledged in his memoirs that he had expected such a crackdown and had advised his cadres and followers to take the necessary precautions. He expressed regret that they did not do so, as Operation Coldstore, in his words, “shattered our underground network throughout the island”. “Those who escaped the police net went into hiding. Many fled to Indonesia”. Clearly, Operation Coldstore had not targeted innocent, non-communist “socialists”.

[Mr Gafoor’s reference: Chin Peng: My Side of History, page 439]

Mr Gafoor was referring to this paragraph from Chin Peng’s memoirs:

Working from prepared name lists, the raiding parties managed to seize 115 suspects. Among them was James Puthucheary. The Singapore crackdown we had been expecting for almost four years had, in fact, only materialised after strong pressure on Lee from both Tunku and the British. Our deliberations with ECY two years earlier had correctly forecast the event, but had failed to visualise putting in place any form of effective countermeasures. My plea to ‘prepare for the worst’ had been to no avail. Operation Cold Store shattered our underground network throughout the island. Those who escaped the police net went into hiding. Many fled to Indonesia.

Thus, Chin Peng didn’t say that all 115 Operation Coldstore detainees were part of the underground network shattered. Neither did Chin Peng say that the 24 Barisan members seized were part of that underground network. Chin Peng did not say who or how many amongst Operation Coldstore detainees were part of his underground network. Therefore, Mr Gafoor cannot conveniently assume that all 115 Operation Coldstore detainees were part of Chin Peng’s underground network. As long as 1 out of the 115 Operation Coldstore detainees wasn’t part of Chin Peng’s underground network, Mr Gafoor has not right to make the sweeping statement that Operation Coldstore targeted communists or that Operation Coldstore had not targeted innocent non-communists.

The usual fate of communists caught then was either exile or banishment to China. According to this list of Singapore political detainees (, only 6 out of 123 Operation Coldstore detainees suffered this fate with one more banished to India. Effectively, only 7 out of 123 Operation Coldstore detainees were potentially part of the underground network that Chin Peng mentioned. Thus, the great majority of Operation Coldstore detainees were unlikely to be communists or part of Chin Peng’s underground network. Mr Gafoor was therefore a lot more wrong than right when he said that Operation Coldstore targeted communists who were part of Chin Peng’s underground network.

Furthermore on page 438 of the same book, Chin Peng said:

But neither Dr Lee Siew Chor … nor, I understand it, other prominent opposition figures like the Puthucheary brothers – James and Dominic – had ever been CPM members.

It would be strange for Chin Peng to deny that James Puthucheary was a CPM member on page 438 only to admit on page 439 that James was part of the CPM underground network shattered by Operation Coldstore.

Shattering of CPM underground could mean its complete withdrawal from Singapore

Chin Peng’s words can be better understood by referring to another book that Mr Gafoor referred to where Fong Chong Pik wrote:

By 1961-62, the CPM’s underground organizations in Singapore were feeling it a great burden just to take care of the safety of the cadres who were avoiding arrests. The pressure had become so heavy that it was most difficult to handle. Any person who was not personally involved simply cannot imagine how difficult it was …

It was around the end of 1961, in accordance with suggestions relayed to me from the rest of the working group in Indonesia, that we began the task of withdrawing in small groups a total of more than 50 male and female cadres from the island. The withdrawal was conducted smoothly. Those cadres who were believed to have exposed themselves and whose safety was therefore threatened were taken out on a priority basis. As a result, practically the entire effective strength of the organization was withdrawn. Just think, on such a tiny island cadres would be left whose safety was not threatened? We successfully preserved the cadres, but our struggle in Singapore began to wane and eventually failed.

[Fong Chong Pik: The Memoirs of a Malayan Communist Revolutionary, page 172]

Thus, Chin Peng’s shattering of CPM underground network could refer to the complete withdrawal of the CPM underground from Singapore resulting in the waning and eventual failure of CPM underground in Singapore. There are thus other possible interpretations to Chin Peng’s shattering of CPM underground network. Mr Gafoor cannot be so adamant with his accusations when his evidence can be interpreted in more than one way.

In another book, Chin Peng referred to Barisan members taken during Operation Cold Store as “them” not “us”. Chin Peng thus differentiated Barisan from CPM.

… Lee Kuan Yew seized the opportunity to have the Barisan Socialis leaders arrested in Operation Cold Store (February 1963), branding opponents of Malaya as pro-Indonesian. This harmed them badly at a time …

[Dialogues with Chin Peng: New Light on the Malayan Communist Party, C. C. Chin and Karl Hack, page 320]

Specific examples of non-communists detained during Operation Coldstore

Lim Chin Siong was detained during Operation Coldstore and since Mr Gafoor was so fond of quoting from Chin Peng, he should take note that Chin Peng never regarded Lim Chin Siong a communist:

Chin Peng: I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Lim Chin Siong never admitted he was Communist Party member.

[Dialogues with Chin Peng: New light on the Malayan Communist Party, C C Chin & Karl Hack, page 191]

Dr Lim Hock Siew was taken away during Operation Coldstore when his son was only 5 years old. Why would Dr Lim choose to be incarcerated for close to 20 years when a simple renunciation of communism would have set him free? Dr Lim’s 20 year steadfast stance against renouncing communism because he was no communist in the first place was more than sufficient proof that he was never a communist.

Why Barisan legislative assemblymen spared from Operation Coldstore?

Straits Times reported that all Barisan legislative assemblymen were spared from Operation Coldstore. So if Mr Gafoor was correct, that Operation Coldstore only targeted communists, it would mean that only non-elected Barisan members were communist because only they were caught during Operation Coldstore. On the other hand, elected Barisan members were non-communist since they were spared from Operation Coldstore. That would mean that communist or non-communist laid in the hands of voters. Voters decided who was communist and who wasn’t which would be quite ridiculous. The fact that PAP didn’t touch any Barisan legislative assemblymen during Operation Coldstore showed that this was more than anything else a political operation.

