Self-serving or not up to Singaporeans, not PM Lee to judge

I refer to the 4 Oct 2014 Straits Times report “Exiles shouldn’t get to air ‘self-serving accounts’”.

It is not up to PM Lee, a less than half past six (60.1%) prime minister to declare Singapore political exile accounts as self-serving. Whether or not the accounts are self-serving, judgment lies with Singaporeans. Singaporeans do not need others to make moral judgments on their behalf but can make these judgments themselves.

Can PM Lee name one Singaporean victim killed in Singapore to illustrate the violence of the communist insurgency? PM Lee and his government had been so quick to highlight the victims of the MacDonald House bomb blast during Konfrontasi, why have they not similarly revealed the victims killed in Singapore as a result of the communist insurgency?

They can’t because there was none for there was never a communist insurgency in Singapore. The full name of the communist insurgency was the Malayan communist insurgency, not the Singapore communist insurgency. The armed struggle that raged for 40 years raged in Malayan jungles and villages, not in Singapore. The thousands killed were killed in Malaya, not in Singapore. PM Lee should not mistake Malaya’s communist insurgency as Singapore’s.

Singapore’s fight against communism was over almost as soon as it began and we won hands down. MCP operations in Singapore were crushed very early on in their campaign so much so they had to beat a hasty retreat to Malaya.

The Malayan Communist Party … was not particularly effective. It hosted a meeting … most notable … for the comprehensive surveillance by the British Special Branch … Subsequent mass arrests decimated the MCP [page 134]
[Jungle of Snakes: A Century of Counterinsurgency Warfare from the], [James R. Arnold]

In December 1949 the Special Branch obtained the full list of the STC through a planted informer, and conducted a raid on 1 May 1950. Singapore Town Committee Vice Secretary Ah Har and three other committee members were arrested … Later that month, 20 more MCP and ABL members were arrested. Seven months later, on 5 December, because of an alert Special Branch officer, STC Secretary Ah Chin and his assistant, Ho Seng, were caught …the mass arrests caused the near collapse of the MCP’s operations in Singapore [page 61]

The first thing to realise is that although left-wing and anti-colonial radicalism flourished to unprecedented levels during the first half of the 1950s, the Communist Party itself was diminishing as a controlling force in Singapore over the same period [page 26]
[Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-building Project], [Michael D. Barr, Zlatko Skrbiš]

The MCP itself … seems to have been more a figment of the imagination of … the British Special Branch and the right-wing forces in Singapore. Its “ghost” may have lived a much longer and more active life than the real one ever did. While the party … attracted idealistic recruits from Singapore … we may question the extent of its organization and power in Singapore, particularly during … 1952-63. Repeated waves of arrests, banishments and defections between 1948 and 1963 severely limited its ability to launch an effective organization [page 101]
[Singapore: Wealth, Power and the Culture of Control], [Carl A. Trocki]

This is no attempt by historians to revise history; this is history that has been kept under wraps for far longer than it should have been.

While the Malayan communist insurgency had been a matter of historical record not seriously disputed, the notion that the Malayan communist insurgency was also a Singapore one is a matter of fiction and imagination not to be taken seriously.

The six self-declared CPM members were guerillas fighting in Malayan jungles, not guerillas fighting in Bukit Timah hill. They carried weapons in Malaya, not Singapore except during their national service. That they returned to Singapore doesn’t mean they were fighting Singapore.

Is PM Lee more authoritative than the movie judges at Dubai and Busan on documentary history, objective presentation or accuracy? PM Lee is no authority in the history of Singapore to pass judgment about the movie’s objectivity or accuracy.

If there is anyone whose reputation and honour would be sullied by these revelations, it would be PM Lee’s father Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Given their close relationship, Singaporeans cannot take for granted that PM Lee would be perfectly impartial in trying to protect his father’s reputation even if it means gagging the truth. The security forces who did his father’s bidding have only themselves to blame for perpetrating many wrong doings towards innocent Singaporeans like Teo Soh Lung and Ang Swee Chai who were taken away even though they did no wrong or towards honest politicians like Dr Lim Hock Siew and Dr Chia Thye Poh who were locked away for 20, 30 over years. It is time Singaporeans wake up to the myth that these Stalin like perpetrators of injustice were fighting communism to build Singapore. They were bludgeoning political opponents to the extent of going after related but innocent persons for the purpose of consolidating their own powers.

