Rebutting Burhan Gafoor – Part 7

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.

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One Response to “Rebutting Burhan Gafoor – Part 7”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    It is really getting tiresome having to continuously rebut these state-paid hacks’ distortion of history. They do it on taxpayers’ money, and you do it in your own time and at your own expense. That is why they will continue to wear you down. I admire your courage and persistence and do hope you will continue to debunk them.

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