In all, 113 people were rounded up, including 24 Barisan members, 21 trade union leaders, 17 Nanyang University (Nantah) students and graduates, seven members of rural associations, and five journalists.

However, all 13 Barisan legislative assemblymen and party chairman Lee Siew Choh were spared.

[Straits Times, ‘I was interrogated day and night for six months’, 10 Sept 2009]


Mr Gafoor was wrong to make sweeping statements about Operation Coldstore targeting non-innocent communists solely on the basis of Chin Peng’s statement that Operation Coldstore had shattered his underground network. Chin Peng didn’t say that all 123 Operation Coldstore detainees belonged to his underground network. As long as one Operation Coldstore detainee had been innocent, it would be unfair for Mr Gafoor to claim without qualification that Operation Coldstore detainees had been non-innocent communists. It is not difficult to find Operation Coldstore detainees who were innocent, most notable of which was Dr Lim Siew Hock.

Worse still, only a tiny fraction of Operation Coldstore detainees were banished to China, suggesting that the great majority of detainees weren’t communists which in turn implies that Mr Gafoor was probably a lot more wrong than right in making the sweeping statement that Operation Coldstore targeted non-innocent communists.

These together with other evidences show that the basis of Mr Gafoor’s accusations is rather weak and doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny of a more robust evaluation of all evidences concerning Operation Coldstore.

Rebutting Burhan Gafoor – Part 5

January 7, 2015

This is part 5 of the rebuttal to Singapore High Commissioner to Australia Mr Burhan Gafoor’s “Response to Poh Soo Kai’s allegations”.

Mr Gafoor said:

Dr Poh now says that Singapore’s separation from Malaysia in 1965 proved that Barisan’s position on merger in 1961-62 was correct. This is yet another reversal of position. In 1965, following separation, the Barisan had condemned Singapore’s independence, characterising it as “phony” … They never believed that Singapore should be independent of Malaysia and had opposed merger in 1963 merely for tactical reasons …

No reversal from Dr Poh

Before that, Dr Poh said:

The 1963 merger was a wrong decision. The disastrous outcome was foreseen by the opposition Barisan Sosialis. We wanted reunification with Malaya, but NOT on the terms that Lee obtained. Those simply could not work.

Contrary to what Mr Gafoor said, Dr Poh didn’t make any reversal at all. Barisan’s foreseeing of the disastrous merger with Malaysia under unfair terms by the PAP was recorded in black and white for posterity:

Mr Lim Chin Siong, secretary-general of the Barisan Sosialis, has personally pledged to Tengku Abdul Rahman his party’s support of the merger and Malaysia principles …

Mr. Lim told a press conference today: “I was prompted to write to the Tengku, for, like the Tengku, we are deeply concerned with the dangerous drift towards communalism in our political situation …

“Our policy has always been to achieve a permanent basis for unity.

“It is for this reason that we have opposed the PAP’s constitutional proposal. We believe that it would be disastrous to national unity.”

[The Straits Times, 30 March 1962, Page 16, Mystery letter: It was from Lim]

No Barisan reversal in 1965 vis-à-vis 1961/62

Mr Gafoor cannot say that there had been a Barisan reversal in 1965 vis-à-vis 1961/62 since Barisan had already started to support merger sometime between 1961 and 1962. Mr Gafoor should not twist Barisan’s opposition to unfair terms of the merger as opposition to genuine merger. Barisan supported, not opposed genuine merger with Malaya:

Mr. Bani declared: “We have stated in the past very clearly that we want merger. We have stated that we want complete merger.

“We have stated that we want a merger which is genuine and which can bring about genuine national unity.

“We have also stated that in our view merger arrangements which will create different classes of citizens will only further disunity among our people, which will deny the people of Singapore a common political life with their brothers and sisters in the Federation, will not constitute genuine merger, will not bring about genuine national unity.”

The Prime Minister had described the Government’s offer as realistic alternatives. The Barisan Sosialis disputed this because the people should not be compelled to choose one of these alternatives simply because the PAP considered them realistic.

And he asserted: “When the PAP say that these alternatives are realistic, what they do in fact mean is that these are terms which are acceptable to the Government of the Federation of Malaya.

“Surely what the Federation Government is prepared to accept is not necessarily good for Singapore, is not necessarily fair for the people of Singapore.

“We refuse to accept a position where merger terms for Singapore are dictated by a handful of people in the Federation.

“The fate of the people of Singapore should not be made to depend on the charity of the few men who hold power in their hands in the Federation.”

Merger was inevitable but if the terms obtainable now were not satisfactory, then we will have to wait, Mr. Bani declared.

[The Straits Times, 12 July 1962, Page 5, Referendum: Bid to pose 4th question defeated]

… The chairman of the party, Dr. Lee Siew Choh, read out the letter, and the Tengku’s reply – neither proved to be a political bombshell – following taunts from the (PAP) Government benches regarding its contents …

The Barisan Sosialis letter, signed by the party’s Secretary-General, Mr. Lim Chin Siong …

… Mr. Lim told reporters: “It has never been my intention to make political capital out of my correspondence with the Tengku. “Unfortunately, the desperate PAP leaders have again seen fit to distort my correspondence with the Tengku. “In order to expose the lies of these political bankrupts. I regret that I had to reveal the text of the letters.” …

Dear Tengku.

We gladly welcome your desire to see the creation of one country sharing a common feeling, outlook and destiny. We wish to assure you that in this desire for national unity, we are completely with you.

Like you, we also want to see that nothing will come about that may cause any disruption to the present harmony existing among the people of our country.

We feel that much of the unhappy feelings about Singapore have arisen from a lack of opportunities for apparently divergent views to be adequately discussed so that a happy and lasting solution could be obtained for the benefit of all our people.