If one can write a book to counter another book, surely one can make a film to counter another film? If one can read a book together with the counter book, surely one can watch a film together with the counter film?

Communist insurgency in Singapore is a myth created to sully the heroes of Singapore’s independence movement who weren’t communists but anti-colonialists collectively known as the Leftists. Whether or not they deserve the winner’s podium is for Singaporeans to judge, not for PM Lee or his apparatuses to judge. PM Lee and his apparatuses’ constant prevention of the other side to tell their side of the story is a sure sign there is an ugly truth to it that they would rather Singaporeans not know.

Straits Times, Exiles shouldn’t get to air ‘self-serving accounts’, 4 Oct 2014

THE political exiles featured in a documentary that cannot be shown in public or distributed here should not be allowed to air their “self-serving accounts” of the fight against communism, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Local film-maker Tan Pin Pin’s To Singapore, With Love had to be seen in the historical context of the communist insurgency, an armed struggle for power that raged for 40 years and killed thousands, he pointed out.

He was commenting for the first time on the film that has been in the news since the Media Development Authority recently classified it “Not Allowed for All Ratings” because it was deemed to undermine national security.

Ms Tan has submitted the film – unchanged – to the independent Films Appeal Committee and said on Thursday she hoped the classification could be reviewed.

It came up at last night’s National University of Singapore Society forum when Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Gillian Koh cited it as she asked Mr Lee how the more “controversial” points of history could be discussed more normally.

He said there was no hindrance to discussing the past in a normal way, noting that some historians propound revisionist views of history and others rebut them.

But Ms Tan’s film involved people who figured in the communist insurgency. “It was a violent struggle; it lasted for 40 years from 1949. On one side, you had the non-communists, democratic groups; on the other side, you had the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and their sympathisers in the Communist United Front… It was an armed struggle for power,” he said, adding that these were matters of historical record, not seriously disputed.

The six self-declared CPM members in Ms Tan’s film do not deny having been guerillas, and one even shows himself in jungle green carrying weapons.

After the insurgency, many communists returned to Singapore with their families after owning up to their actions.

They included former communist leaders Eu Chooi Yip and P.V. Sarma who returned from China in 1991. “They were superiors of some of the people who are in the movie – cleared their accounts, made their peace, lived and died here,” Mr Lee said.

There is nothing to stop the exiles in Ms Tan’s film from doing the same, he added.

“Well, they’ve chosen not to do so. It’s their prerogative. But if they have chosen not to do so, why should we allow them, through a movie, to present an account of themselves, not of documentary history objectively presented, but a self-serving personal account conveniently inaccurate in places, glossing over inconvenient facts in others?”

This, he said, would sully the honour and the reputation of security forces, and the people who fought the communists to build the Singapore of today.

A film, he added, is a different medium from a book.

“You write a book, I can write a counter book. The book, you can read together with the counter book,” he explained. “You watch the movie, you think it’s a documentary. It may be like Fahrenheit 9/11, very convincing, but it’s not a documentary. And I think that we have to understand this in order to understand how to deal with these issues.”

Professor Tommy Koh, who chaired the forum, noted that the influence of communism had waned, and would no longer pose a security threat to Singapore.

But Mr Lee replied: “Communism is over, but I don’t think the people who used to support communism… have given up the fight for a place on the winner’s podium.”


One Response to “Self-serving or not up to Singaporeans, not PM Lee to judge”

  1. joker Says:

    Of course there is no “conflict of interest here”, just like appointing one’s wife and father into prominent positions. These are honest people who are never “self serving” like the people portrayed in the film. These people are just fighting for a place in the winners podium and for that they appear in a film. Of course , they can write countless autobiographies, have books written about them, have documentaries made about them, have them featured in school history books etc etc but then these are only people who are not self serving will do. Honestly now I know what is an idiot boy

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