Rebutting Sam Tan

I refer to the 11 Nov 2014 Straits Times report “Exile’s story on why he fled ‘not full picture’”.

Minister of State Sam Tan’s so-called rebuttal has been nothing but false accusations. Political exile Mr Ho Juan Thai’s account is complete and his claims are consistent.

False claim 1: Mr Ho omitted to mention inflammatory speeches

Contrary to Mr Tan’s claims, Mr Ho did not omit mentioning inflammatory speeches. Mr Ho specifically wrote:

The government tried to further justify their action against me by accusing me of inciting racial violence in my general election speeches.

[The Online Citizen, The truth from a Singapore exile, 2 Nov 2014, Ho Juan Tai]

False claim 2: Mr Ho made contradictory claims

Contrary to Mr Tan’s claims again, Mr Ho did not make contradictory claims. Mr Ho being the victim of police intimidation does not contradict Mr Ho being willing to turn himself in for questioning because the two statements can join together in perfect logical flow like this:

Despite being the victim of police intimidation, Mr Ho was willing to turn himself in for questioning.

Mr Ho was willing to turn himself in because he respected the Singapore law and legal process but had no confidence in the Internal Security Act which acted beneath the Singapore legal process. The British only used the Internal Security Act during the Malayan Emergency which was a period of internal state of war but PAP unscrupulously continued its use well into peace time.

Even non-Chinese say government out to wipe out Chinese education

Contrary to Mr Tan’s claims, Mr Ho wasn’t wrong to say that the government was out to exterminate, wipe out or kill off Chinese language and Chinese education. Even non-Chinese historians say the same thing:

PAP systematically undercut Chinese education as it saw the Chinese educated as both political and cultural threats

PAP set about neutralising Chinese schools, which were powerful auxiliaries to labour unions and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce which is the major funding and controlling body for Chinese education in a bid to control education

PAP, through government policies, strengthened social and economic forces that reduced the number of Chinese schools

[Carl A. Trocki, Singapore: wealth, power and the culture of control”, page 150]

PAP sought to destroy Chinese education, page 81

Racial integration policy was a cover for an all-out attack on Chinese education, page 84

PAP undermined Chinese education autonomy while attempting to win Malay support by appearing to be multiracial, page 85

The 1969 bilingual policy, while appeasing Chinese public opinion, completed the demolition of the Chinese education system, page 89

The government being the largest employer in Singapore could have given better job opportunities to the Chinese educated but refused to, page 79

[Christopher Tremewan, The political economy of social control in Singapore]

PAP promised equal treatment for all language streams but not equal employment opportunities for people from non-English streams

[Tong Chee Kiong, Identity and ethnic relations in Southeast Asia: racializing Chineseness, page 62]

Mr Ho’s cries came true. The essence and purity of Singapore Chinese education then has been totally wiped out by the PAP. Today’s Singapore Chinese education is a joke. Students can’t write compositions without electronic dictionaries. Children as young as toddlers are attending Chinese classes not to become Chinese scholars but to hopefully not reject Chinese when they grow older.

False claim 3: Mr Ho’s statements sowed distrust between English and Chinese educated

Contrary to Mr Tan’s logic, saying that the government tried to kill off Chinese education didn’t sow distrust between the English and the Chinese educated, but sowed distrust between the government and the Chinese educated instead. The government then comprised English, Chinese, Malay and Indian educated so if there had been any distrust sowed, it couldn’t simply have been between English educated and Chinese educated but should also have been between Chinese educated and Chinese educated and so on. That would have been most bizarre indeed.

In order for Mr Tan’s logic to flow properly, the sowing of distrust between English educated and Chinese educated must instead come from saying that the English educated tried to kill off Chinese education which clearly wasn’t what Mr Ho said.

Mr Tan’s false allegations of Mr Ho’s supposed ‘recklessness’ and ‘irresponsibility’ do not stand up to the scrutiny of logic.

The fragility of Singapore’s social fabric then was the result of racial politics played by the PAP. For more than a hundred years, colonial Singapore had always been the beacon of racial harmony to the world.