And we feel that a free and frank exchange of views and discussion between us can contribute a great deal towards national unity.

[The Straits Times, 12 July 1962, Page 1, wrote to TENGKU]

Fundamental issues with merger should not be ignored

Mr Gafoor should not ignore fundamental issues pointed out by Barisan that weren’t resolved prior to our hasty merger with Malaya that ultimately resulted in our expulsion from Malaysia in 1965.

… The Barisan Sosialis today charged that the People’s Action Party was now “more keen in appeasing the communal prejudices of the Federation Government than of advancing the interests of the people it pretended to represent.”

… the Barisan Sosialis said that the P.A.P. was more keen on arguing why the people of Singapore should be given only second-rate citizenship status in Malaysia, and not equal Federal citizenship like the people in the other 14 States of Malaysia.

The Barisan statement said the P.A.P. had failed to reply to the “important” question of why, of all the 15 States in the proposed Malaysia, Singapore should be the only State where the people would not possess equal Federal citizenship status.

It said that the P.A.P. had again attempted to confuse the people that automatic conversion of Singapore citizenship to Federal citizenship on merger would mean the disenfranchisement of 340,000 Singapore citizens.

It charged that this was “a falsehood and a deliberate distortion of the factual position.”

The statement said that automatic Federal citizenship status for Singapore citizens simply meant that every one of the 624,000 persons who had been considered worthy to be citizens of Singapore automatically should be considered worthy to be citizens of the Federation on merger.

“This is the only sane and honest way to safeguard the interests of the people of Singapore.” it said.

[The Straits Times, 14 February 1962, Page 18, Citizenship: Barisan again attacks the P.A.P.]

The Barisan Sosialis today claimed that the Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s pledge on citizenship yesterday was “virtually an admission” that there was in fact no equality for Singapore citizens under the proposed merger and Malaysia arrangements …

The Barisan in its statement said: “If it were really true that the Federal Government is willing to grant absolute equality to Singapore citizens, why won’t it simply grant us all Federal citizenship just as it is prepared to grant to all the citizens of the Borneo territories?

“Surely that will be the most reassuring way to make us all equal in status with Federal citizens?

“Why then this insistence on a complicated arrangement of two types of citizenship?”

“If we are really meant to be equal, why not have just one common citizenship for all the people and be done with it?”

[The Straits Times, 5 June 1962, Page 16, Why not common citizenship for all? asks Barisan]

The Barisan Sosialis chairman, Dr. Lee Siew Choh, said today that the Referendum Bill, if it became law, would ask the people of Singapore to choose between two types of merger, both of which were unacceptable to the majority of the people.

… Dr. Lee charged that the “referendum plot” was devised by the People’s Action Party because it knew its merger proposals would be rejected by the people.

He said that realising its proposals would be rejected in a one-question referendum, the PAP added a worse proposal – the Penang or Malacca type of merger – and distorted it as the Barisan Sosialis stand.

Dr. Lee said: “Thus, the PAP hope the people will be driven to a position where they will have to support the PAP. Of course, to make doubly sure the notorious undemocratic and unheard-of-in-world-history blank paper clause is put in to prevent the people from even throwing in a blank vote when faced with two unacceptable alternatives.”

He dismissed the Penang-Malacca-type of merger as a distortion of the Barisan stand and as “a fiction of the imaginative minds of the P.A.P. leaders.”

[The Straits Times, 18 June 1962, Page 6, Both alternatives in referendum not acceptable: Dr. Lee]

Not true Barisan never believed that Singapore should be independent

Mr Gafoor was also wrong to say that Barisan never believed that Singapore should be independent of Malaysia. Barisan and those who would eventually become Barisan leaders have been asking for independence in 1957, since 1959 and in 1961.

Lee stated later in his memoirs that Lim Chin Siong, Fong Swee Suan and Woodhull had been “stirring up demands for an independent Singapore without a merger” from the time of their release from detention in Jun 1959.

[The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya: Tangled Strands of Modernity, Edgar Liao and Cheng Tju Lim and Guo Quan Seng, page 173]

At the Anson by-election on 15 July, Lim Chin Siong and seven other left-wing PAP assemblymen withheld support from the government’s candidate and instead backed David Marshall … who stood for immediate independence.

[Malaysia, A. J. Stockwell, page 145]

What did the pro-communists want Lee to fight for in London? It was immediate independence. This was their goal, and the reason why Lim Chin Siong had supported Marshall all the way in the failed negotiations of the previous year.

[Singapore: The Unexpected Nation, Edwin Lee, page 141]

Thus, while it can be said that Barisan updated its position between 1961 and 1962 in response to the inevitability of merger, it cannot be said that Barisan reversed its position in 1965 vis-à-vis 1961-62 since Barisan’s position had been consistent from 1961-62 to 1965.

There was basis to Singapore’s phony independence

Mr Gafoor should acknowledge that Barisan’s characterization of Singapore’s independence in 1965 as phony wasn’t without basis. Singapore was so weak then militarily that even Third World countries questioned Dr Toh Chin Chye whether Singapore could be independent. Rajaratnam had to admit that Singapore’s defense remained the concern of big powers as Singapore was dependent on, not independent of, big powers for defense. The severe constriction of space for foreign affairs that involved Malaysia, the refusal of the Malaysian 4th brigade to leave Singapore, the large British military presence in Singapore, all these pointed to a lack of real independence or a sense of phoniness to our independence in 1965.

Yet he (Lee Kuan Yew) was still empty-handed in 1965: the small Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) consisted of two infantry battalions (1SIR and 2SIR) comprising approximately fifty officers, a thousand enlisted men, and fewer than two thousand rifles. A few days after the separation from Malaysia, Lee lamented that Singapore “would be finished” if, for example, Indonesia decided to invade the island with only a tenth of its force … Toh Chin Chye … reported that even ministers from relatively small African countries asked him, “How could you be an independent country – no Army, no Navy and no Air Force?”

When the British government decided in 1968 to speed up the retreat of its forces east of the Suez Canal, Singapore was left virtually defenseless … In January 1969, Lee admitted that Singapore might need to employ mercenaries to defend itself. And S. Rajaratnam … publicly admitted that the defense of Singapore had to “remain the concern of big powers.”

Malaysian politicians mercilessly exploited the military vulnerability of Singapore between 1965 and 1969. In 1965, they prohibited Singapore from trading with Indonesia … In 1966 … Lee watched helplessly as the Malaysian government “resettled” the Sarawak Chinese community … accusing it of cooperating with the predominantly Chinese Clandestine Communist organization (CCO). The Sarawak United People’s Party, traditionally an ally of Lee’s People’s Action Party (PAP), asked him to protest the Malaysian decisions, but he was too weak to defend even his own island, Singapore.

Lee remained silent on the issue of the Sarawak Chinese community, mainly because he did not wish to provide Malaysian leaders with a pretext to invade Singapore. Fears about such impending invasion ran high in Singapore between 1965 and 1969 …

Malaysian politicians also manipulated their military forces in Singapore, as well as the separation agreement, in order to limit Singapore’s efforts to build its own credible defense force … They argued that Lee did not need to build a strong defense force, since Malaysia was responsible for the defense of Singapore. Naturally, Lee resented such an interpretation of the separation treaty, but being militarily “empty-handed,” …

Between 1965 and 1967, Malaysia refused to evacuate its Fourth Brigade and one of its infantry regiments from Singapore. Justifying such unusual behavior, its leaders argued that the separation agreement allowed them to maintain “bases and facilities” in Singapore for military purposes. The presence of these forces led to a full-scale diplomatic crisis between the two countries when, in February 1966, the 2SIR (2nd Singaporean Infantry Regiment) returned home from a long arduous mission in Sabah, only to find its camp occupied by the Malaysian Fourth Brigade. The Fourth Brigade also refused to hand back military signal and transport equipment vital to the new SAF …

The buildup of the SAF was further complicated because much of its manpower nucleus consisted of officers and soldiers who had been serving in the Malaysian defense forces at the time of separation. For their part, Singaporean manpower planners were delighted to release back to Malaysia several hundred Malaysian citizens serving in 1SIR and 2SIR. The Malaysians, however, were less eager to release Singaporean officers and soldiers back to Singapore … Lim Kim San … admitted in December 1968 that his ministry did not even know exactly how many Singaporeans were serving in the Malaysian defense forces as of August 9, 1965 (Singapore’s first Independence Day).

[A Question of Loyalty: Military Manpower Policy in Multiethnic States, Alon Peled, page 100-102]

They (Barisan) also referred to the presence of British bases and about 55,000 “occupation troops”, the presence of Malaysian units, the Pulau Senang barter trade “fiasco,” the Camp Temasek incident, and the “flare-up of tempers in Kuala Lumpur” when Indonesia wanted to recognise Singapore …

The statements also pledged to fight for “a genuinely independent, democratic united Malaya.”
In winding up the conference, Dr. Lee claimed that Malaya, including Singapore, was at present a police state.

[The Straits Times, 8 October 1966, Page 1, Barisan MPs quit]

Dr Lee said: “It is all a phoney and a humbug. There is no real independence.

“All the powers are not in the hands of the Singapore Government. For example, on foreign affairs matters, they have to get the approval from the Central Government before they can do anything.”

The Barisan leader also criticised the manner in which Singapore came out of Malaysia.

“Which leader of the people negotiates for his country’s independence in secret?” he asked.

“Mr. Lee Kuan Yew did it because he knows that it is not real independence …”

[The Straits Times, 16 August 1965, Page 4, Independence? It’s phoney—Dr. Lee]

Dr Lim Hock Siew’s explanation of phony independence

According to Dr Lim Hock Siew’s oral history record, there was indeed a theoretical basis to Dr Lee Siew Choh’s phony independence although Dr Lim disagreed that it should have been made into a campaign matter. He also confirmed that the majority of ISA detainees weren’t happy with the constant harping on phony independence.

Lim (interviewer): What was the general attitude of the detainees towards the Barisan’s stand to call [it a] phoney independence?

LHS: Firstly there was no consultation with the detainees inside the prison on this issue. There was no possibility of a consultation anyway. And that stand was taken by Dr Lee Siew Choh, and others in the Barisan Sosialis, who [were] outside prison. The majority of the detainees inside prison of course were not happy with this stand. The question of whether a country is independent or not has to be viewed from several planes, of course from the viewpoint of socialists, we do not consider a state to be genuinely independent unless the people of that state has gained economic independence because that is the basis of political independence. Unless you are economically self-reliant, you cannot be politically self-reliant. But that is going into theories of political economy. From the viewpoint of international politics, especially international law, a state is independent if it is recognised by other countries. And has gained admission to the United Nations. And under those criteria there was no doubt Singapore was independent from the viewpoint of international law.

Many of us in prison strongly felt that it was certainly not wise for the Barisan Sosialis to constantly harp on the slogan of phoney independence. For that would be to indulge in academic politics and it would most likely create confusion rather than conviction amongst the public and also even among many of our followers. It is a different matter if you talk about what is real independence, with our own cadres, so that our own cadres knew what to struggle for. But to talk about such things to a general population it would lead only to confusion. And it would also divert attention from issues which are more tangible to the people. So from that point of view many of us were very unhappy about the Barisan Sosialis leaders constantly harping on Singapore’s independence at that time being a phoney independence. Although in theory, in political theory we do not disagree with that because I have already stated, independence from a socialist viewpoint means total economic independence – together with a freedom of our people from domination from all foreign military forces. And at that time there were a lot of foreign military forces stationed within Singapore, and obviously from that point of view, it was not genuine independence. But again this point led to a lot of happiness among the detainees within prison. There was I remember continuous debate on this issue for a long time to come.