False claim 4: WP did not make a fuss on Mr Ho’s fleeing

Contrary to Mr Tan’s claim again, WP and even SDP made a fuss on Mr Ho’s behalf based on the following quotes by the Online Citizen report “Charges against Ho Juan Thai – errors in claims and contradictions?” dated 11 Nov 2014:

The statement came in reply to a parliamentary question for written answer from Mr Jayaretnam, seeking an assurance that Mr Ho would not be detained under the ISA if he returned to Singapore.

MR J.B. Jeyaretnam yesterday renewed his challenge to the government to allow the former Workers’ Party candidate Ho Juan Thai to return to Singapore to contest the next election.

The Singapore Democratic Party has urged the government to allow Mr Ho Juan Thai, the Opposition Workers’ Party’s unsuccessful candidate in the 1976 general election, to return here to stand trial.

The rest did not run like Mr Ho did because the rest did not cross PAP’s OB (out of bounds) markers. It is precisely because of the pervasive climate of intimidation that not many crossed PAP’s OB markers like Mr Ho did.

If as Mr Tan or the PAP says Mr Ho had been guilty of being a Chinese chauvinist, why did Chinese chauvinist Ho run to the UK and not to China, Taiwan or Hong Kong?

Straits Times, Exile’s story on why he fled ‘not full picture’, 11 Nov 2014
Sam Tan rebuts ex-WP candidate Ho Juan Thai’s claims on website

MINISTER of State Sam Tan has rebutted a political exile’s account of why he fled Singapore in 1976, saying it fails to give a full picture and makes contradictory claims.

In a rare move by an office- holder, Mr Tan wrote to socio-political website The Online Citizen (TOC), saying London-based Ho Juan Thai omitted mentioning that the police wanted to question him because he “made inflammatory speeches” when he ran in the 1976 General Election.

Mr Tan, who is with the Prime Minister’s Office, pointed out that Mr Ho made contradictory claims – “on the one hand, that he was a victim of police intimidation, and on the other, he was willing to turn himself in for questioning”.

During the 1976 election campaign, Mr Ho criticised the Government’s Chinese-language policy.

Mr Ho, who was contesting Bukit Panjang on a Workers’ Party (WP) ticket, said the Government was out to “exterminate” Chinese education in Singapore and “wipe out” the Chinese language.

He also said the achievement of the Government had been to kill off Chinese education.

These statements, Mr Tan said, were on public record.

“In multiracial Singapore, such allegations were reckless and irresponsible then as they would be now. Mr Ho’s remarks could have caused divisions in society and sowed distrust between the English- and Chinese-educated.”

“This could have torn apart our fragile social fabric then,” Mr Tan added in his letter, which TOC posted on its website yesterday.

The website published Mr Ho’s commentary, titled The Truth From A Singapore Exile, on Nov 2.

Mr Ho wrote that he left Singapore, without applying for an exit permit, because he believed his personal safety was at risk.

He claimed Internal Security Department officers – one with gun drawn – came to arrest him some time after the 1976 election.

Now aged 63, he said that despite having “great reservations”, he respected the law and legal process in Singapore.

In his rebuttal, Mr Tan said it was revealing that after Mr Ho fled to London, his then colleagues in the WP did not make much of a fuss on his behalf or similarly flee Singapore.

“Why did they not do so, or run away like him, if there was such a pervasive climate of intimidation?” wrote Mr Tan.

He also noted that Mr Ho admitted, in an open letter in 1982, that he amended the December 1976 expiry date on his Singapore passport to enter Britain in July 1977.

Mr Ho was among nine Singaporeans living in exile in Britain and Thailand who are featured in a documentary film, To Singapore, With Love.

It was screened at a London arts festival, and Mr Ho and another exile, Mr Tan Wah Piow, attended one of the screenings.

The film is not allowed to be screened in public or distributed in Singapore. The authorities say it undermines national security because the security agencies’ legitimate actions, in protecting Singapore’s national security and stability, are distorted as acts that victimised innocent individuals.


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