Lim (interviewer): Was there any consensus among the detainees?

LHS: There was no organized debate in that sense although later on more to avert or to avoid open antagonism with the Barisan Sosialis’ stand outside prison, most of the detainees did not take any opposing views.

Lim (Interviewer): So in other words on the Barisan’s phoney independence stance, there were two …

LHS: Yes, both within prison and outside prison.

Lim (interviewer): Among the detainees there were some who supported and some against.

LHS: Well, nobody opposed the socialist viewpoint that Singapore was not genuinely independent. On that score, from that angle there was no disagreement. The whole disagreement is whether we should harp on this as a main propaganda line against the PAP.

Lim (Interviewer): Was this feeling communicated to Barisan’s leaders through relatives?

LHS: Not that I know of, but I believe the Barisan Socialist leaders outside must have been aware of this. Because there was also disagreement among the Barisan Sosialis cadres outside prison and I later on came to hear that there was also intense debate on this issue outside prison. How the debate proceeded I was not aware of.

[Oral history of Dr Lim Hock Siew, Nation Archives of Singapore, Accession number: 000214, Project Title: Political History in Singapore 1945-1965]

Significant disagreement within Barisan on phony independence

Mr Gafoor should also note the intense internal disagreements within Barisan to Dr Lee Siew Choh’s phony independence and how the majority of Barisan were against Dr Lee in rejecting phony independence.

Two more Barisan Sosialis MPs, Mr. Kow Kee Seng (Paya Lebar) and Mr. Chio Cheng Thun (Chua Chu Kang), broke away from their party today.

The break was announced in hand-written Press statements in Chinese, which strongly denounced Dr. Lee Siew Choh, the Barisan Sosialis chairman, and his policies.

Their move, following closely upon Mr. Lim Huan Boon’s resignation from Parliament and leadership of the Barisan Opposition, have brought the party’s internal dissentions further into the open.

Both Mr. Kow and Mr. Chio are strongly backed by at least 22 of the party’s 30 supporting unions.
Their statement today voiced some of the arguments already advanced by these unions against Dr. Lee’s policies.

It was a fallacy, they said, to think that Singapore’s independence was “phoney”.
Independence must be accepted as an accomplished fact, and re-unification between Singapore and

Malaya must be the long-term objective of every political party in the country.

Both … urged that political detainees be released as soon as possible “for the good name of Singapore’s independence and for the unity of the people.”

… Since Dr. Lee’s return to the Barisan Sosialis, unity in the party has been sabotaged … Is there any wonder that the party has committed so many mistakes and come to the mistaken conclusion that Singapore’s independence is phoney …

[The Straits Times, 8 January 1966, Page 9, Two more MPs quit Barisan]

The former Barisan Sosialis Opposition leader in Parliament, Mr. Lim Huan Boon, said …”I cannot in good conscience draw $500 a month for not doing what my voters elected me to do.” He was convinced that the present Barisan Sosialis boycott of Parliament was basically wrong. “By boycotting Parliament, we have broken faith with not only the democratic system but with the people who elected us,” … He said that many Barisan Sosialis rank and file supporters did not accept the “ridiculous thesis” that Singapore’s independence was “phoney”.

[The Straits Times, 6 January 1966, Page 6, ‘Conscience won’t let me draw $500 a month’]

Dr Lee of course retorted to these Barisan breakaways in a way that further reinforced the notion of phony independence.

“Surely by asking the PAP to make independence more perfect, both of them are contradicting themselves because it clearly shows the independence we have now to be phoney.”

[The Straits Times, 11 January 1966, Page 20, Barisan expels 2 ‘stab in back’ MPs]

It would thus be more accurate for Mr Gafoor to speak of Dr Lee Siew Choh harping on phony independence rather than Barisan harping on phony independence.

Parliament boycott wasn’t communist struggle but protest against death of democracy

Mr Gafoor wrote:

… Barisan … also withdrew from the Parliament of independent Singapore, declaring its preference to carry out “extra-parliamentary struggle”. The Barisan in effect reverted to the CPM’s original and real position … that “extra-parliamentary struggle” was superior to constitutional politics. The reality is that the CPM and the Barisan had all along acted, in Chin Peng’s words, “in the best interests of our Party” … And they never believed that they should restrict themselves to constitutional means to attain their political ends.

Mr Gafoor should note the true and valid reasons for Barisan’s withdrawal from parliament. Barisan MP Mr Chia Thye Poh was on record to say that Singapore parliamentary democracy had been dead while Dr Lim Hock Siew further explained that there was hardly any parliament then with just one Assembly meeting in the whole of 1965 or 1964. Why take issue with Barisan boycotting parliament when parliament was already dead then?

Mr Chia Thye Poh told reporters: I have just tendered our resignations from the House. We cannot remain in Parliament because parliamentary democracy is dead … What is the use of saying in Parliament when the PAP stop us from speaking? What is the use of going in Parliament when there is no democracy? There will only be democracy when the PAP hold general elections under the eight conditions we have made.

The eight conditions include unconditional release of all political detainees, revision of “undemocratic” election laws and revocation of “all undemocratic” laws.

[The Straits Times, 9 October 1966, Page 1, The B-I-G Barisan flop]

Lim (Interviewer): Then in November ’65, Barisan called for a boycott of parliament. How did you react to it?

LHS: It was I think in mid-November when we read in the papers of the Barisan Sosialis calling for a boycott of Parliament of all its 13 assemblymen. Again we were not given prior notice of this decision. And in prison, most of the detainees were also quite confused about the objectives of this dramatic move. The Barisan Sosialis statement I remember was published quite fully in the Chinese newspapers, but not in The Straits Times. From what was reported in the Chinese newspapers, we gathered that the boycott was to protest against the lack of democratic freedom in parliament and also within Singapore. The party gave I think about nine of ten conditions under which they would be prepared to go back to parliament. Those conditions include the immediate and unconditional release of all political detainees; the restoration of all political rights of those who have been released; the allowance of those who have already been banished to return back to the country; the gaining of full press freedom; the fundamental rights of public assembly, association, and freedom of expression and so on. Because at that time there was a total ban of public rallies, public assemblies and public meetings. It also revealed that throughout the period when Singapore was in Malaysia there were hardly any meetings called of the parliament, of the Assembly. In fact it revealed that in the whole of 1965, or ’64 there was only one meeting called in the Assembly, and that was to pass the budget, the state budget and that was rushed through within a few hours. After which the Assembly closed shop again and for all intents and purposes there was no Assembly in Singapore.

This statement highlighted the total suppression of the democratic rights of those assemblymen. And highlighted the fact that the parliament was reduced to meaningless shambles and that any further continuation of the Barisan Sosialis assemblymen’s participation in that parliament would merely enhance the prestige of a meaningless parliament. To that extent, everybody agreed that there should be something dramatic done to highlight this lack of democratic freedom in this country. But the disagreement arose from how long this boycott was to take place, and the circumstances that this boycott was to end. There was a lack of knowledge on the real aims of this campaign. Was it merely to highlight the lack of democracy within the country or was it a decision by the party to totally forgo this participation in elections, and participation in parliamentary politics. On this we were not clear because there was no communication between the leaders outside and the political detainees inside prison.

So most of us decided we should keep an open mind and to see how the situation developed. In fact we inside did not know that appalling extent to which the PAP had suppressed the rights of assemblymen in Parliament. And we did not realize that throughout one whole year there was only one meeting of the Assembly and only for a few hours merely to rush through a budget and the statement also pointed out that on such an important issue as a separation of Singapore from Malaysia, the assemblymen were not even consulted, the matter was not even debated in Parliament. That Lee Kuan Yew merely decided it on his own. An arbitrary decision by a group of political leaders without consultation with the elected members on such a important issue had reduced Parliament to a mockery. That was a very important point, because you would recall when PAP wanted to foist its phoney merger onto Singapore he had to stage a mock referendum, a sham referendum to give the impression that the people was consulted. But on this equally important issue of taking away Singapore from Malaysia, nobody was consulted – not even Parliament. So this was an insult to the Assembly in Singapore.

So on all these points, unfortunately, the Straits Times just completely refused to publish. The Straits Times publication of the Barisan statement was very brief. And had the Barisan Sosialis went out of its way to campaign along these points in order to focus public attention on the lack of democratic freedom in this country that has forced it to boycott a meaningless Parliament, then it would have been a very effective propaganda campaign against the PAP. But because of the apparent lack of explanation of the aims of this campaign among the leaders outside prison, there was I believe utter confusion and also disunity among the ranks of Barisan Sosialis leaders on this issue. And that made it extremely difficult for the Barisan Sosialis leaders to carry out any effective campaign along those lines.

[Oral history of Dr Lim Hock Siew, Nation Archives of Singapore, Accession number: 000214, Project Title: Political History in Singapore 1945-1965]

Nothing communist about Barisan’s extra-parliamentary struggle

Mr Gafoor should note that Barisan’s extra-parliamentary struggle was nothing more than rallies and house to house campaigns that were nothing extraordinary. All political parties do that, including PAP so there should be nothing particularly communist about it.

Their boycott of the House – from the very first meeting of the new session on Dec. 8 last year – was in protest against the “undemocratic acts” of the Government.

Party representatives will … hand over the letters of resignation. Immediately after that, police permits would be sought for rallies and house-to-house campaigns to explain the reason for the boycott of Parliament and the resignations.

The party chairmain, Dr Lee Siew Choh, indicated today that this would be the party’s new strategy – to continue its struggle outside the Parliament.

He told a press conference at Barisan headquarters that the decision to ask all the MPs to resign was taken about a fortnight ago …

Dr Lee claimed that the move would “expose the People’s Action Party and Singapore’s phoney independence.” …

Asked what he had to say about Government charges that his party was pro-Communist, Dr. Lee said that it it was really so, then the party could be taken to court.

The ruling PAP had killed Parliamentary democracy, he said …

The statements also indicated that in house-to-house campaigns, Barisan cadres would touch on work permits, changing of identity-cards, licensing of hawkers and taxis, increased school fees for children of non-citizens, quotas and tariffs, and changes to the Industrial Relations Ordinance.

[The Straits Times, 8 October 1966, Page 1, Barisan MPs quit]

Mr Gafoor should not be too quick to attribute Barisan’s actions as being for the best interests of the Communist Party of Malaya when even the Tunku admitted then that Lim Chin Siong and the Barisan weren’t communists:

Receipt of Mr. Lim’s letter was announced by the Tengku … The Tengku … said that he would not describe the letter as “having come from a Communist.”

The Prime Minister had also added: “I don’t think they are Communists but we know who they are.”

[The Straits Times, 30 March 1962, Page 16, Mystery letter: It was from Lim]

Don’t blame Barisan for PAP’s abuse of constitutional politics

Mr Gafoor cannot blame Barisan preferring extra-parliamentary struggle over constitutional politics when constitutional politics had been so severely abused by PAP for so long that it no longer served any purpose other than to confirm its uselessness. Mr Gafoor should be most aware of vile PAP tactics like delaying opposition candidates until it was too late for them to file their nomination papers that continue to happen till this day.

… On 22 April 1963, the party and its supporters marched on City Hall to protest their comrades’ detentions. A confrontation with the police ensued, following which 12 more Barisan leaders were arrested. Their court cases began in early August and ended on the 29th, just a few days before Lee announced snap elections. Remembered Dr Lee Siew Choh (who was one of those arrested): ‘And, almost immediately … General Election! You see, we were completely occupied with the trial!’

The Plebian, Barisan’s newsletter, called these elections ‘the most unfair and undemocratic in the history of Singapore’. The party again had trouble obtaining police permits for its rallies; on nomination day 17 potential Barisan candidates were held for questioning by Special Branch until it was too late for them to file their nomination papers (which then, as now, they had to do in person); three days earlier, three of the largest unions loyal to the Barisan had their bank accounts frozen to prevent their funds being used for political purposes. Finally, on the eve of the vote, Goh played on electoral anxieties once more by claiming that a Barisan victory would mean Malaysian troops in Singapore the following day.

[Singapore a biography, Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, page 408]

So, during the first 12 months of the PAP’s battle for merger the authorities revoked the license of the Barisan’s printer (meaning the party had to go out and buy its own press to publish campaign literature), denied it permits for mass rallies (or demanded they be held away from conspicuous central locations), and purged its supporters from the public sector. Singapore was not a place where you held down a government job while being known to have sympathies for the opposition …

[Singapore a biography, Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, page 399]

Evident also was Lee’s determination to move quickly to consolidate his position … Singapore’s own state elections were carefully staged on 21 September, their snap timing allowing only the barest minimum period (just over four days) for the opposition Barisan to conduct their campaign. They were additionally handicapped by the fact that many of their key leaders were still in detention following Cold Store, or preparing their cases before coming to trial, while the party had great problems securing sites for rallies, conducting canvassing and printing election literature in view of the tight restrictions imposed by the authorities. Most crucially the government dominated the mass media outlets, and with the inauguration of Malaysia taking place five days before polling, could campaign on the fulfillment of their earlier goal of bringing about ‘independence through merger’.

[Conflict and confrontation in South East Asia 1961-196, Matthew Jones, page 201]

For back in September 1961, the PAP had unleashed another crucial weapon in its struggle: the Prime Minister on Radio Singapore – or as the Barisan preferred to call it: ‘Radio PAP’.

[Singapore a biography, Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, page 400]

Barisan leaders were invited to join 12 subsequent radio forums to put their case across but refused. Lim and Woodhull demanded equal airtime to Lee for 12 talks of their own but were denied. In his memoirs, Lee wrote of when Puthucheary arrived in his office and asked for an autographed copy of the talks. Lee asked him if he would participate in the proposed forums. Puthucheary reportedly shook his head and said: ‘After you have set up the stage props, I would not stand a chance’.

[Singapore a biography, Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, page 401-402]

Rebutting Burhan Gafoor – Part 4

January 2, 2015

This is part 4 of the rebuttal to Singapore High Commissioner to Australia Mr Burhan Gafoor’s “Response to Poh Soo Kai’s allegations”.

Lee Kuan Yew’s Battle for Merger – stale, circumstantial, nothing definite

Mr Gafoor wrote:

Mr Lee Kuan Yew, in his Battle for Merger radio broadcasts in 1961, exposed the communists’ objective and strategy. He explained that the communists and the Barisan opposed merger because they wanted to establish control over Singapore so they could subsequently subvert and take over Malaya. The radio talks won over public opinion in favour of merger on the terms proposed by the Government.

However, this was what UK Deputy Commissioner to Singapore Philip Moore had to say about Lee Kuan Yew’s Battle for Merger:

But unless one was prepared to accept uncritically the evidence supplied by Lee Kuan Yew in his “Battle for Merger”, there was nothing very definite to go on apart from circumstantial evidence and stale security records.

[CO 1030/1160, P B C Moore to W I J Wallace, 7 Dec 1962]

Thus, UK Deputy Commissioner thought nothing about Lee Kuan Yew’s Battle for Merger. Mr Gafoor omitted this crucial piece of evidence from the UK Deputy Commissioner’s report while quoting profusely from other parts in the same paragraph. Thus, despite waxing lyrical about the need for holistic reading of all evidences and the inclusion of ‘incriminating’ evidence, it was Mr Gafoor who conveniently omitted evidences when they are in contradiction to what he had to say.

False referendum

Mr Gafoor wrote:

In the referendum in Sep 1962, the specific merger terms were put to the electorate. 71% of the voters opted for the PAP’s merger proposal while the Barisan, which called for blank votes to be cast in protest, got only 25%.

Mr Gafoor should realize that Singapore’s 1962 referendum was a false referendum that didn’t even allow for the people to vote “No” to merger as even blank votes were counted as “Yes”. How many of the 71% would have voted “No” if given the choice, no one will ever know. Even British Deputy Commissioner Philip Moore, someone whom Mr Gafoor is so fond of quoting from, felt that the PAP was being unscrupulous and undemocratic and that the referendum merely reflected PAP’s inability to get a genuine popular vote from the people.

When the referendum bill was introduced into the Singapore assembly in March 1962, the revelation that it gave voters only a choice between three different forms of merger, rather than including any option to reject merger completely, provoked yet more controversy, as did Lee’s announcement that blank ballots would be counted as votes in favour of the White Paper terms. British officials felt that the referendum was clearly being organized in an unscrupulous manner so that Lee could not lose.

Meanwhile, Lee’s referendum bill as finally forced through the Assembly, but its clause on blank ballots triggered the resignation of another PAP backbencher, finally depriving the Singapore Government of a majority …

By the middle of July 1962, Philip Moore, Selkirk’s deputy in Singapore, was reporting that ‘ … everyone realizes that the undemocratic features of the Bill are a reflection of the Government’s inability to get a genuine popular vote in favour of its White Paper proposals’. Only the rapid progress in the formation of Malaysia, it was becoming more and more apparent, would give PAP its crucial safety net.

[Conflict and confrontation in South East Asia 1961-196, Matthew Jones, page 78]

Mr Gafoor wrote:

There were trade-offs in the negotiations with Malaya for merger, as in any negotiation between states and territories. The terms and conditions settled upon were the best that the Singapore government could obtain under the circumstances. They allowed Singapore to retain control over areas that were key to Singaporeans such as education and labour.

Unlike what Mr Gafoor said, the terms and conditions for merger were hardly in the best interests of Singapore. Not only would Singapore have been under represented in the federal assembly, we also had to pay dearly for the merger.

The terms had immediately sparked controversy in that by allocating Singapore 15 seats out of 159 in the new projected federal assembly, they did not provide for proportionate representation. They also described all 624,000 Singapore citizens as becoming ‘nationals’ of the new Malaysian federation, leaving ambiguity over whether they would be accorded the same rights (including voting powers) as other ‘federal’ citizens; a residence requirement and Malay language test would be needed before many of the foreign-born Chinese in Singapore could be classed as full Malaysian citizens.

[Conflict and confrontation in South East Asia 1961-196, Matthew Jones, page 77]

Singapore agreed that 40 per cent of its income revenue would go towards Pan-Malaysia expenditures, subject to periodic review. Furthermore, Singapore would provide a loan of $150 million to the Borneo territories on very generous terms …

[Conflict and confrontation in South East Asia 1961-196, Matthew Jones, page 165]

Mr Gafoor should also note that the merger was essentially a swap of British overlordship for Malaysian overlordship with no improvement whatsoever to Singapore’s independence.

No armed struggle by Barisan

Mr Gafoor wrote:

The issue of armed struggle was discussed at length at a Barisan HQ meeting attended by about 40 cadres, including members of the Central Executive Committee as well as branch representatives, on 23 Sep 1962. Summing up the views expressed, Barisan Central Executive Committee member Chok Kok Thong urged his colleagues to “themselves determine the form their struggle should take: ‘basically armed struggle is the highest form of struggle’ but whether it should be adopted or not would depend on ‘the entire international situation’…”. Chok Kok Thong added:“…no one could say that the revolution was complete if it took the form of an armed struggle or incomplete if the peaceful and constitutional methods were used. …Experience elsewhere showed that there was no country in the world which had ‘attained a thorough success in revolution through constitutional processes’, and that throughout South East Asia, including Malaya, the ‘ruling classes would not lightly hand over political power to the leftists’”.

[Mr Gafoor’s reference: CO 1030/1160, Report on Barisan Sosialis meeting of 23 Sep 1962]

Mr Gafoor omitted the following evidences provided by Dr Thum Pin Tjin in his Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series No. 211 – The Fundamental Issue is Anti-colonialism, Not Merger’: Singapore’s “Progressive Left”, Operation Coldstore, and the Creation of Malaysia:

Lim urged his colleagues to recognize that their political struggle was ‘a longer term struggle,’ and ‘we can only beat the current government when the general election comes.’

[林清祥与他的时代, page 145-146]

The party agreed that their only option was to keep using peaceful constitutional processes with the aim of winning elections to the Federal parliament and building a multiracial progressive coalition.

[CO 1030/1160, Report on Barisan Sosialis meeting of 30 Sept 1962]

Thus, Mr Gafoor only referred to the ‘incriminating’ Barisan meeting of 23 Sept 1962 found in UK Deputy Commissioner’s report but did not refer to the exculpatory Barisan meeting the following week on 30 Sept 1962 in the same report. It is Mr Gafoor himself who was guilty of the selective quoting that he complained about. Chok Kok Thong’s ‘incriminating’ words on 23 Sept 1962 should have been more than exculpated by Lim Chin Siong’s words on 30 Sept 1962.

Mr Gafoor wrote:

The Barisan’s support for the armed Brunei revolt in Dec 1962, and their close association with the rebel leaders, showed that they were ready, when the opportunity arose, to use violent unconstitutional means to overthrow the government.

The Internal Security Council of Singapore (ISC), comprising representatives of the governments of the United Kingdom, Singapore and the Federation of Malaya, therefore approved Operation Coldstore in Feb 1963, as a pre-emptive move against the communists and their supporters.

Mr Gafoor omitted the story that followed which was the failure of the British and the PAP to find incriminating evidence of Barisan involvement in the Brunei revolt. In other words, Operation Cold Store was sanctioned on the premise of false charges.

Operation Cold Store detained 113 left-wing political leaders and trade unionists, including Lim. Subsequent British investigations found little evidence of Barisan involvement in the Brunei plot, but the detentions decimated the left.

[Paths Not Taken: Political Pluralism in Post-war Singapore, Michael D. Barr, Carl A. Trock]

Two months after the arrests, however, Sellkirk was disappointed that no new evidence was forthcoming on the connection between the Barisan and the Brunei Revolt, with the only “embarrassing” new point suggesting that the party had been resisting Azahari’s overtures to give more militant support to the rebels. What emerges from these various sources is a solidifying picture of difficult but ultimately unsatisfactory agreements on the arrests …

[The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya: Tangled Strands of Modernity, Edgar Liao and Cheng Tju Lim and Guo Quan Seng, page 198]

Immediately following the arrests, the Internal Security Council announced that Special Branch had uncovered a plot to make Singapore a ‘Communist Cuba’ – full details would follow. But despite weeks of interrogations, strong evidence to substantiate this claim failed to materialise. Toh Chin Chye later described the political detainees who remained in prison after 1959 as ‘a sacrifice to Merger’ …

[Singapore A Biography, Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasinghamchow, page 406]

Part 1 of this rebuttal has already explained that Operation Cold Store was already a done deal between Lee Kuan Yew, the Tunku and the British long before the ‘incriminating’ Barisan meeting of 23 Sept 1962 and the Dec 1962 Brunei revolt which were merely pretexts to make Operation Cold Store look good for the three co-conspirators.


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